The young, talented and supremely hard working Paul Raffaele has quickly earned a reputation as one of our city’s best artists. Regularly playing some of the city’s best parties and venues (including 718 Sessions four times, we learned) In addition to being an outstanding DJ, Paul has been putting time in at the studio and is running his vinyl imprint, Most Excellent Unlimited We recently caught up with Paul to discuss what is upcoming in the world of Paul and how a slice of pizza helped shape his label.
The last 12 months have certainly been extremely busy for you, but we assume that one of the highlights had to have been the Hyte Festival. Tell us a bit about that experience and how it compares to a club gig.
Feeling very fortunate to be playing a lot lately. Each gig, no matter what the size, presents a new challenge that I’ll never get sick of figuring out.
Playing Hyte was unique for sure. It was a beautiful sunny day, and I played some of my favorite summer records on a giant festival-style rig with monster sound. It takes a while for people to get to the venue due to the boats dropping people a half hour at a time, so I was quite happy to be able to play some dub, funk, and hip hop records as folks got situated. Awesome day.
You also have recently played a live set at SXSW. Did you enjoy the “live” experience and are there any plans to continue that in the future?
Yeah, that live thing Phil Moffa and I did was to support our record that had just come out on Idol Hanse called ‘Don’t Come Back Alive‘. Phil was actually the one who did a full live show of his original material, and I just jumped on at the end and banged a few pads on the MPC, ha. No plans for live stuff as far as I can see into the future. The material just isn’t there yet, and I’m focusing on being the best DJ I can be right now.
Back in NYC, you have found a solid niche at one of our cooler venues, Le Bain. What is about that room that is so special?
Neil Aline & Jerome Viger make Le Bain the special place that it is. Yeah, the Funktion-One, gorgeous views of the city, and the hot tub full of naked girls are great, but what would that matter if it were another meatpacking top 40 douchehole? Their music programming over the years has been rock solid, and it’s become a place that people can rely on for a great party, even if they’ve never heard of the DJ. I’ve had some of my favorite gigs there, and hope to have lots more. Like Aug 15 with my buddies, RINSED.
Sorry, we stopped listening after the “hot tub full of naked girls part”…. anyway, one event that is not going away anytime soon and is still hands down one of the best that our city has to offer, is 718 Sessions. You have now had the pleasure of playing 718 twice. How did those nights go?
Four times actually! 😉 Twice this year. 718 is so special to me. Anyone who knows me, knows it. Every time I go it’s like the first time. It’s the main party where I got, and continue to get my musical education. Danny is a meticulous, and masterful selector, and by far my favorite DJ. The crowd and the vibe are the very best I’ve experienced anywhere. I feel very blessed to have been able to play there, and those gigs were career highlights for sure. Absolutely everyone, regular clubber or not, should go and experience this party. It’s in a class of it’s own.
Four times! Even better! We couldn’t agree more on your assessment of Danny. Aside from being one of the hardest working DJs out there, you have also been spending some time in the studio with Phil Moffa, cooking up extremely interesting techno. One of our favorites from 2013 ‘Next Phase’ was recently featured on a Get Physical compilation. Have you and Phil been working on anything new for this year?
Thanks! Seeing ‘Next Phase‘ end up on that comp was a nice surprise. We’re always working on stuff, but have nothing else planned for release yet. Look out for a ton of solo material, and heavy-hitting collabs from Phil next year, though, on some new (and old) exciting labels.
Last year you also started your own label Most Excellent Unltd. With two vinyl only releases under your belt, the releases have already picked up some steam from heavy weights such as Seth Troxler, Ben Ufo, Jacques Renault, Taimur Agha, Severino and many more. Two questions for you – what is your ethos behind the label and what are your main reasons for going the ‘vinyl only’ route?
After shuttering up my party in late ’12, I felt kind of lost. After a few weeks I’d realized everything I worked really hard for, and spent my money on was gone in a blink. Sure, the memories, and relationships that were made are priceless, but I had nothing physical to show for it. Doing a label had been on my mind at that point for quite a while, but I never had the time to focus on it. As I started to regroup, I realized I was in a great place to take the project on, and decided to go for it. The name lends itself to the ethos, really. I’m going to put out the most excellent music I come across, with no genre or style limits.
I like buying, and paying records, so it was natural for me to want to press up wax. There was enough to learn, and fuck up working with just vinyl, as I started out. I have nothing against digital, I just want to do it when the time is right, and when I think the right release will really benefit from it.
Well said, that definitely shows in what you are doing! The sister label to Most Excellent is something that every DJ should get their hands on and that is the Mr. K Edits series. How did you link up with Danny Krivit on getting these gems out into the wild and what can we expect in the future from this series?
Benny Soto introduced us at some point over the years of hanging out at 718, and we became friends. Sometimes he’d send me his track lists from his parties (he logs every track in full detail, down to the time played for every party he plays). I noticed a lot of what he played were his own personal edits, and most didn’t appear to have ever been released. One day I thought, “Fuck it, I’m going to see if he wants to release these with me,” so I asked him if he wanted to grab some pizza and talk about it. To my surprise, he was really into it, so almost immediately, I launched the sister label that has and will only release his personal edits. The plan is to put a set out every other release, so the next one is on the horizon, and hopefully will be in stores mid-September.
There is a lesson to be learned here – all good things begin with pizza. You have three very interesting gigs upcoming, RINSED with Blacky II & Braille at Le Bain on Aug 15, The Return of Garth & Jeno on the Output Roof on Sept 7 and on Sept 12 you will be at the Dolphin in Philadelphia with the aforementioned Danny Krivit. The variety of these DJs in just these three gigs alone is deep and is a testament to your versatility as an artist to play with them. Do you approach and prepare for your gigs any differently based on the artists that you are playing with?
For sure. I prepare a ton for every gig. As I mentioned earlier, every one presents a different challenge, and I just do my best to select the best records for the time and space I’m playing, and for whom I’m playing with.
Lastly, we see on Twitter you raving about La Sanwicherie every time that you are in Miami – while we agree that its great, we are New Yorkers and you cant beat our food. Where are your top sandwich joints at home?
Ha! I have Sandwicherie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when I’m down there, and will forever be spreading the word!