by Kristopher Upjohn |
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
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
"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!"