Project Pablo Project Pablo
Photo by Rebecca Storm

Coffee and Sandwiches with Project Pablo

June 17, 2016
Text by Markus Blahus
Project Pablo
Photo by Rebecca Storm

When Glow booked the acclaimed Montreal-based producer and DJ Project Pablo to Vienna, PW-Magazine took the chance and met him for coffee and sandwich.

I’m a big fan of your album ‘I Want To Believe’ and I have played tracks like ‘Duatang’ on many occasions in clubs around Vienna and people reacted great to it.

Have you ever been to Vienna and what are your associations with this city?

Thanks for having me! To be honest? None. I haven’t even seen any Austrian movies. I only had history lessons in school but that’s about it. I guess the one thing I learned though is that Austrians are at the forefront concerning organic foods. I learned that on my way to Graz yesterday.

This is your second tour in the EU after you played some 1080p label nights last year with Max McFerren and Scientific Dreamz of U.

Do you already feel like touring and playing in clubs is getting a routine or does it still seems fresh and new to you?

It still seems quite fresh because the last time I was touring with friends and I only played one weekend of solo shows. But this time it was all solo shows and that makes things very different. You’re getting in touch with more people, talk to the promoters and their friends, rather than just hanging out with the persons you already know.

Did you find some inspirations for future tracks on your EU trip so far? The flight with Ryan Air or your ‘studio’ in Berlin seemed to impress you a lot…

Yeah (chuckles), I was finishing some tracks in that studio in Berlin, but I haven’t been able to make anything new to be honest. Making music on a laptop is a little tedious, especially in between travelling.

But staying at so many different places and hearing different DJs play their music and even going b2b with them towards the end of the nights is something I really like.

In the end, it’s their group of friends who are dancing there and they know best what works and what doesn’t. It’s just fun seeing different reactions to different songs that I usually wouldn’t play.

Would you say that it is important to listen to the resident DJs who are programmed around you when you are booked to play the main slot?

Yes of course, I think there’s generally a better vibe in the room if you have been booked somewhere and take part in the night. I do the same thing as all these promoters back in Montreal, I bring people in to my monthly night and I always warm up for them, it’s fun seeing other people play.

1080p has made quite a reputation over the last years for throwing out quality releases nonstop and still being very unpredictable in terms of musical output.

From your groovy, futuristic yet retrospective, house sound to the acid and break mentality of Max McFerren’s ‘Sipps’ EP there’s a lot of different things going on.

Would you say a genre term like »House« is the common denominator of all this or is it something else?

I guess you could lump that in and use terms like ‘House’ and ‘Breakbeat House’ even though there’s a lot of music on 1080p that is way beyond that too. There’s some throwback rave stuff that is not even close to House or there are also a lot of Indie based releases but yeah in an over generalized version you could say House, yes.

What appeals to you the most about that label? 

Is it the music by other artists, the beautiful artworks, the local proximity to where you live, the fast-release approach or something else?

Each artist has to plan own artworks. But for the actual 12” records, Richard McFarlane (label head of 1080p) does that and he usually collaborates with a friend on that. But then, for all the tapes, the musicians usually pick the artists who they want to work with.

What interests me most about 1080p are the people one works with. Richard is quite the character, and it’s fun to hang around and be pals with him. Even though it’s a Canadian label, Richard himself is from New Zealand and many other artists are actually from New York City.

You once said that you only like to classify music into labels for organizational purposes and in your online mixes you don’t restrict yourself to just one genre (Ambient- Soul-Pop-Disco and more).

Do you incorporate this philosophy into your DJ sets as well? Do you also play tracks outside the 115-130 BPM range sometimes? 

I think everybody classifies music because it’s easier to talk about it but I don’t like to push it on anybody. And yeah, sure, I’m never going to play a straight House set, I’ve got a lot of different influences and like to include them. And I actually like to play a lot of stuff outside that range.

I found this really great dub version of ‘Juicy Fruit’ at 80BPM while I was in London which I have been playing and there’s a lot of random edits of Funk stuff that I have been buying.

It also depends on the night obviously, when there’s a DJ afterwards you wouldn’t want to throw them a huge curveball with a difficult track but if it’s the end of the set and you are the one that’s finishing the night off it’s fun to play things that go elsewhere.

In another interview you once said your music is “for kitchen and club use”. Are you a good cook and as you have been on tour now for quite a while, what has been your favorite place to eat and why?

Not really, unfortunately. I can cook some specific things but I’m not one of those people that can do everything. But my penne pasta with tomato sauce and my curry dish are awesome (laughs).

My favorite dish in Europe so far was in Madrid when the promoters took me to this restaurant where an old grandmother cooked for everybody. I got tortillas, which were very different to what you would get served at oversea places. I was thrown off big time and very confused but didn’t show it to them but it tasted really good and was very enjoyable. And it felt like a home meal because there were like 15 people all sitting on a big table and grabbing from the same plate - that was really fun.

Also in Berlin, you can have a lot of different Shawarmas and stuff that can be a hit or miss. At the end of one night I had one and it tasted great, but the next day I paid for it (laughs). You gotta find the right place!

You said before that you quit your job when you moved to Montreal to focus on your musical career. Outside of producing and DJing do you have other plans on how to spend your professional time?

Sure, I’m also doing a label called ASL Singles Club, it has only one future release for now and it is mostly digital but we’re re-launching it in 2016 and will distribute it through Lobster Distribution and I’m running another label called ‘Sobo’ which is a sublabel of an Indie Label in Montreal called Arbutus Records.

That’s interesting, is there a lot of interaction between the Indie and the House & Techno scene In Montreal?

When I came to Montreal, I got right into the bands scene and didn’t know people in the electronic scene. There are big clubs with an afterhour sound where I don’t really know anyone of the DJs and promoters. But in the North, there are loft spaces and smaller venues for club nights as well as live shows for bands and that’s mostly where I’m more involved. Collectives like ‘Boomer’ and ‘Temple’ are intertwined between Noise, Techno, Indie and more.

What was the weirdest thing that ever happened to you while you were DJing?

On our tour with the 1080p guys last year, Scientific Dreamz of U was DJing and played really heavy stuff from old rave gods but slowed them down to 120bpm and suddenly this tall lady came up and pointed a gun finger at him and pretended to shoot him in the head. She looked so pissed off and we didn’t know what was going on. After the gig she came up to us and told him, “You shouldn’t be playing these records, a lot of these DJs are dead now!” I guess that was pretty weird.

What is your “safest” record to play during a set?

There is this one Patrice Rushen track ‘Haven’t You Heard’ and I have a digital edit of it and it’s such a hit, but I still play it from time to time. When I put it on, most people already know the chord progression and the words and sometimes that can be a bit scary but whatever it’s a lot of fun to sing along and have a good time. A friend of mine also showed me this early record of DJ Tonka, who is more known for his big Ibiza hits, called ‘She knows you’ which is one of my dance floor savers. It works every time.

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