Members: Paula “Pau” Fernandez, Zahira “Zahi” Sanchez
Occupation: DJs, producers
Current Release: Cuba, Get Physical!, curated by PAUZA, is out via Get Physical.
Recommendations: We recommend you listen to Benny More, they call him the barbarian of rhythm. He is a masterpiece of our culture, our favourite song is “La Mucura”.
If you enjoyed this interview with PAUZA and would like to stay up to date with the duo's music and current DJ dates, visit them on Instagram, Facebook, Soundcloud, and twitter.
Can you talk a bit about your interest in or fascination for DJing? Which DJs, clubs or experiences captured your imagination in the beginning?
We started as part of the audience, seeing other DJs in Havana.
We were fascinated by that power of emitting sensations in people through music.
What made it appealing to you to DJ yourself? What was it that you wanted to express and what, did you feel, did you have to add artistically?
We wanted to have the power to make people feel certain sensations through music. We also wanted to make use of the folkloric and traditional music of Cuba in our DJ sets.
Clubs are still the natural home for DJing. What makes the club experience unique? Which clubs you've played or danced at are perfect for realising your vision – and why?
The great thing about a club is that it is a small space which you can merge with your personal style.
For example, we love to turn the club into a jungle. Our sounds are very tropical and folkloricistic, so it is an environment that we like to recreate.
There is a long tradition of cross-pollination between DJing and producing. Can you talk a bit about how this manifests itself in your own work?
For us it was always a key thing to make music. We started PAUZA almost 10 years ago, and whilst we think it is valid to be just a DJ and play music, we wanted to be more than that.
We wanted to be artists who create music with a concept, who do shows with a concept. We want people to follow us because they really see something different in us and because they have fun playing our music. It's a wonderful thing.
What role does digging for music still play for your work as a DJ? Tell me a bit about what kind of music you will look for and the balance between picking material which a) excites you, b) which will please the audience and c) fulfill certain functions within your DJ set.
We are very meticulous with the music we play. It has to have a rhythm that can be played in the hot hour of the night, that reflects our concept as artists - folklore, cuba, tradition, rum. We like our fans to really hear this in our sets.
I've always wondered: How is it possible for DJs to memorise so many tracks? How do you store tracks in your mind – traditionally as grooves + melodies + harmonies or as colours, energy levels, shapes?
We're both very different in this regard. For example Zahi never remembers the exact names of the artists or the name of the track. She only says: the song sounds like this, and explains by singing how it is. (laughs) Pau does remember all the details, name, label, artist, everything.
So between us, we have a balance.
Using your very latest DJ set as an example, what does your approach look like, from selecting the material and preparing for and opening a set? What were some of the transitions that really worked looking back?
Honestly we never use an exact list to play in a club or anywhere. We flow a lot by observing the guests, how they vibrate. If they need it faster, more rhythm, drier – all of that depends a lot on the people.
So we don't have an exact way of choosing music. It’s just about vibing.
How does the decision making process work during a gig with regards to wanting to play certain records, the next transition and where you want the set to go? How far do you tend to plan ahead during a set?
We never plan our sessions, we only vibrate with people.
As a DJ, you can compose a set of many short tracks or play them out in full, get involved with mixing or keep the tunes as the producer intended them, create fluent seagues or tension. Tell me about your personal preferences in this regard, please.
We usually add our touch to each track, either through transitions, effects, or live instruments and percussion.
Pieces can sound entirely different as part of a DJ set compared to playing them on their own. How do you explain this? Which tracks from your collection don't seem like much outside of a DJ set but are incredible effective and versatile on a gig?
We always add new things to the tracks. We never leave the original exactly the way it is. That's what your creativity as an artist is all about.
In terms of the overall architecture of a DJ set, how do you work with energy levels, peaks and troughs and the experience of time?
We really like to set fire to the whole set. We usually play 2 hours of pure bangers.
Online DJ mixes, created in the studio as a solitary event, have become ubiquitous. From your experience with the format, what changes when it comes to the way you DJ – and to the experience as a whole - when you subtract the audience?
Evidently playing in front of people always has more power, but we put a lot of love into everything we do. So I feel that everything we do always has a good vibe.
Advances in AI-supported DJing look set to transform the trade. For the future, where do you see the role of humans in DJing versus that of technology?
A person always does unique things that technology cannot achieve.
It's not the same to put a set on Soundcloud and hit play compared to seeing a DJ play the same set. It is completely different.
Let's imagine you lost all your music for one night and all there is left at the venue is a crate of records containing a random selection of music. How would you approach this set?
Hahaha wow … that's precisely why we always carry several USB drives so that doesn't happen.
But let's imagine that yes … Well I think I'd play random music and dance excessively until I spread my vibe to everyone.