Paul Raffaele and Barbie Bertisch are two of the hardest working DJs in New York. Besides playing regular gigs across Brooklyn, the pair also have two radio shows (on The Lot Radio and klangbox.fm), run the Most Excellent Unlimited record label and put out the Love Injection fanzine every month. They also host Classic Album Sundays at Good Room with Ron Like Hell. On top of this, they also work 9 to 5.
But they do it for the love and it’s rare to see a pair as passionate as these two. They’re playing at the FIXED party on March 5 so we asked these partners in crime to interview each other ahead of their set.
Barbie Bertisch: If you could pick one visual artist or designer whose work has helped define you, Most Excellent, Love Injection, and everything you do, who would it be?
Paul Raffaele: Herb Lubalin, the type designer. I studied under his protege Tony DiSpigna in college. Everything I do is all over the place, but I guess the only consistency is my usage of type. I usually stick to the classics, and always have “What would Herb do?” in the back of my head.
How do you connect or make sense of the DJ/label guy you and the Art Director you – how are these two intertwined?
They are the same person just in different parts of the day 🙂 I don’t think I’ve found synergy between the two yet. I see other label owners / art directors that seem to have it way more together than I do. I can objectively look at client work and understand what needs to be done rather instantly, but when it comes to my own stuff, it’s a never ending WIP mess that I generally am never happy with.
Why do you love Ben Watt so much? Which phase of his career relates to you the most?
Where do I even begin? My white whale. I guess two things stick out above all. First, and most obvious his Buzzin’ Fly period, which is when I learned most about him. Attention to detail to the label aesthetic, the influential compilations, the community he built around it, his radio shows on BBC 6, and his absolutely life-changing DJ sets that I’ve witnessed. Second, his choice to quit DJing, slow his life down, spend more time with his family, and work on other passion projects. I don’t see my self do that any time soon – my career hasn’t even begun yet – but I am feeling the urge to slow life down a bit. Sitting and listening to music, not raging all weekend every weekend, slowing the BPMs down – basically stopping to smell the roses. I’d imaging that’s where his head’s at as well.
Paul Raffaele: What was the first record you bought with your own money?
Barbie Bertisch: Hmm – Pretty sure first vinyl record was Depeche Mode’s Some Great Reward. Although I can’t be sure, I think once I bought my first, others quickly followed and it all becomes very blurry. I can’t say my first cd was as great of a purchase, it may have been when we first moved to Miami in 2002 and I was like 14 years old and into stuff that a 14 year old south american would be into. I think it may have been JLo.
What are your top 5 Argentinian anthems?
Oof. There’s like stuff that my parents listened to around the house, stuff that came into my life through culture and being a kid there, other campfire-type classics. They’re all over the place so they each need some sort of context.
Corazon Delator – Soda Stereo
They’re legends that came a bit before my time but I grew to appreciate them with age. I became a huge Cerati (their lead member) during my teens years and was absolutely crushed upon news of his stoke.
Mil Horas – Abuelos de la Nada
A flat out anthem. If you’re from Argentina and don’t know this song, they should strip you off your nationality.
Sandro – Como Lo Hice Yo
My dad’s a huge Sandro fan and used to always sing this around the house. He’s like the Elvis of Argentina, a total playboy, and my dad’s hero.
Los Calientes – Babasonicos
This may or may not be tied to like a first romance growing up there. It was the Babasonicos’ crossover hit, I believe, and it stuck with me forever. I still love it and their early works Trance Zomba, Miami, Dopadromo, etc.
No Voy En Tren – Charly García
Campfire jam meets super funky what they call “Rock Nacional” classic. Worth pointing out Charly is a legend and out of his mind.
What’s your craziest Discogs story?
Aside from randomly buying stuff from people that later come at me like “Yo Barbie it’s so and so” and it’s usually buddies which is awesome. I had (what I believe was) a misogynist grouch offer me discounted shipping if I sent him a picture of my boobs. Felt pretty shitty and couldn’t believe this conversation was even had. Pretty sure he’s not offering free shipping to all the dudes out there in exchange for a boob pic. Oh well, I gave him a shitty review and the dude apologized.
Paul and Barbie are playing in the Bad Room on March 5 at the FIXED party with Pional and John Barera. Tickets available here.