Dear friends of URLOPOP.NET. Today’s guest is a person so interesting and complete that I prefer not to lose time in lousy introductions and to go straight to the point. I thrilled to get to know him better! I am proud to have here with us PAPA DJ of the Buddha Bar Monte Carlo. Let’s start our interview!
Papa Dj – I’m Donato Papadia, I was born in Puglia southern Italy, later I moved to the region of Veneto. For this reason I feel like a veneto-terrone. I am proud to be Italian, even though I have being living abroad for fifteen years. I live in the Principality of Monaco.
URLOPOP –Why did you move from the south of Italy to north of Italy and then abroad?
Papa Dj – I first moved to northern Italy due to family problems, and then aboard for work reasons. In the period 1995-1996 I was working as a DJ, and my occupation started to face some serious problems, that was the period when the public relations groups started to grow in importance. I was totally foreign to those groups. My fear was that sooner or later I would have been kicked-out from the business by these public relations groups. For this reason, I packed my bag with few things an left. That was is 1995.
I arrived in Sanremo, in a club close to the famous Ariston theatre, and in a lucky evening when I was playing I met a manager of a big company from Monte Carlo, he asked me if I wanted to work in the Principality of Monaco. Obviously I immediately accepted the offer and I started working for a club that has made the history of Monte Carlo’s nightlife: the Paradise. Then I discovered that the club was owned by SBM the largest company in Monte Carlo. From there I was asked to join the DJ-staff of the company, so I moved to Jimmy'z, which is one of the world’s top clubs and located in Monaco. It’s the best discotheque in Monte Carlo, known even on Mars, one of the world’s most famous clubs. I worked there for ten years. Then the company decided to open a Buddha bar in Monte Carlo, and I was asked if I wanted to take on this new challenge that changed completely my vision of music – from a club to what is now my life: lounge music & ethnic world music.
URLOPOP – What’s the real sense of Buddha bar’s music?
Papa Dj – Everybody thinks it’s all about oriental music, but that’s not true. The concept behind Buddha bar’s music is the concept of lounge-ethnic music, coming from all over the world, therefore not only oriental, but from the Balkans, Andalusia, China and the Far East. From all parts of the world. You have to put together the sounds to arrange the program.
URLOPOP – You mean that the Buddha bar DJ has to be also a producer?
Papa Dj – No, not exactly a producer. The exact definition of a Buddha bar DJ, is a world rhythms researcher. The musical progression for example could begin in your own homeland or the place where you live, in my case France, and after France move to Spain, passing through Morocco, musically speaking. Using also music with Arabic influences, from Saudi Arabia, then Turkey, and the Balkans, then moving east to – Ukraine, Russia, Armenia – and then back to European influence. A musical journey which keeps the spirit alive! My music goes with the food and the people that dine at the Buddha bar, the foods are very ethnic and unique, with dishes coming from all over the world. I match the music with what you are eating.
URLOPOP – Can you find a word to describe the Buddha bar?
Papa Dj – I think that the right word to describe the Buddha bar is “voyage”.
URLOPOP – So Buddha bar means voyage?
Papa Dj – The customer that comes to the Buddha bar knows already that the atmosphere will be totally different form a club. In fact the musical requests coming from the audience are never for commercial music. The best thing about working for the Buddha bar in Monte Carlo is the very cosmopolitan customers we have here in the Principality. You can discover all imaginable types of music, Arabic, African, Asiatic, Indian…If you listen to Buddha bar CD’s you can hear that there is a part dinner and a part club. In the dinner part, you can find these “voyages”. Ravin has been brilliant in following the path set by Claude Challe. Claude invented this fusion of music’s and matched them to create these musical voyages. There are no old or new disks – there is music that goes beyond what is fashionable or outdated, it’s a blend so strong that can cancel all borders., religious disputes and political debates. I can play a Armenian track and then a Turkish one, and while being well aware that in the past there have been some frictions, music unites and doesn’t divide!
URLOPOP – What is music for you?
Papa Dj – For me music is sharing. Music is life! It’s a means to stay together. A medium that could be used also in politics. Music is a sensation, an emotion. Everyone of us lives music in its own way, but for everyone music has a common factor, the thought that when you listen to something you can share it. The great fortune for the DJs that work for the Buddha bar is that they can share the musical situation of every country of the world.
URLOPOP – How many DJs does the Buddha bar have?
Papa Dj – The DJs of the Buddha bar are as many as the Buddha bar clubs around the world. There are many Buddha bars around the world. Let’s say that at the moment there are fourteen Buddha bars open.
URLOPOP – What do these Buddha bars have in common?
Papa Dj – All of them have in common the concept of food and music. Then all of my colleagues, the Buddha bar DJs, have their own personality, and while following the key aspects of the Buddha bar, they have the chance to express their own creativity. Monte Carlo at present has a very classical vision of the Buddha bar, classic dinne & nu disco style, tribal and ethnic house.
URLOPOP – I cannot avoid asking you if you play some kind of musical instrument?
Papa Dj – In my youth I played the trumpet and drums. From my childhood I have had this passion for playing music which I also studied.
URLOPOP – What is it that distinguishes the Buddha bar from other clubs?
Papa Dj – The possibility of playing music with ethnic instruments. The Buddha bar DJ is a sound designer that mixes various music situations from various places around the world. Putting them all together he builds a program that lasts two or three hours for the dinner part and then has the same amount of time to propose some ethnic music for dancing. When I play certain tracks, I see the audience climbing up the walls! Not only because it’s nice music, but because it is different. If you listen to a Buddha bar DJ you will never hear boring music but something new and exciting! You will hear things that required time to be researched and blended together.
URLOPOP – Are there some dj that claim to be Buddha bar DJs even though they are not? I believe that for sure there is someone that pretends to be a Buddha bar DJ.
Papa Dj – (laughs) It’s difficult to answer this question without being unpleasant or passing for an arrogant person!
No Buddha bar DJ is so presumptuous to say I am better than the rest. I think that all the DJs that work in the Buddha bar are aware that they are really lucky to be able to work in a club that has a different concept. I understand that being able to say “I am a Buddha bar DJ” is of enormous importance however.
URLOPOP – Who is it that decides who becomes a DJ of a Buddha bar? Is it the resident DJs of the existing Buddha bars or someone else? For example the manager of a new Buddha bar which is opening?
Papa Dj – Not us! We have no power to decide, it is the group who open the clubs who decide. Don’t forget we are talking about a franchising.
URLOPOP – But for example if you Buddha bar DJs hear a new DJ and you realize that doesn’t follow the style of the Buddha bars? What happens?
Papa Dj – We don’t decide..The Buddha bar tour allows us to play in various Buddha bars around the world, and it’s clear that when I hear other DJ I can express my opinion of them, not a judgment, but only my personal opinion. If by chance I hear commercial music in a Buddha bar I must say that there’s something wrong, because commercial music is more suitable for a club with a dance floor. Let me give you an example of the Buddha bar in Monte Carlo, each table is like a separate club. Each person creates his own world where he is. As one table is close to another, and the customers are cosmopolitan, it gives them the possibility to exchange opinions and sensations, even with the DJ.
URLOPOP – In the most unusual languages of the world.
Papa Dj – The strangest and most International that are possible. Going to a Buddha bar and listening to the top ten hits is not correct in my opinion. However, I am not the manager of a Buddha bar, and can’t go to the manager and say “this DJ is not the right person”. It must be the manager himself who understands what’s wrong. But I can assure you that having people like Ravin and Dimi.el the DJ of the BB of Dubai, who is responsible for instructing new BB DJs give us precise instructions of how we should work.
An then once the console is in your hands you must develop what you have been taught.
So, whoever thinks to imitate a Buddha bar DJ can pretend to be one, but will never be a real one because no one has really explained to him the characteristics you need to have to be a true BB DJ.
URLOPOP – Between all the situations that you found yourself in is there one you remember in particular?
Papa Dj – I was lucky enough to play at the Jimmy'z, one of the most exclusive clubs in the world and I can tell you that a saw more famous people inside there than on the tv, I can say that I’ve played for some incredible people.
Let me tell you about one occasion – one evening I was in the DJs cab, playing and one of the most famous actors was dancing on the dance floor, none other than Rober de Niro! At one of the table was Bono the front man of U2, at the table next to them REM, and text to them was Quincy Jones and other people of the same level such as Naomi Campbell, Lionel Richie…These were some of the evenings that I worked at the Jimmy'z
URLOPOP – And who of these people caught your attention in particular?
Papa Dj – On a personal level without a doubt George Benson, I remember that he knocked on the DJs cab and then came inside, we chatted about the music I was playing. We talked about all sorts of things, as if we had known each other for years! Even though we had only met each other five minutes before!
One of my biggest friends is John Lennon’s son - Sean Lennon, an incredible person. He is the son of a person that has written some of the most important songs in the history of music. We write to each other and we speak to each other and share lots of things together. But apart from this, I find that I get much more gratification from real artists rather than an impromptu person that disappears from the scene in a short time.
URLOPOP – What would you advise young people who are thinking of following your career?
Papa Dj – My advice to young people who want to take up a similar career? Approach this job with passion but humility, listen to everything without being biased, grasp the opportunity without forgetting where you came from, use technology but without leaving aside your manual skills that have always been an important part of a DJs job. Passion, passion passion!!