Interview: House maestro Paolo Rocco ready for 2018 after launch of RAWMoments vinyl imprint

Montreal artist Paolo Rocco launched the RAWMoments label in December with its very first record. The Canada-based imprint, a collaboration with close friends Lessi S and Pijynman, dropped a dubby house 12″ with two original cuts from the crew and two remixes from close acquaintances Diego Krause and Alix Alvarez. Armed with a number of new releases in the first quarter of 2018, the RAWMoments family are firmly championing the minimal house sound across the atlantic. In conversation with Paolo Rocco, we find out the story behind label, the latest record he’s got his hands on and lots more…

HMWL: Why now? What influenced the decision to start RAWMoments as a label?

After our RAWMoments events started introducing new artists to the roster, opening a label seemed like the next natural progressive step. Aside from that having my own label has been a long time coming. I’ve released a decent number of records on other labels over the years but it’s nice to finally have my own imprint where I can have 100% creative control.

Take us back to when you guys first started RM. Where did it all begin?

It actually started as a video series project years ago with me and a buddy of mine. We met as he just graduated from film school and it was around the same time my first few records came out that were charting very well. He was suppose to follow me around documentary style and show only raw clips of the whole “struggling artist” behind the scene type thing haha. We never really put those first videos out. Soon after I teamed up with another local Montreal DJ to start throwing our own parties under the same name and did raw clip style recaps for those events. This past year we’ve been shifting the brand yet again from an event series to more of an artist roster / record label with resident artists we’re working on building from the ground up.

You’ve had a lot of support from big names like Enzo Siraguza, Subb-an and Archie Hamilton. Has that been instrumental in creating excitement around the label and parties?

Ya I mean I was personally going through a bit of a rebrand sound wise the last couple of years. Before that I kind of sounded one way as a producer but another way as a DJ. So I took a little step back about a year ago and really tried to line up my sound as a producer with how I wanted to play as a DJ. After a couple of more dubby style records on more niche imprints it was actually Brawther (who I met a couple of times at gigs) who was interested in some of my production with fellow RAWM artist Lessi S. From wanting 1 track for a VA on his label it turned into a double vinyl with collabs from myself, Lessi S. and Pijynman which are the 3 artists RAWMoments is based around for now. So the double record we did for Brawther’s Courtesy Of Balance was self titled “RAWMoments” to kind of put out the name in the industry before we launched our own label. Scheduling with the releases got kind of messed up and our first release for the label actually ended up coming out before the one we did for Brawther but either way I’m super happy with all the support the music has been getting. Enzo Siragusa and some of the Fuse family as well have been supporting all the RAWM stuff since I’ve sent them early demos and for that I’m very thankful. It was a pleasure to go to their Fuse anniversary party last month and get to hang with them at heir flagship London night.

What’s your current production set-up?

I’ve actually sold a lot of gear lately and have been working more with samples and fx rather than synths. However I do have a couple of pieces I always revert too mostly because I know them inside out (motif, mpc, minitaur…). I’ve also made my own samples from previously owned pieces like the Juno 106, Korg Poly 800, Blowfeld and a bunch others I’m sure I’m forgetting. Pijynman has recently loaded up his studio with a whole bunch of hardware so when in need I just use him haha. In terms of sound card I’ve been using UAD for the last couple of years and for monitors I currently have Genelec.

Where do you gather inspiration between music sessions?

I’m honestly not sure… It’s a weird thing, I can get inspired by so many unrelated things all the time it’s hard to answer with consistency. I kind of just try to be aware of when I’m feeling inspired and harness it. When I’m not feeling so inspired, I just work outside of the studio and just try my best not to force it.

The RM logo features an extra hump in the heart. Is there a significance there?

There is but It’s not anything we ever advertised or ever made public. In fact I think most of the people who are working with us including some of the newer artists don’t even know what that is lol. But the extra heart hump kind of represents the extra piece of heart one needs to pursue a livelihood through their artistry. Without getting to cheesy and cliche the life of an artist or anyone following a passion is in many ways a struggle. It’s not like a typical job where you pretty much know what you have to do to achieve success. There’s no blueprint on how to make it in the art or independent world. Everyone has to just find their own way and it requires a little more will, resilience, perseverance and more when compared to a “normal” career. To sum it up I would say trying to build a livelihood by following your passion is not for everyone and our logo represents the bonding awareness someone pursuing their art has towards someone els who believes in living their life the same way.

It’s a vinyl driven imprint. What was the first record you ever bought?

First record I ever bought was Robert Owens – Never Too Late on Essence.

What was the last record you got your hands on?

Actually it was a couple of Fuse records Enzo put in my bag two Saturdays ago when opened up a show for him.

Transporting records across continents is obviously a nightmare. Do you often get opportunities to play on vinyl?

It really depends. I’ve heard horror stories about baggage being lost and stuff which freaks me out. Most of the vinyl I buy and bring is older, rarer, white label, more obscure stuff. I don’t buy newer music all that much so if I lose my records it’s a lot harder to replace. Usually if it’s somewhere I can drive or train to I bring them. But flying is tricky for me especially when in Europe. Because of logistics I try to slam everything I need in a carry on. So bringing records would mean I would have to check a bag which I want to avoid. So it really depends on how long the tour is, whether or not I have to check a bag anyways and stuff like that.

You’ve just got home following a recent trip in Europe. How was the reception of the new RAWMoments music?

Couldn’t ask for better actually. I mean once I was there people I met already new about everything. Most people knew about the first release for our label, the double record we did for Brawther’s imprint, the support around it… It’s been great.

What’s your favourite club to play at (anywhere in the world)?

This is a really tough question that I’ve been asked before and never able to answer. It’s hard because different parties have different vibes and when compared are equally great but still different. I will say though I recently played Heideglühen in Berlin and it was a pretty amazing time.

Do you have a dream destination you’d still like to visit as a Dj or just for fun?

For me it’s not so much about the destination but more about the people and the party. I was never one to desire playing a specific place, just good parties. As for a specific place for fun, I have an embarrassing confession to make… I have never been to Italy as much as I’ve toured every European country around it countless times and even have an Italian passport (dual citizenship with Canada). Not to mention my family is from there, I speak the language and pretty much grew up with all aspects of Italian culture however I have yet to visit the mother land.

Do you notice a different reception to the micro house sound in Europe compared to in North America?

Definitely. There is just more of a scene in Europe.

What would you see as some of the key values behind RAWMoments?

We used to have an unofficial slogan actually. “Life is defined by the Individual”. We were just a bunch of music buddies who were tired of waiting for others to give us approval let alone be told what kind of artists we were. So we took it into our own hands by doing our own thing from parties, to music, to our own label that way we’ll define what we are and at the end of it hope people agree with us haha.

What can we expect from the label in 2018?

Well the RAWM 02 is a first solo record for Lessi S. which we’re excited about. It has 2 Lessi S. originals, one collab between him and myself, and a surprise remixer. RAWM 03 is already done as well which will be a solo EP by me, and we’re presently finishing up RAWM 04 which will be Pijynman’s first solo record as well so we’re all very excited about the new material.

Thank you so much for the taking the time to dig (pun intended) through the RAWMoments world.

OUT NOW: [RAWM 01] Paolo Rocco & Pijynman (Diego Krause & Alix Alvarez remix Incl.) – Buy here.