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Anthony Pappa: Australia's Number 1 DJ

Author: Benedetta Ferraro
Friday, March 15, 2002
Growing up in an a traditional Italian immigrant family who'd relocated to Australia, meant Australia's best known international DJ Anthony Pappa had an early grounding in the basics of building himself up from scratch. Working alongside his relatives in the family tap making business from early childhood, he not only appropriated a fiercely disciplined, almost puritanical work ethic, but also a love of music from his musician father.

Winning Australia's DMC mixing championship aged 15, he graduated to spinning before 4,000 capacity crowds, applying his DIY self made attitude to the role, before walking away from local recognition for a crack at the big prize; London. Not, however, via the usual route favoured by many Australians, of teaming up with their compadres in Earls Court and beyond.

"The people I've met over here were all English to be honest," he told Skrufff's Benedetta Ferraro this week. "But you can say that about Italians as well, can't you- They tend to stick together just as much as Aussies do."

"When I moved, I adapted very quickly to my new environment and I was prepared to compromise, while still being myself," said Anthony.

"I was so keen to get my DJing going, that I didn't let attitudes and a different culture come in between. England can be a cold place, in terms of making friends, but generally I'm an easy person to get on with."

Nowadays globally recognised from London to New York and beyond (and Australia of course) Pappa's reputation as a superstar DJ is assured, his

Status cemented following his Global Underground compilation of 1999 (acclaimed by many as the best of their entire series). Shortly about to launch a new compilation series with React, called Resolution, he took time out from his latest international tour, to discuss his journey to the top of the (DJ) tree.

Skrufff: You won many mixing contests in the past such as the DMC championships, how much did they help to open doors for you-

Anthony Pappa: "I was 15 years old at the time, and back then the DMC was a big door opening for me. After winning, two of the judges offered me a gig in a 4,000 people capacity club in Australia on Friday nights, which at that age is a very big deal. I've done bigger things since, but looking back, I feel it was a catalyst in my career as a DJ, and it certainly speeded up the whole process."

Skrufff: How do you regard DJ's like Jarvis Cocker and ex-Prodigy Leeroy, who although they play good tunes, aren't so up with their mixing skills-

Anthony Pappa: "As a craftsman I think DJs should be able to mix. Being good at mixing doesn't necessarily mean you are the best DJ in the world though, because your choice of records is vital. You also need to judge your audience's mood. Since I studied music theory at school, I also find useful it to organise my record box in keys, which means that apart from matching the beats I can mix the music of two records together to create a harmony. You can have singing from one record and music from another and create an entirely new song."

Skrufff: How hard has it been to get recognition-

Anthony Pappa: "It has been a little hard, especially when I relocated to England, where no one knew me, despite having already made a name for myself back in Australia. I felt I had to start again from scratch, but that didn't demoralise me because I'm a hard worker and I'm not prepared to stop until I get what I want. All in all I can say that I enjoy my job so much, I doesn't feel like I've struggled so much."

Skrufff: "Resolution" is your 7th mixed compilation in your career so far. What was your approach in keeping it fresh and different from the previous ones-

Anthony Pappa: "As a DJ it's important to play what is current, and it's pretty much part of my job week in week out. Releasing a mixed compilation is like a snapshot of what I do."

Skrufff: Do ever see the market for compilations ever reaching a saturation point-

Anthony Pappa