Pasta Paul makes his Funkademia debut on February 4th, in celebration of 10 years as a Manchester resident.
We caught up with the local DJ, pasta conoisseur and Twitter legend to talk about his love of vinyl, serving a (slightly) drunk Mark Ronson in Piccadilly Records, and how he nearly ended up on 'Take Me Out'.
Hi Paul! You're playing at Funkademia on 4th February to celebrate 10 years of living in Manchester. Why did you first come to Manchester all those years ago, and what was the first thing you did when you got here?
In a word, music. Yes, I started working at a record store in late 2001 as an Xmas temp, managed to be kept on after, then moved here in the first weekend of February 2002. Manchester felt like, and still feels like a new city. Coming out of the glorious pioneering industrial era into the dark industrial decline… then, through music, art and culture it managed to drag itself up and have a rebirth. So much has changed in 10 years, let alone 20. Plus, I wanted to be in a band and be the next big thing. I'm still working on that though.
You must get asked this all the time, but where does the name Pasta Paul come from?
I'm the best pasta chef in the country, of course! Well, it's either that or the fact I can't cook and pasta is dead cheap and easy to make. You decide.
How did you first get into DJing?
I fell into it as I realised I wasn't good enough to be in a band, and I have quite a broad taste in music so being able to play a vast variety of music to people always appealed to me.
Are there any other cities that you could see yourself living in, or are you quite settled in Manchester?
Manchester forever! I never went to London before I came to Manchester so maybe things might have been different if I had. But even though I've never been I think NYC is probably the only city that I'd seriously think about moving to. For now though, MCR is where it's at.
You work in the legendary Manchester record shop Piccadilly Records, which is known for being frequented by many resident and touring musicians. Who's the biggest legend you've ever served, and what did they buy?
Well the shop has been going for 33 years now so I think that list would probably contain a who's who of musical royalty. But a few personal favourites have been LCD Soundsystem on numerous occasions, Paul Weller, Willy Mason, Terry Hall, Laura Marling and Mark Ronson and his crew turning up late and (slightly) drunk. I'm still waiting for Noel Gallagher to come in! He used to, but before my time.
You're a rare commodity in DJ land these days, in that you play mostly (or all?) vinyl. Did your love of vinyl come about through your years spent working at record shops, or did your love of vinyl attract you to working in record shops?
Yeah, turning up with a few bags of records these days throws a few curious glances my when I arrive at bars/clubs. I've always had a love of vinyl but only started collecting when I moved here. I actually started buying it but didn't play it, as I thought it was too precious. Which it is, but not enough to not play it. My love of music attracted me to working in record shops, not the format.
What's the most valuable/rare vinyl that you own?
I have no idea what's the most valuable in monetary terms. They are all valuable to me in some way as they all tell a story.
What are your attitudes to vinyl vs CDs? Are you a vinyl purist, or do you think everything has its place?
In terms of DJing I'm not a purist in the slightest. Personally I actually hate the feel of a CD so try not to touch them if I can avoid it. Music is music. But there is nothing better than putting the needle on a record in a darkly lit room; candles, wine, no distractions and listening whilst being completely engrossed in the artwork/packaging.
You've been DJing in Manchester for a long time now, and have some notable residencies under your belt. Are there any gigs you've played that have been particularly memorable?
The most memorable gigs are the ones that go all wrong. Ha. No seriously though, I mainly play in bars so it's hard to tell but playing for Pop 'Til You Drop on New Years' Eve in the music hall at The Deaf Institute bringing in 2012 was pretty cool.
You're known for your wide ranging musical tastes, playing everything from world music to pop. What, if anything, unites the music you play?
I think the one thing that unites what I play is that it ends up being a reflection of my mind. I don't really plan my sets, I just pull out records at home, fill a few record bags and see what happens. Playing a record and seeing where the night takes you one after the other is part of the fun.
The Baby Funk room at Funkademia is known for hosting an eclectic range of DJs and musical styles - and you're known for your wide ranging, eclectic tastes. What kind of music are you planning on playing on 4th Feb?
And here's me thinking it was just called the 'back room'. I feel more honoured to be playing there now than I did before. I think the main room will be slightly more on the popular side of funk so I'll hopefully be bringing an alternative to that. Afro-beats, disco, electro, house, boogie, maybe a few indie-pop tunes.
We hear there was a Twitter campaign lately to try and get you to apply for the ITV dating show 'Take Me Out'. It even had its own hashtag - #takemeoutpasta. Tell us about that? Will we be seeing you on the show anytime soon?
Haha. I was DJing at the pop up bowling alley in Spinningfields last year. A producer gave me his business card and told me to apply. I had never seen the show, as I don't have a TV. I instantly tweeted about it, and it went from there. Days later I saw some YouTube clips. It's safe to say I won't be going on the show.
You're something of a twitter legend in Manchester. Tell us, in no more than 140 characters, why people should come and see you at Funkademia.
I'll keep you prancing and dancing all night.So come and help me celebrate 10 years of trying to be a Mancunian!Let the pasta see the sauce.
That actually is exactly 140 characters too. Thanks Paul!
Photo: Sebastian Matthes
Help Pasta Paul celebrate 10 years in Manchester at his Funkademia debut on Saturday 4th February.
Tickets are available through Skiddle below.
Tickets are no longer available for this event