Interviews Phonica Mix Series

Phonica Mix Series 19: Massimiliano Pagliara

Up next on our Phonica Mix Series is the Lecce born and Berlin based Massimiliano Pagliara!

The last time we saw Massi he was playing an in-store event for us here at Phonica and the crowd absolutely loved it! We’ve always been big fans of him here at the shop for his outstanding productions which have landed on labels such as ‘Live At Robert Johnson’ on ‘Rush Hour’ but Massi has been a DJ much longer than he’s been a producer and the vast amount of experience he has acquired playing at some of the best underground spots around the world simply can’t be ignored. Recently he’s also been welcomed into the Ostgut family with a spot on their agency’s roster and things seem to only be getting better. Massi describes his style behind the decks as an eclectic mix of House, Disco, Electro and Techno. His selection always pays homage to the past while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of dance music into the future. He also reflects this ethos in the studio where he experiments with new techniques on old analogue synthesizers. With a background in Dance and Choreography, Massimiliano definitely knows what it takes to get you moving and we couldn’t be happier with the extended and eclectic mix he prepared for us today. We also decided to ask him a few questions to help you get to know him better. Check it all down below.


Hey Massi! How’s everything going over in Berlin?

Hello there. Yeah, besides the fact that it’s starting to get quite cold everything else is fine over here!  Actually almost every weekend I’m on the road so usually when I’m here I try to spend as much time as possible in the studio. When I’m not in the studio I like to meet up with my friends and cook some food, go to the gym or party around town. 😉

Tell us a bit about the mix you’ve prepared for us today?

This mix has been recorded live in my studio, using two Technics 1210MK2, two CDJS Pioneer 350 and one Ecler Nuo-4 mixer. The majority of the mix was recorded using vinyl but I also used a couple of digital promos too. This is how I also usually play when I’m in a club.

Usually when I am asked to record a podcast I normally try to think of some tunes that I usually don’t play out in clubs, such as very slow stuff, dark-ambient-experimental-electronica-cosmic kind of stuff. This time I had the same idea in mind, but then I somehow went in a more club oriented direction. The mix starts a little slower and perhaps more abstract, but it grows to be more psychedelic and groovier, with some ups and downs (meaning moments of tension and then release again).

So in the end, this mix is similar to how I would play in a club, yet with a more laid back attitude. After all, when I recorded the mix, I was alone in the studio and didn’t have that kind of vibe or energy/response typical of a club, when there is a crowd in front of you.

So yeah, I basically tried to offer a little portrait of me and some of the tracks featured are also the ones that I am enjoying playing out in clubs right now. Another thing is that usually a podcast always needs to be short and this isn’t easy for me to do. It’s the same story when I DJ, I prefer a longer set, because I have more time to build the story I’m trying to tell. Thus, the selection of the tracks hasn’t been easy, due to time limits,  but I have tried to put out all the tracks that have had a certain significance for me, and each of them in a different way.

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Before you became a full time producer and DJ we know you achieved an academic diploma in Theatre, Dance and Choreography. What made you change career paths?

I get this question very often but the answer is always the same: it’s all because of Berlin! 😉

I’m so sure that if I didn’t take the decision to move here and stayed in Italy all this would have never happened. When I arrived here back in 2001 I was immediately introduced to the one club that actually changed my life: Ostgut (the old Berghain). My friends took me there on my first day here in Berlin, which coincidentally was a Saturday night. I was simply blown away and from that moment on, music has become more and more important to me and eventually became the only thing I could use to really express myself.

I have also been very lucky to meet lots of great DJs that showed me how to mix (mostly at some private warming-up/ after parties) as well as some great producers later on, that showed me many great things about music in general and production techniques. I am very thankful to each and every one of them.

Both of your albums (‘Focus for Infinity’ and ‘With One Another’) landed on the well-respected ‘Live At Robert Johnson’ imprint. Can we expect another LP on the same label?

I have been working on a few new and different projects lately, such as two new solo EPs that will soon come out separately on the German imprint Uncanny Valley, a collaboration/co-production with a friend of mine for Correspondant records and quite a few remix requests as well. I have also got a few new machines and I am also taking some time to learn how to use them and experiment with different techniques. So, the idea of a new album isn’t quite there yet, but it could definitely happen again, at some point via LARJ.

You’ve recently been welcomed into the OstGut family. What’s your relationship with the team and how did it all come together?

Somehow the connection has been there for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I had the chance to experience their first club, OstGut/Panorama Bar, and have spent many nights there, as well as in the new one, Berghain.  This totally changed my life and vision about many things and led me to become what I am today. For the past three years I’ve been a regular DJ guest for them so when I received the request to join the agency I was of course very flattered! So yeah, I feel more than honoured to have officially joined the OstGut family and have the chance to spin every month at Panorama Bar and do my very best to entertain the best crowd a DJ could possibly have!

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Besides your solo work we know you also work in collaboration with Egyptian Nipples, The Rimshooters, [sic!] and Drei Fragezeichen. Could you tell us a bit more about these projects and what we can expect from them in the future?

Yes, that is true, besides my solo work, I do have a few other side projects, which are collaborations with some close friends that I have a special musical connection with.

Egyptian Nipples for example is a collaboration with my long term and dear friend/ music partner Jules Etienne. He is actually been one of the first to show and teach me many things about music production.

I still remember our first jam sessions, back in 2006, when I started to build up my studio… so funky! He is such a funky, groovy and super talented musician! He can play so many different instruments (in fact he often played guitars, bass guitars, drums or did some vocals in some of my solo projects as well). With him and together with another dear friend, Alessandro Tartari, we also did the little pop-disco project called [sic!]. Alessandro became my first piano teacher here in Berlin and he is one of my favourite singers. In fact, he also sang on some of my other projects too.

The Rimshooters is a collaboration with the Brazilian Rotciv, who has been living in Berlin since 2011. The name comes from our big passion for the rimshot sound, as found on vintage drum machines such as Roland TR-808, 909, 707. Our work includes original production as well as re-edits and other things.

Drei Fragezeichen is together with nd_baumecker. I have known him for more than 10 years, so he is one of my oldest friends here in Berlin. I have always been so impressed by his DJ skills and musical knowledge. He is one of the first people that I’ve met that has really opened my mind about music and in this sense, has inspired me a lot. The project came out of a pure spontaneous gig we had together at Panorama Bar about two years ago. Before that session we had never played together. It was so much fun that we then decided to play a few more gigs together as well. It still is a very spontaneous project… We do it together when we both feel the time is right and/or if we are invited to play as Drei Fragenzeichen. We also go to the studio together from time to time for a jam session.
I also have a few other side projects in the pipeline with other friends, but there is never enough time for everything. So yeah, I definitely hope to be doing more projects with them, but each of us also have our own lives and our own projects and everything takes time.

We know you’re a big record collector and often buy a lot of stuff you’ll never play in one of your DJ sets. Could you share something with us you find particularly interesting at the moment?

Uhm, let’s see. I could think of ADMX-71 – Coherent Abstractions (which I have also charted in my last Phonica chart ;;), the new Floating Points – Elaenia and Laraaji – Celestial Music 1978-2011.

2015 is about to come to a close… what’s your new years resolution and what are you looking forward to in 2016?

Oh that is a big question! 😉 I haven’t really thought about it yet, but I’ll definitely try to work on and finalise as many projects as possible. Of course one of these is also my third album, but then you know, you can’t put too much pressure on creativity. These things simply take time and I often have to remind myself of that and try to keep calm, especially when I have the feeling that I am slow or somewhat lost.



DRESVN – Woodlandscience EP
GONNO    – Confusion
COOPERS -Indian Acid
JACQUES BON & VIRGO FOUR – Machine Love (superpitcher Extended Version)
CHINASKI – Angel Heart
SAVAGE HYMN – Indecision
E-WORK #1 – Who Do You Believe In?
ART OF TONES – The Rainbow Song
PANTHERA KRAUSE – If (b. Fröhlich Basic Refix)
THE CLUB KIDS – You Can Take Me
JOSE PADILLA – Lollipop (dream 2 Science Rmx)
JACK J – Thirstin’
BOOF – Peter Found Is Z
L FACTOR – Bass Line
FATIMA YAMAHA    – Whats A Girl To Do


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