BREAKING BOUNDARIES AN INTERVIEW WITH PAPA LU
TuTu Tuesday is always a fun time. You have to monitor yourself though, or you can end up cursing yourself hunched over on hump day wondering why you partied so much in the middle (or rather beginning) of the week. Oh yeah, cuz it’s fun. This particular Tuesday, I surprised an old friend, who I hadn’t seen in 7 years, in visiting from Ibiza. He had helped me start my company back in the day around 2000, and so I wanted to take him out and show him a good night at the club. After champagne and scallops in the basement bar of Roka Akor (my jam!), we got in my car and I threw a wad of brightly colored tulle in his lap.
“What the fuck is that?,” he blurted in that cheerfully sarcastic British accent.
“Put it on.”
“Are you taking me into a strip club and you want me to go in wearing nothing but this tutu.” He asked.
“Feel free to, but it’s really not that kind of place. I also know you won’t be disappointed.”
Surely not. At 10pm there were already people there, dressed in wild tutus, and swaying to the beat. Within a half out the party was packed, and Papa Lu was throwing down some a serious set. Body moving. We caught up outside after his set.
CV: Ok so let’s get right down to it: Night Moves. How did you come up with Night Moves? What was your philosophy behind the brand?
PL: When NIght Moves started it was me and J Boogie. He was getting down doing production with DJ Theory when they were starting a thing called Brother In Arms. At the time I hadn’t started DJing yet, so they were my residents and we built the show around them. They were doing nu-disco, sexy vibes and we based the vibe of our party off that.
We actually had Jimmy Edgar for the first Night Moves. His production at the time was ultra sexy futuristic funk-inspired electronic music. Moon Boots played one of our next installments, followed by awesome acts like Hot Toddy (Crazy P), Pacific Disco, Poolside, Lazaro Casanova, Danny Daze, Walker & Royce, Doctor Dru, Jon Dadon, Kevin Knapp, John Tejada, Phonique, Tone of Arc, Dennis Ferrer, Dj Pierre, & Lonely Boy. Overtime the sound has really evolved.
CV: Would you say it has influences of hip hop? Disco? Nu-funk? How would you classify it genre-wise? How would you describe the scene.
PL: It was a mixture of everything: Disco, Funk, Techno, Deep House. Just the jams. Nice funky baselines.
CV: So shit that makes you wanna dance?
PL: Exactly. We always have DJ Theory and J Boogie warm it up nicely for the headliner and they stick to the disco theme. And then the headliner comes on they bring the heaviness to cater to all the other tastes of house, techno, and disco.
CV: You are killing it tonight here DJing at TuTu Tuesday. I’ve been like “what is coming on right now…these are some crazy good tracks. Did you pre-plan this set? Are you just winging it going through your music selection on the fly?”
PL: Whenever I am going to play a set or a gig, I always put together an extended playlist of tracks that I think I might play at a 222 or Night Moves or whatever the event might be. Because I really think that when it comes to DJing it’s all about where you are at, what time of day it is, what’s the temperature, what the crowd like.
CV: What do you think of DJs that play what they want to play vs. DJs that play for the crowd? What’s your philosophy around that?
PL: I personally like to play for the crowd and pay attention to what it feels like they like. But to each his own. I don’t have any problems with DJs that want to just be them. I think that if a DJ wants to just be a so-called artist and use DJing as a platform to portray themselves as a musician. I get that, but I also think there are aspects of being a DJ where you should be prepared to provide the music that a crowd is wanting at a particular moment.
CV: What I am wanting to know is that, knowing you as a promoter, and then also as a DJ, maybe you see two sides of a coin that not all DJs see?
PL: Yeah, I have been a promoter for years, and I would say that as a promoter you want to create an event that has a certain feel and turns out a certain way, and being able to influence that on a deeper level through DJing, I tend to think about that a lot. I want to influence events that I produce in a sonic way to help build up the energy, and have a crowd that is responsive.
CV: Are you a San Francisco resident?
PL: Yes, I live up on Broadway in North Beach.
CV: One tip: you live in North Beach. Have you ever eaten at Roka Akor?
PL: No I haven’t.
CV: You must. But don’t go eat in the restaurant. Go to the bar downstairs. Its mid-century cigar bar style, but with a full menu, and no smoke. It’s my jam. Jackson & Montgomery. Its the bomb sushi. Go ball out. What stuff in North Beach do you find to be amazing or of legend.
PL: Honestly, I don’t go out much in my neighborhood. I am usually just in the studio working on music. I do go to a restaurant called the “The House”. Kind of ironic, but I do love that place and I would have to say they are the best restaurant in that neighborhood in my opinion.
CV: So you don’t have a best cannoli place to recommend?
PL: Honestly no. I mean I settled in North Beach as that was where a spot opened up for me, and you know, the real estate is hard here. I just love to be locked in my spot and work on music to all hours of the night. And the fact I can get away with that makes me love my place. My neighbors aren’t tripping. I can do after parties and focus on production.
CV Ok then, fair enough. So as far as San Francisco goes, how long have you been in the city?
PL: I have been here promoting parties since 2002-2003, at DNA Lounge doing hip hop shows with Jonathan McDonald, On the Corner Productions. San Francisco is always home to me, no matter where I have been living at. But I’ve been in the city proper for the last 6 or so years.
CV: So what do you feel about the whole tech insurgence? Do you think it has a positive or negative impact on the scene?
PL: Thats a tough one. I dislike a lot of it. But I also just know to accept it because I think its just adapting to circumstances?
CV: Like looking at this glowing Burning Man-ish type statue right here in front of this corporate building. What do you think about it? Is your city being turned into a Candyland where people just throw money at stuff and call it art to seem cool, or are there really still true artists here? Or is someone just trying to show the bigger dick?
PL: I don’t know what to say exactly about it. I know there is a good crowd of people trying to get down in the scene now, that maybe come from a different background and are making the old school house heads question things or sometimes grow bitter, but I think that it’s good to be changing things up, and hopefully it adds a freshness.
PL: Yes I am just adapting to what’s going on. If some people from the tech community want to get down to some underground house music, I am all for it.If they are opening their mind to something new, I can’t hate on that.
CV: You throw a Burning Man camp. The Kasbah. Tell me about it.
PL: We build a pyramid which is our structure. Some of the founders would say the premise of the camp was built on sacred geometry. But I think it’s truly now all about family and doing something that is unique to us. The artists that we bring to the Kazbah to play are all about our sound, and being a younger camp we strive to showcase up-and-coming artists and share that with the rest of the world. We actually have our last fundraiser of the year this Sunday at Audio in SF if you wanna come down.
CV: For sure. So, what are your coordinates on the playa this year?
PL: This year we are actually at 10 and A. So we think Burning Man placing us there is kind of a challenge they gave us to really prove what we got. I am excited about it. We are working on catering to that challenge and beefing it up, both our sound and our structure. It’s on.
CV: Anything you want to say to people reading, Papa Lu
PL: Follow me on soundcloud or facebook. I update everything there for people to stay up on what I am doing. I am working on a new event at MIghty that starts this week called Boundaries, so check that out! The point is to break boundaries in the music scene. So everyone come through on Saturday at Mighty! Also, reminder, The Kazbah is having our final fundraiser at Audio this Sunday.