Tall Paul


If old enough, then cast your mind way back when to the late 1980s, a time when the UK underground dance scene was on the verge of bubbling over to the mainstream and ready to take  the whole world by the throat. If you can get the images out of your head, (usually created by local and very dated news bulletins), of ever-so-slightly pale and malnourished ravers, decked out in mock British Rail work attire or any other luminous clothing (not forgetting whistles or marigold gloves) they could get their ‘prawny quavor’ hands on, then you’d have to agree that this period was a hugely productive and creative time for music, with free parties and illegal raves paving the way for acts like The Prodigy, Underworld and Fatboy Slim. Around the beginning of the early 1990’s, a young Paul Newman or DJ Tall Paul (as he’s known now) first took to the decks of his family run ‘Turnmills’ nightclub. Not to long after this he created a regular Friday night event there called ‘The Gallery’ which would, over the coming years, be hosted regularly by superstar DJ names such as Paul Van Dyk, Armin Van Buuren and Judge Jules. His passion for music and his desire for this right to succeed would eventually see him getting his own residencies in Brighton and Ibiza as well as countless global tours promoting this brand. As time went on and his name grew in stature, he achieved countless dance awards, played for nearly every dance event from Global to Gatecrasher, released singles, mix compilations, full albums as well as being called on duty to remix for acts such as The Stone Roses and Depeche Mode. Although Turnmills finally closed its doors around eighteen months ago, Tall Paul continues promoting, ‘The Gallery’ night, which now has residency at Ministry Of Sound, Elephant & Castle. This year sees the event reaching the ripe old age of fifteen and to kick off it’s celebrations DJ Tall Paul will be playing at Pam’s House 14th Birthday Bash on 30th of January at the UEA…

I believe I’ve got your undivided attention now but only until you have to go on the school run. With this in mind, I wondered how hard must it be to balance being a Dad and a superstar DJ?
(Laughs) It is very, very difficult. It’s just one of those things where it’s very hard to get the right balance when you need to be on the road to support and promote records, albums, labels etc. So yep, it’s a difficult combination to get right. I mean (laughs) getting in when your family are getting up is not ideal. That’s happened many times, but thankfully not so much now. I had to look at the long tours and try to keep them down to a bare minimum in order to keep a steady home life going.   

It appears you’ve been out of the limelight over the last year, so can you tell us what you’ve been up to throughout 2009?
To be honest, just doing what I’ve always been doing with my brother. We’ve been working on the monthly Gallery brand. Turnmills, which was our father’s club 22 years ago and then became our club (mine and my brothers), shut eighteen months ago, so we are trying to carry on the momentum from that. We moved the Gallery night to the Ministry of Sound on a Friday. Keeping the ideas flowing, ensuring we have the right DJs, looking at new talent and just generally trying to push it forward. We did a couple of tours as well this year – a summer one in America – so just really pushing that. It’s our fifteenth year next year so it’s all building up for a big month of partying in 2010.   

So it’s fair to assume there are big things in the pipeline for the birthday celebrations?
Yep, absolutely, lots of big line-ups, lots of big nights, all to be announced very soon. I think we’ll get NYE out of the way and then once the dust has settled we’ll see how the banks accounts lie (laughs)…

Looking through the comments people left on the ‘Turnmills’ home page it seems to have meant so much more than just a nightclub to so many people over the years, particularly for you and your family; it must have been very difficult to see its doors closing after the years of work you’ve put in. Could you see it opening up again in the future?
I honestly don’t know. That is a good question because we knew the date we were going to leave and it wasn’t a sudden thing – there was no shock. It was a big event that we were building to, so we were very prepared for it. Also, we knew we had a new home to go to afterwards. It was a strange one really. You sort of detach yourself from it so you are not left with your heartbroken. For me personally, I managed to detach myself completely from it. It’s been here, it’s gone; I’ve got the photographs, and some great memories. As much as the Gallery meant an awful lot to people, the club itself meant a lot more to me, because of what it was behind the scenes. Both the ups and the many downs as well. It was a real mixed bag of emotions, I mean not just the night times when you had 2000 people going crazy. I remember the low times when we’d open the doors and there would be no-one in there, losing money hand over fist. We had a couple of years at the beginning and then towards the end, where we thought, ‘Christ, it is getting tougher and tougher to try and keep this going’. So yeah a mixed bag really. But it’s nice to be positive and remember the good times.      

We are on the verge of entering a brand new decade. I wondered how you compare dance music ten years on from the millennium, when albums such as Underworld –  ‘Beaucoup Fish’, Chemical Brother – ‘Surrender’, Faithless – ‘Sunday 8pm’, Paul Van Dyke – ‘Out There & Back’ & Fatboy Slim – ‘Halfway Between the Gutter and the Stars’ were out doing the rounds?
That for me, the late nineties, was the peak. It started off as a bit of a strange one, with the over hype concerning the millennium night. It started off with thoughts of momentous amounts of money to get into places and DJs getting ridiculous cuts of doors but it actually ended up over pricing itself. It went the other way. There were only a couple of places I knew that ended up having a really good night. So it was a slight wake-up call. But leading up to that point the music was very special. Lots of them records from the late 1990s and early 2000s are still being regurgitated every two or three months with some sort of remix or some sort of new vibe and they still go down well. Even now, a lot of the Hip Hop and Dance stuff that you are hearing are heading towards that Housey speed – 110–120 BPM with kind of trancey, synth riffs in them. It re-emerges in different guises, but it’s always there.     

Where did you end up spending that particular NYE? 
I was up in Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield for God’s Kitchen. We were in a great big tent on the running track. I remember that night so clearly because our dog went missing. I let the dog out quickly to do his business and I had my suit on and everything. He just bolted and we had to leave and go to the show not knowing where he was. I was just thinking ‘oh no, I can’t believe the timing of this (sighs)’. Just as we turned up to the stadium we had a call saying he’d been found, so it was like right then here we go… but apart from that it was great fun.  

Can you tell us what you have planned for 2010?
Really all roads and all efforts are heading towards those dates for the Gallery Birthday. We are then planning on hitting the road with the Gallery brand and try to keep up its momentum in the form of a UK tour, which we will hopefully be heading up to your direction as well. We are still discussing this with the Ministry….

Are there any Tall Paul releases in the pipe line then?
Nope…(laughs) I knew you’d ask that question. No I’m not due to be in the studio or anything. It’s just really about the DJing and getting the inspiration to jump back in there. I haven’t had it for a couple of years to be honest. I don’t think I could promote a new record as much as I did before; I’m a bit more homely based now. I’m really enjoying my DJing at the moment, and I’m enjoying buying music and tracking it down. I love the thrill of the chase. I was saying to someone yesterday, how it’s back to where it once was… it’s a hobby, it’s my passion and I can sort of pick and choose now. I can play the right clubs with the right music – I’m not having to do everything all the time now. It did start to get slightly monotonous after a while. There are a lot of elements of travelling – you can be stuck on your own a lot – it depends on how you are with your own company… but you have to get used to it. Most people see you in the glamour of the club and in the hustle and bustle which creates a strange picture really. I did a tour of the States on a bus before and Jesus Christ, I take my hat off to those bands that do that, lugging their own gear about, sometimes only playing to around ten people. The bands that do that deserve everything they get…   

Your name is synonymous with Ibiza… do you still enjoy being out there as much as in its heyday?
Yep I do, but it’s all about spending time with the family now. We still have a couple of nights out getting amongst it when we are there. But yeah, I will always be out there, probably until the day I die. It has always had so much for me; you can go crazy and let your hair down. You can go to a nice restaurant, you can sit by the beach… it really is a great place for all aspects.

You’ve done a lot of great remixes in your time, and you have a resume to die for which includes work for Duran Duran, The Stone Roses, Blondie & New Order to name a few. But I wondered your thoughts on remixing?  It must be stressful at times considering who you are working for?
When you are being offered the tracks that you’ve mentioned, they are very difficult to turn down. You feel very honoured and obliged, then sometimes you are sitting there thinking ‘oh no, I shouldn’t have taken this one on, this is such a sacred record’. When I was asked to these things, they were after such a specific sound. You are basically giving them a new track because you’ve got to come up with new bass-lines, drums, riffs and then try and find somewhere to plonk a vocal in. It’s like doing a bootleg. When I was asked to do all this stuff, there was a huge dance craze and it was all about promotion. Like doing a Hip Hop mix for that crowd, or a Dance mix for this crowd, or even an Indie/Electro mix for another crowd and then on top of that, you have the actual single as well, which has got to be pushed in the record shops. But I really enjoyed it; I loved the thought process of it all. It’s like painting a picture. If there is one thing that I do miss as I don’t do as much of it now, it would certainly be that.

Which would you say, out of all the remixes you’ve done was the most challenging?
The Stone Roses ‘Fools Gold’, without a shadow of a doubt. I sat in a studio for four days wondering what I was going to do with it. I just couldn’t get the vibe going. I mean it’s such a tasty record. In the end I kept it a lot like the original, just split it up a bit and handed it back to them. It was a real headache. I ended up spending a week in a very expensive studio trying to figure that one out. I ended up going to down to Jon Pleased Wimmin’s club at the old Milk Bar on a Wednesday night and we played it. It went down really well.  

You’ve been DJing for over 20 years now, so it seems only fitting to ask how you would advice those coming through to make it in the dance world?
I’d love to quote Liam Gallagher in an article I read the other day where he said “What advice would I give them? Stay out of my fuckin’ way”, (laughs)… I thought what a brilliant response (laughs) and I thought the next time someone asks me that, that would be my response (laughs). I think the simple answer really (and it’s not rocket science) is the production side of it. That really is part and parcel of being a DJ nowadays. You’ve got to know your way around the programs that make music. You need to understand what makes people move, and how these bass lines work. You also need to get your music out there. There are not many DJs now that aren’t making their own music. DJing used to be the main thing and then you could be a producer, but it’s the other way around now. If you hit the scene with a great mix that’s played on the radio, the next thing that’s asked is can you DJ? It works that way now…       

Ok, I wondered if you were aware of the other Tall Paul, the erm, ‘Get Naked and Sing Loud’ Tall Paul – I got a little bit of a surprise when I Googled you…
I certainly am (laughs). I‘ve spoken to him many times; he has TallPaul.com. When we were putting the websites together we were like, ‘who is this guy?’ A load of people at the time had bought the rights to Tall Paul this and Tall Paul that, so we had to chase down a couple of them. So yeah, he used to be the guitarist for the Doobie Brothers. He was selling T-Shirts on his website saying ‘I’ve slept with Tall Paul’. I used to get some hilarious e-mails from friends who’d gone on there by mistake and couldn’t figure out what was going on. Also, I’d get really funny ones from his fans (Southeners mainly)… who’d be like ‘I’m not sure I like that kinda music Paul, what the hell, is this the new Country and Western…?!’ It was brilliant. He’s got the TallPaul.com but I’ve got the DJTallPaul.com

Staying on the internet, are you aware, or have you upset a certain Jeffrey O. Gustafson. For some reason he deleted your Wikipedia page?
Did he? I did not know that. I knew that there wasn’t a lot about me on there but I didn’t really look into why. I should really know these things…

Paul goes online and starts to read about this rogue blogger, who for some unbeknown reason has deleted a number of people’s wiki pages…
I bet he was an old Doobie Brothers roadie…
(Laughs) Yep, I bet he was…

You are wearing a Deftones T-Shirt in one of your press shots. Is that as in ‘Deftones’ the band?
Yes I am and it is Deftones as in the band. But don’t ask me too much about them. It was one of those nice T Shirts that I bought that just seems to wash well and fits well. Usually for me, that’s quite an achievement.

I believe you are really itno a lot of other genre’s of music, so would you consider maybe doing some rock or heavy metal mash-ups?
Well yeah. In fact I’ve done a few already. I’ve done a Killers remix and a Keane one as well. So yeah, I love the fact you can get a cross over like that. I’m all up for that. One of my first ever albums was AC/DC’s ‘Back in Black’. 

So outside of music what keeps you sane & happy?
As much down time with the kids as I can get. I love my sports. I like to watch football and playing it – I’m an Arsenal fan. I like to try and keep active and fit. I’m always trying to find my balance. I’m very aware of the late nights and the drinks, so I like to try and find a fitness balance. I really like that side of my life…

If you are not out playing on a Saturday night, where can you be found?
Haha, probably at home. No I er, like to go out to eat, I like to check out new places and catching up with my friends. There’ve been a lot of times I’ve been quite jealous of not being able to go to birthdays or other gatherings, so it’s nice to be able to go out and socialise without a pair of headphones on.

Finally you’ve played in Norwich before. Do you have any thoughts on your time here?
I’ve played a few places in Norwich. It’s one of those places that when people from the outer areas come into town for an event you tend to get an extra sort of vibe there. And that counts for a lot. Also, it’s gonna have that Birthday vibe as well, so it can only be a good one…


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