Paul E. Lopes

A DJ is an instrumentalist–one crate of records, a set of turntables, and a whole lot of dexterous juggling creates the dance floor groove. Pinning down the definition of a true DJ is Toronto-based veteran Paul E. Lopes who will bless Calgary with some funkadelic

beats alongside De La Soul and Ivana Santilli on Oct. 8 at Coyotes Nightclub.

Recently signed to Virgin Records, Lopes’ debut Whatnaut:House is a fine demonstration of the Canadian urban scene. Like many other DJs, Paul E. Lopes found his genre through hip-hop. Granted that four elements–break-dance, rhyme, graffiti, and DJ–shape the hip-hop lifestyle, Lopes took his pick as a young teen.

“Pretty much when hip-hop became popular in ’81 or ’82, everyone in the area would want to become one of the four elements. I just thought the turntables would be the safest way to go because I can’t rap, can’t break-dance, and didn’t want all the aerosol in the lungs.”

Spinning at the early age of 14, Lopes’ vast collection of rare and timeless records is definitely explainable. Although most media give him the “House DJ” title, Lopes claims that he never drifted apart from hip-hop.

“I never really switched to house. In Toronto during the early ’90s pretty much any club you go to there is house music. It was just my thing to play stuff that wasn’t played by everyone else–a lot of hip-hop, underground hip-hop, breaks connected to hip-hop, and samples by the producers. It was my way to promote the music and go along with what’s going on.”

For the next decade Paul E. Lopes made his name by bringing down memorable mixes of funky beats and tunes to the dance-floor.

“It’s not that I don’t play hip-hop anymore, it’s just more in a mix now.”

Indeed, mixing is a fundamental part of spinning music. This is evident on Lopes’ debut starring guests Ivana Santilli, Ian Pooley, Sacha, and many other eminent figures of the underground. The 16 tracks of Whatnaut:House, though all under the same musical genre, collectively fabricate diverse sound–perhaps something unique that can only be found in Canada.

“My experience in Toronto has always been multicultural. It is probably one of the most multicultural places in the world. That was the kind of music I spun at clubs, and people in general accepted it. Really, it must be related to our experiences in Canada. I don’t think that this CD could have been made by someone out of a place not very multicultural. But it wasn’t even really supposed to be intentional. It just came out that way.”

As a Canadian, Lopes has found his place globally. He takes advantage of his culture, and instead of complaining about Canada lagging behind the U.K. and San Francisco, he is thankful for his location.

“We are at the point where San Francisco was a few years ago. DJs are noticing Canada and are aware of what’s going on.”

As for his own reputation, Lopes hopes to be known for making timeless mixes.

“These are the tracks I played the nights before, just let me pick out the best ones–not just the now-it-is-big-but-not-tomorrow. I don’t want it to be like ‘oh that sounds so much like ’95 or 2000.”‘

Lastly, Lopes shows confidence that the Calgary show will be a success.

“Look out for a nice show. It’s a perfect mix of music–De La Soul, Ivana Santilli, and myself–a full course meal, you know?”

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.