You’re no stranger to Dubai – what do you think of it?
I started going there in 1997 or 1998. It was a completely new thing back then, not really on the circuit, but I’ve been going back ever since. There’s always a new area, a new venue, a new hotel or a new vibe. I don’t think anywhere outside of Las Vegas has as much going on. It’s definitely on a par with Vegas.
But without the gambling and topless shows.
Well I can’t see those happening any time soon, but as far as the hotels and all-consuming heat goes…
Can you give us a sneak preview of your set?
He’s not very well known, but hopefully Jason Rooney is going to become big in the next year, and I’ve got some tracks by him. I’ve also got a load of new bootlegs – tracks that were big in 2008 and beefed up over the Christmas period. And The Prodigy’s got a new album coming out so I’ve got some mixes from that. Loads of good stuff, mate – it’s a pretty good time for music.
Do you like to push new music on your audience?
Pushing new music is an element of my job, but I’ve got to keep people entertained as well, so if the new stuff isn’t going down in the first half hour, I’ll change it up. I’d much rather have the place jumping than insist that they have to listen to my favourites.
You’ve been doing this for 17 years – what changes have you noticed?
Where do you want me to start? Buying music has completely changed, making music has completely changed – the whole thing has turned on its head really, for the better. I used to have to rent studios for £600 [Dhs3,280] a day. Now all you need is a laptop.
But that means there’s a lot more competition.
True, but there’s a lot of music out there, and it’s all branched off in all sorts of directions, which means it won’t get stale.
You’re in the first generation of DJs, aren’t you?
I’m just behind the Carl Coxes, the Grooveriders – they were the guys I was listening to when I was getting into it. So I’m probably second phase. I’m 37.
Yeah – according to the internet, Carl Cox is 46. Sorry about getting mixed up like that.
I suppose I did start relatively young and I’ve been around for God knows how long, so people do think I’m older than I am. I probably look 46 as well.
Do you think about the long-term future much?
I used to think: I don’t want to do this when I’m 40, no way. But as you get older, you realise it’s not too bad. You do feel a lot older in some of these clubs, that’s for sure, but as long as you’re on the ball and you’re music’s still accessible you’re OK. But I doubt I’ll be doing this regularly in 10 years’ time. If someone phones up in a decade and says, ‘Paul, we’ve got an amazing show and we want you to do it,’ then – I don’t know. I can’t see myself not wanting to do it but… I can’t say for sure.
Did you ever think dance music would be around for this long?
There was a punk sort of phase, where people were saying, ‘Is it going to last?’ But it branched out and just kept going. But for me it definitely diluted itself in 2003 or 2004, and then it was just done. After that there was this huge retro resurgence. I played a classic set on New Year’s Eve, and there were all these 18-25-year-olds singing along with tracks that were released 10 years ago.
That was only 1999.
I know! [laughs] That’s the most frightening bit. But for whatever reason they’re not getting into the new stuff. Instead, they’re into the energy of that era to the point that they’re buying tickets for it!
One last thing – I can’t seem to find out exactly how tall you are. Care to enlighten me?
I do sometimes. When I’m buying jeans, I really do wish I was a normal height. But what can you do?
Tall Paul plays Chi, Jan 16