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written by Kristopher Upjohn

Let's face it. House has a reputation for repetitiveness (as does trance, to be fair) and often the accusation is true. However, the genre roots its listener interest in textures. But house isn't always that way. Case in point: Julius Papp.

Listen: every month Julius Papp co-hosts the jam-packed Saturday "Foundation" party with Miguel Migs and Jay-J Hernandez at San Francisco’s legendary End Up, and his Thump Radio sets air two Saturdays a month on Alice 97.3FM.

Rarely have I encountered as much diversity in a house CD as when I listened to Papp's "Neodisco Vol. 1: Gotta Keep Movin," the new release from his Neodisco label. The label name is actually a good hint of what helps the flavor and dynamics on "Gotta Keep Movin," given its heavy retro feel in places. But we'll get back to that.

I had a chance to throw a few questions at Papp about his new disc and the first thing I mentioned was Papp's accomplishment in producing a house compilation (featuring a few pieces of his own, by the way) that didn't come off as a little monotonous. "I'm glad you've picked up on the fact that my mix CD does have variety," Papp told me. I wondered how hard it was for him to pull off. Like many artists in various genres (electronic and otherwise) whom I've reviewed, Papp said it wasn't entirely a conscious effort. He just does what he does, making music that makes him happy, it seems.

"I didn't really plan it that way, other than that it represents my eclectic taste in music programming - whether it be for a mix CD or for the dancefloor," he said. "I really have no difficulty achieving that, as there is more than enough quality music to choose from, as well as variety."

Something else that helps set Papp's music aside from much electronica is its earthier, more organic feel. Much trance, for example, is extremely electronic, residing in a world of audio science fiction, with very little, if any, tinge of meatier organic tones. Not so "Gotta Keep Movin." Here, too, I explored whether or not it was a deliberate effort on Papp's part, or if it's just a natural product of his creative mind. "I would say that soulful house music generally leans toward a more organic feel, indeed. I tend to gravitate toward that type of house music because it moves me most." Like artists all over the world, Papp creates music based on what he likes. This is common and an answer I've encountered in a variety of talks with other music creators. How else can you put the passion in the music you make if it doesn't give you passion as a listener?

It's ironic, in some ways, that an organic flavor would be so appealing in electronic music, which is often, by definition, the textbook opposite of organic. Papp's take: "I think one reason that organic sounds may be more appealing is that it has more of a 'human feel' to it. It could have a warmer feeling, therefore giving it 'soul.' " He had no comment when I asked him what he'd respond to someone who felt that this much organic flavor defeats the purpose of music being electronic to begin with.

Now, speaking of 'soul,' there's the fact that Papp's music often evokes a feeling of music from the past. Again, something of a departure for a lot of electronic music, which, by its very nature, is future thinking and, of course, future sounding. And again, was it a deliberate act of Papp's? If so, was nostalgia a motive?

"Well, the nostalgic feel you mention is due to the fact that several tracks on the compilation are disco influenced," he said. "That disco influence certainly gives it a retro feel. Disco influenced house music with a modern interpretation." So, in a way, Papp is just returning the genre to its roots. "My music definitely has an organic/retro flavor at times. Those elements are quite often part of my music productions."

It seems something of a challenge to craft house music and make it stand out from huge, milling (or is it dancing?) crowd of house CDs in the record store music bins. But, as before, so now, Papp doesn't really find that it's a conscious effort: "I don't really think about it too much. I just get in the studio and produce music from my heart. It's the only way I know." One thing Papp can say was deliberate, I think, was the eclecticism that contributes heavily to the sound dynamic on "Gotta Keep Movin." In Papp's own words, "My approach was to include variety and have an eclectic selection so the listener could enjoy the ride." And it's an enjoyable ride, indeed.

Papp's heavily soul/disco influenced tunes have legitimate credentials, finding roots in Papp's listening earlier in life. "I did grow up listening to disco and soul," he told me. It shows! "However, I've always been a fan of different styles of music, including jazz, and even rock. I've been around a long time and when I went to clubs, disco was always king on the dance floor. It made people move and groove, and it had this energy - which I fell in love with." And this love comes through loud and clear on the new disc, let me tell you. Past soul and disco, I queried Papp about other genres - anything else he'd consider throwing in the mix in future? "I've actually fused several styles of music in my productions. I've done everything from downtempo jazzy tracks to deep vocal songs. From techy to tribal. I've always approached recording music with a philosophy that incorporates several of my musical influences." As for those future efforts I was asking about ... "One of my projects that I've just finished, which started 2 years ago, is a downtempo album. It will be perfect for chillin' out to ... my alter ego at work!"

Papp's final thoughts: "Support dance music! Dance music certainly doesn't get the respect it deserves! It's up to you to keep it alive! Cheers!"




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