Opinion
3 min

From the Speakers: special edition

Deko-Ze gets to know Italian DJ Pagano

DJ Pagano will play Toronto for the first time ever this spring. Credit: -

Featured DJ: Pagano (Francesco Pagano)

Hometown: Catania, Sicily. Italy.

Current town: London, U.K.

Residencies: Alegria (New York City), MatinĂ©e’s Circuit Festival (Barcelona), Rapido After (Amsterdam), La Demence (Brussels).

You will be making your first appearance in Toronto!  For those not familiar with your sound, how would you describe it?

Indeed the gig at Coda will be my Toronto debut and I am really looking forward to it. To be honest, my sound has changed a lot throughout the years: first it was hard-house, then it leaned more towards what used to be called progressive house (not that EDM crap they call progressive these days,) but recently it is a mix of house, tech-house and techno. What has never changed is my approach to selecting what to play and the desire to keep it cutting-edge and full of energy. I do play some vocal tracks every now and then but I have never been a big fan of pop music remixes. I do not play a pop song unless the remix is exceptional and innovative and it is usually a remix of an indie pop tune rather than a teen pop track — horrifying!

How were you introduced to dance music?

I’ve been passionate about music since I was a young child.  I have been listening to all sort of music: from rock to Italo Disco to soulful stuff and everything in-between. In my vinyl collection from that time you will find albums from The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Clash, A-Ha and Pet Shop Boys alongside albums from Art Of Noise, Beastie Boys and Spagna. Then in my late teens I started to hear about the new music genres coming from Chicago and Detroit called house and techno. I was immediately fascinated and hooked. It was all pretty organic. The east coast of Sicily, where I grew up, has always been quite forward thinking and open-minded when it comes to music. We always had independent radio stations and clubs playing the newest and more credible stuff alongside the usual charts hits.

Bears, muscle jocks or twinks?

I do not really like labels. A sexy man is a sexy man regarding of the age or the body shape. What I definitely do not like is people completely shaving all their body hair. I can understand a little man-scaping when things get out of hand but I generally like manly men.  

How has the gay-scene across Europe changed over the past 20 years? 

It has changed dramatically. When I started going out there were different types of clubs playing a variety of music. These days everywhere I turn I hear pop music and of the worst kind. The kind a teenage girl would listen to. Gay men used to set trends, these days they do not even follow them. There are obviously a few exceptions especially in big cities around Europe. I guess I should not really complain about it because it is this lack of variety that helps me and my sound set apart from the rest.

You’ve played in countries all across the world including Italy, the UK, Spain, Mexico, The Netherlands, USA, Germany, Brazil, Israel, Russia etc . . .   What is the difference between the gay scene and the straight club scene?

It is true that I play in gay and straight clubs all over the world. I enjoy playing both scenes. When gay men get into it they really go wild and give you great reactions. However, I generally get the sensation that not every gay man goes out clubbing exclusively for the music. Gay men usually go clubbing mainly for the social aspect of it and for the men (sex – oh no really?). In the straight clubs I find the kids are usually there for the music. In some countries they even all face towards the DJ booth staring at you and waiting for you to take them on a journey. 

Your music has been supported by many of the heavyweights: Carl Cox, Umek, Chus & Ceballos, Tiesto, Paul Van Dyk, etc.  If you could collaborate with any non-dance music artist, who would it be? 

I would love to collaborate with some of my favourite present-day indie bands like Gus Gus, Cut Copy or Holy Ghost! I would also like to work on Bjork or Gotye material because I really like their unique voices and singing styles.

What are you most proud of in your life?  

The fact that in spite of everyone always trying to dissuade me or putting me down I have never gave up my dream to make a career out of music. Everything I have achieved I did because I worked hard and not because of my look or because of my social skills at networking. Actually people do not like me at first because I am opinionated and I tell it how it is. Don’t you just hate a fake bitch?

What are your Top 5 favourite tracks right now?  

1- Pagano – “Everybody Hip Housin” (1605)

2- Jason Chance & Pagano – “Just Like That” (Toolroom)

3 – Pagano – “Blues in Thy Name“ (Deeperfect)

4 – Manuel Rotondo – “Don't Stop (Pagano remix)“ (Space Round Records)

5 – Danny Tenaglia & Celeda – “Music is the Answer (Pagano remix 2014)” (Twisted)