For DC vinyl record and classic rhythm and blues aficionado Soul Call Paul, aka Paul Vivari, the allure of playing the music he does is as much about spinning a classic from Otis Redding or Booker T and the MGs or little known Motown b-side, as it is about just hearing the sound of a record on a sound system.
“It’s a sound thing for me. Vinyl’s always sounded warmer; there are higher highs and lower lows. The bass is punishing, the drums are louder, the records were made to be played out,” Paul says. “I’ve never really DJ’d with CDs or anything like that. It always made sense to DJ with vinyl.”
When he’s behind the decks, he uses his sound in a very specific way, style and has a nightly expectation. “I like deeper cuts, you know, the ‘tough stuff.’ Motown songs by Geno Parks, Etta James’ cover of [Sonny and Cher’s] I Got You Babe, or drum-heavy early 60s ‘exotica’ records, things like that.” Regarding his retro-fitted progressive tastes, Paul realizes that “when [he plays] a DJ night, people are already confused that I’m not playing Top 40, but once they get into the mindset of hearing rare and oftentimes unreleased vinyl records, they end up dancing and having a good time.”
If you’re looking for a modern analogy for what Vivari plays, it’s not-to-be-found in the likes of the Uptown Funk tandem of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.
“I like what Brooklyn’s Daptone Records is doing. Artists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley are amazing, and the equipment they use to make those records is actual gear from the 60s, so, that’s great. However, is it as good as the records that were actually made in the 60s? Not necessarily. But, for people who may want to discover some of the artists and records I’m playing, they provide an excellent outlet to do so.”
Intimate settings serve Paul’s niche-marketed DJ sounds well, hence U Street corridor space Velvet Lounge is immediately named as his favorite place to spin. He believes it to be “one of the last spots on U Street that I can still go to. I’ve DJ’ed there for almost 10 years.” Noting a strong sonic similarity to many Top 40 pop songs, he says, [t]here’s like, 40 others bars in the radius [of Velvet Lounge] that are playing variations of the same stuff. However, Velvet’s just big enough that when you get a couple of people in there really moving, they feed off of each other, and a party gets started every time.”
Regarding his work, Vivari, as always, is intrigued by the art of getting people to dance, yet still to the point in his delivery.
“Dancing’s dancing,” he says. “It’s sort of what it’s always been, and some things never change. As much as people like a sure mainstream and current pop thing, sometimes they really want to enjoy something different.”
Follow Soul Call Paul on Twitter @soulcallpaul