"How I Got Here" series Part II with Dave Paul of Bomb Hip-Hop

Posted by Billyjam, February 28, 2012 09:47am | Post a Comment
Last month kicked off the new guest Amoeblog series with Dave Paul called How I Got Here with the first profile piece; an interview with Robbie Kowal of SunsetSF promotions company.  Upcoming in this this eight part 2012 guest series, which profiles various folks in the entertainment industry from doormen, DJ’s and promoters to venue owners, managers, and booking agents, will be such folks as DJ Z-Trip, Ren Salgado of True Skool (San Francisco), Traci P of R.A.W. Entertainment in Las Vegas, Mike Maietta of CEG Presents in New York, and Dave Paul himself who is profiled in this second part of the series. San Francisco born and raised Paul, who is a regular to the Amoeblog having been interviewed or quoted here several times in the past - usually about music, talks here specifically about his appoach to the industry from starting out as a DJ to running both the Bomb Hip-Hop Magazine and record label of the same name to,, more recently, club DJ & promoter producing his Prince and Michael Jackson themed dance parties in SF and around the country for the past nine years.

Amoeblog: When did you begin DJing and was there any particular Bay Area DJ(s) that inspired you?

Dave Paul: I started DJing in 1984. There were a couple of DJ crews that inspired me liked Ultimate Creations and Nitelife Sensations. Also there were master mixers like Michael Erickson and Cameron Paul on KSOL radio. And of course Bobby G from Soul Disco records. He was a real mentor to the hip-hop community during that era.

Amoeblog: How did you go from being a mobile and radio Dj to first publishing a magazine?

Dave Paul: I was doing a rap show on college radio in 1990 at KCSF (City College of San Francisco). I used to do a monthly playlist that would also contain a paragraph or two with a concert review or small article. I had written a couple of pieces for new rap publications but the magazines never put out their first issues. One morning I woke up and decided that I was going to do a hip-hop magazine myself. I put the first issue together (Oct. 1991) by using an old typewriter, reducing the size of the text on a copy machine and then pasting the paragraphs together with a glue stick... pretty archaic, but it worked! At that point there was really just The Source and then when I started up Bomb there was One Nut Network from back east and then later on came The Flavor (Seattle), Straight From The Lip (San Diego), and other magazines like that. In 1992 I issued two flexidiscs by a then unknown Dan the Automator (of Dr. Octagon/Deltron fame), Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf and other artists inside The Bomb Hip-Hop Magazine. While doing the publication I would always receive demo tapes for our Demos section in the magazine. In 1994 I released an album titled Bomb Hip-Hop Compilation that featured Blackalicious, Charizma & Peanut Butter Wolf as well as many others that we has been in contact with by receiving and reviewing their demos. Bomb Hip-Hop Compilation was outta print basically right after it came out in 1994. I originally released the album when I was doing the magazine in conjunction with an independent label from Los Angeles. They got credit from the pressing plant, sold the albums and took off with the money and didn't pay the pressing plant or pay me anything for the artists share as well as my cut... that was my introduction to the record business. That's when I learned I had to do it on my own. That was basically the start of Bomb turning into a record label.

Amoeblog: And when you completely stopped the magazine to focus just on the label -  how did that transition come about?

Dave Paul: For a while I was doing the magazine, the record label, the store, the mail order catalog and the concerts... so I had to eliminate some of them because I was only one person practically doing all of this. The magazine was cool but it was only breaking even so I was like "well let me go with the records 'cos there seems to be some money there," but the problem with records is you can lose a lot of money on a release. I learned that the hard way. It's just like gambling, in fact - it is gambling. Did you know of the 7,000 "new" artists and releases that major record labels put out every year only 10% make a profit. Nowadays with the economy so bad, retail prices still to high for a CD, illegal downloading and an oversaturated market it's hard to release music and make money. From 2000 on the record business has been in a horrible decline.

While your label put out just as many emcee/rap releases as DJ/turntablist ones it is always best known/remembered for its Return of the DJ series. How did that infamous series come about?

Dave Paul: When I came up with the concept of the first Return of the DJ in 1994 I was dissappointed with rap albums no longer featuring dj's scratching on them. Rap artists no longer featured DJ's on tour or on their albums. Probably for a few reasons - sample clearance became a factor when making an album for a major company and I guess rappers figured why pay a DJ since hip-hop fans didn't care about scratching anymore and why give up another slice of the pie (pay a DJ) when you can use a DAT on tour which had not been a previous option. Back in the day there used to be Joe Cooley, Mr. Mixx, Miz, Jazzy Jeff, Cash Money etc. on albums... scratching on the chorus of some songs and at least having their own DJ solo song on the album. Those were some of the models of what we all considered "DJ songs". So I decided to contact DJ's that I knew and make a whole album of scratching music. I just told the DJ's make their tracks however they could, and try to keep it under 5 minutes. The rest fell into place. I don't think it was some super intelligent concept, it's just no one thought of it (or at least did it) before I did. In fact, the first volume released in 1995 didn't really didn't blow up. It wasn't until 1997 when Volume II came out that people caught on and then I re-released the first volume. I think recorded turntablism music would have come about anyway. I just think that Return of the DJ sped up that process by a couple of years. It showed DJ's that they could create and release music on their own instead of trying to find a rapper to work with.

Amoeblog: Then after the label ran its course you seemed to go full time into doing your parties - both promoting them and DJing them - essentially returning to your roots as a DJ. Do you prefer Djing or running the label?

Dave Paul: Too be honest dj'ing is way more fun than releasing records. I started out dj'ing and it's great to be dj'ing after all these years. I still get a thrill out of rocking an audience and making them sweat on the dance floor. I take what I learned from releasing records, the marketing & promo aspects, and what I learned from producing hip-hop concerts over the years and use my experience to produce theme parties. The Prince and Michael Experience, That 80s Show, Girls Rule, and I have a few others. As a dj performing in bars and nightclubs I've learned a very important lesson - us dj's are not in the music business or the entertainment business, we are in the alcohol sales business. Once that sinks in, you start to see the big picture and understand your role.

Amoeblog: Many might find it odd that someone who ran a hip-hop label would morph into a Michael Jackson/Prince party promoter/DJ. What personally made you make this move? 

Dave Paul: I've been a Prince fan for a long time, and for a while, an avid collector (vinyl, CD's, posters, buttons, magazines etc). In 2002 I wanted to do an all Prince party here in San Francisco. But there had already been all Prince parties out here, Dream Factory and a couple of others. I was discussing my dilemma with my friend Jeff Harris who is a huge MJ fan, and he suggested why don't we do Prince and Michael Jackson. So I brought all my Prince records and he brought all his Michael records and that's how it started.

Amoeblog: As a DJ what's your approach to DJing a night - like will you pre-plan your set exactly or wing it or a combo of both?

Dave Paul: We [Paul and DJ partner Jeff Harris} never pre-plan a set. We just spin song by song on the fly. So the biggest challenge is just reading the crowd - giving them what they want, and giving them what you think they need.

Amoeblog: Every business person has some personal approach to business, a philosophy of some sort, that they apply to developing their business. What is yours? 

Dave Paul: A friend dropped by my place once, and he was like "you know what, there are three kinds of people: A third of the people love you, a third of the people don't really care, and a third of the people are always gonna hate you. Forget about the people that hate you, the people that love you - they're always gonna love you, but worry about getting that third of the people that really don't care: get them to love you." It's a good way of thinking when it comes to the entertainment business.

Relevant Tags

Bomb Hip Hop (2), Dave Paul (17), Jeff Harris (3), Prince Michael Experience (2), That 80's Show (2), Bobby G (1), Cameron Paul (2), Ksol (1), Michael Jackson (57)