Jamie Jones and Lee Foss host a top notch EP from Montreal-based heavyweight Paolo Rocco on Hot Creations this month. It continues a stellar streak for the Canadian producer. Taking time out of his busy schedule this week, he sat down with WWD to run through all the projects before him. With releases on imprints such as Rutilance, Defected and Get Physical, the House Music specialist is leading the sound in the city. Looking back on his 2016, we discuss the relationship he has with his home while also unveiling his creative process between records. What’s more, this Q&A action is accompanied by a full premiere from the forthcoming Hot Creations release. We shine the spotlight on the inimitable Manchester man Trevino, who has remixed ‘Judgement’.
It was actually more. I went through a bit of a transition sound wise and was lucky enough to have some good people, quality labels and dope artists back what I was doing.
WWD: You have an EP coming up on ‘’Hot Creations’’, can you tell us about the creative process behind it?
My productions can be categorized in 2 main categories. The ones that are more on the hypnotic, trippy, get lost on the dance floor type; and the ones with a more direct message. This Hot Creations EP is both. The B Side “That’s It” is the more of a dance floor roller and the A Side “Judgment” is the cut that has more of a direct message. I find that’s missing a bit in the scene today. There’s a lot of great tracks out there but there isn’t a lot of underground house music that carries a specific message. Vocals help get that message out. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel judged, especially artists. I wanted to shed a bit of light on that struggle.
WWD: Do you stick to a regular schedule in the studio or is it more go with the flow?
100% go with the flow. I mean before I get in the studio I usually have a general vibe of what I want to do in my head but as the session flows I try my best not to force myself to go in any particular direction. Sometimes I start by wanting to make more of a dubby bottom heavy track and end up with a super deep moody one by the end. As long as I finish with music I’m comfortable with I’ll find a use for it.
WWD: Hot Creations is a renowned outfit. How did you go about choosing the home for this release?
For me the most important thing is that a record is well represented. I’ve released on big and small imprints these last couple of years and more important than the size or hype of a label is representation of your particular record. I first sent this record to Jamie because I thought he would relate to it musically. Just the corkiness that the record has with the bouncy basses mixed up with the loopy synth pops. I don’t know why exactly but I just felt it would be well represented by that crew so I sent it over. And I’d like to add they’ve been super professional and amazing at including me in the whole release process so I’m pretty lucky to have been welcomed the way I was.
WWW: You’ve been about the Montreal underground for quite some time now, what keeps you motivated?
It comes down to a few people here. For sure home will always be home, but the Montreal scene does not do right by it’s local artists (that’s the truth, and a whole other conversation). However, there are a few people in Montreal that I believe are worth listening to and working with. We have some great talent, and some great venues here. The problem is we don’t have outlets willing to introduce local artists to a bigger international market or help them grow. Even for myself, every opportunity that actually pushed my career a significant step forward was given to me by people outside of the city. Being born and raised here I know that struggle better than anyone els and I want to do my part to change that if I can. I have a couple of local artists here that are dope (and always on the look out to include more), we run a dope party which is a good training ground, we have a label launching, and my Montreal ties are loyal to that family and to those who are like minded. These days I’m between Montreal and Berlin as hubs but I have this project “RAWMoments” based out of Montreal for now. I’m super excited for that so be on the look out for the events if you’re in town and the first few record releases planed for the last quarter of 2017.
WWD: How would you view the city’s relationship with what you do?
Like most intense relationships it’s a love hate thing. On one had I feel so embraced by the fans, encouraged by my close circle of friends, family, and support system. But on the other hand I feel capped in a weird way. Kind of like the city is saying:
“Alright Paolo, you’ve done well here. We appreciate your contribution and we don’t mind if you want to continue growing but we won’t help you. It’s the city first, your career and life second. Be happy with your local success. It’s greedy to look beyond that. This is it for you and you’ll always be just another local DJ”
And I’ve came to terms with that attitude. It’s nothing new. And it’s why I’ve started exploring other markets more. I want to harbour the talent I know this city has and help expose it. That’s what I believe helping a local scene really is.
WWD: If you could change one thing about the city’s musical environment, what would it be?
Support system. Clubs and festivals here are at par with the best in the world. I truly mean that. But they do more in regards to helping out other cities than their own. It’s a funny thing because organizers need a local scene from DJs, promoters to survive. It’s not like they can rely on international DJs every single week. However they’re the first to shout “look at me” when they bring an out of towner but they get really quiet when there’s a local making some buzz. Who knows why it’s like that but the saying “No prophet is accepted in his hometown” is realer than ever in Montreal. Now I understand we have this everywhere, it’s probably just a part of staying somewhere you grew up in. But anyone from this city who’s lived in other places will tell you it’s a lot worst here. Montreal has a lot of great things to offer and hopefully I can play a small part in actually having it offered to the world instead of keeping it for myself. I’m focused on my team, my family, and my fans in regards to my city. Those are the only people here I owe something to.
WWD: Between making music and touring, developing your label and party Raw Moments and actually throwing parties you must be swamped. How do you go about balancing all these aspects and your personal life?
I’m super lucky in that regards. I have an amazing personal support system between friends I work with, friends I don’t work with, family… That support system is what gives my life balance and allows me to stay focused on what makes me happy.
WWD: Do you have a strong team around you?
I believe so. Of course there’s always room for improvement, and we might lack a bit of experience. The RAWMoments brand was the first party series we started, this label coming will be my first label, the merchandise we produced was the first time any of us had ever designed and made some. But I think experience comes with time, and we’re patient. We make everything ourselves. Lessi S. who is one of the producers also manufactured the whole merch line. I did the initial designs, logos… Anthony William who’s been our video guy has now started playing a role in management. We’re learning along the way but we rely on each other more than other people which I think gets the ball moving when we have ideas.
WWD: Lookin’ back on your journey so far, if you could go back what would you have done differently?
That’s a very hard question because from the present you can always look in the past and perceive that you could have done things better. But the real question is if you would have done those particular things differently in the past would you have ended up where you are in the present? I’ll let you mull that one over haha.
WWD: You very much embrace the vinyl format. Why is that relationship important to you?
It’s obvious that today they vinyl hype is defiantly strong. I think it’s great but I do think a lot of this going back to the vinyl format is due to exactly that, hype. For me it’s very simple, it’s to add a little exclusivity to my music. I want a closer relationship with my releases. Music has became so disposable in the digital world and I guess that’s just part of the present day industry. I’m a part of that as well, but I make it a point to release some records here and there because I like the fact of it being limited (or at least more limited). Limitation makes a product more scarce, and scarcity adds value (if it’s a quality product of course). I try to bring a crate of records with me wherever I play because the records I keep in there are the rarest in my collection. Even if another DJ manages to get their hands on the same juicy new promos I have, chances are they won’t have that rare 90’s Red Nail Kidz edit that was only pressed on vinyl 100 times. Of course if ever I shared the decks with Derrick Carter he’d most likely put me to shame! What a legend.
WWD: What’s going on right now on the Raw Moments front?
The parties have been doing great locally. We’d like to expand it to other markets eventually but at this point it’s still premature. Next up for us is launching this label. The first 3 releases are already in the bag with originals coming from Lessi S., Pijynman and myself. All Montreal born and raised artists. For remix duties we’re opening up to our extended family from over seas who I can’t reveal just yet. That’s pretty much the concept of the label. Local relatively unknown artists with good music remixed by dope reputable producers we’re fans of. We also have a “RAWM White” label in the works. This is going to be more of an edit / sampled based white label imprint where we keep who made the edits undisclosed.
WWD: You’re heading back to France in February. What’s on the agenda?
The France gig is February 10th in Strasbourg. I’ll be playing representing a dope niche French label called Berg Audio. Myself and Lessi S have a collab coming out with a remix by East End Dubs. I love what the label’s done with their last releases and happy to be a part of it. The night before I’m in Brussels as well and it’s my first time playing in the city. Looking forward to all of it!
WWD: Before we let you go, what would make 2017 a good year for Paolo Rocco?
A simple step forward from the previous year. I believe that as long as we take a step forward every year, reaching our goals becomes a matter of when, not a matter of if. Thanks a lot for your time!
Paolo Rocco – Judgement (Hot Creations) is out 20th January.
Follow: Paolo Rocco