Purchasing his first ever 12-inch in 1979, DJ and producer Paul Goodyear fondly remembers the moment that Sylvester’s “You Make Me Feel Mighty Real” became the catalyst for his desire to become a DJ, and the beginning of his lifelong dedication and love for disco icon and queen Sylvester. Starting his DJ career 30 years ago in Sydney, he made his rounds for 20 years as a regular in the club circuit, from playing to crowds up to 25,000 to showcasing marathon 14-hour DJ sets.
While he visited San Francisco frequently during his career in the '90s playing parties like Pride and NYE, he officially made it his home in 2010. Since then, he’s continued to cultivate his musical expertise by playing locally and internationally, and most recently signing to RFC Records. He plays Go Bang!’s annual Sylvester tribute party this Saturday, [9/5], at The Stud.
What's the most significant change you've seen in DJing since you started in 1985?
I would have to say people's expectations when they go out these days. I'm generalizing here but most of today's clubbers just want that instant gratification of hearing all their favorite records one after another. I was so lucky to see the era of people going out and letting the DJ take them somewhere with the music that had a beginning a middle and an ending. It seems like today we live in a world of one trick pony's that can only play one style of music and stick to the same BPM all night!
What initially attracted you to disco music?
The very first records I heard were around 1974 and they happened to be the very early disco records being played on the radio. They were George Mccrae's “Rock Your Baby” and Carl Douglas’ “Kung Fu Fighting.” I started dance classes not long after this and did ballet, jazz Ballet, and tap dancing. A lot of the records I would hear at dance classes were disco records around 1977, so I was definitely associating my liking for the dance with records you could dance to. My sister was buying disco compilation LPs and I would listen to them for hours in her room and get “lost in music.” The white rock Top 40 records did not really interest me at the time. Of course as I grew up I learned to appreciate all kinds of music and love it all, really!
Since you've been collecting vinyl since you were 12, what would you say is your most prized possession?
I'd probably have to say my first 12-inch of Sylvester's “Mighty Real” because it's what started it all. After that it's hard to pick though. I have over 6000 pieces of vinyl that I have shipped all over the world with me so I love them all. They're my pride and joy, even though I don't play vinyl much anymore. I still buy rarities whenever I come across them. I've done a few culls over the years and kind of regret some of the records that got away — like “Forever” by Suzanne Meals. I see it come up on Discogs from time to time for 100 euros!
For those of us that have never experienced clubbing in Australia, what's the experience like summed up in a nutshell?
So I DJ’d in Australia for 20 years before leaving Oz in 2006. I got to see a wonderful period of parties all over Australia. The experience was out of this world! Mardi Gras parties that attracted up to 26,000 as well as Sleaze Ball (another huge event with 14,000 people) plus we also had a period from 1988 to around 1995 where we would have 3,000 to 5,000 people attend parties every weekend in Sydney. We had all the big artists performing as well as all the big DJs from overseas like Frankie Knuckles, David Morales, Victor Calderone, Kevin Saunderson, and Paul Oakenfold. The production values were and are world class to this day and we were up there with New York and London. Seriously!
Some of the artists included Sylvester, Boy George, Chaka Kahn, Jimmy Sommerville, Martha Wash, The Village People, George Michael — the list goes on. Australia has changed a lot in the past 10 years though. It's becoming ultra-conservative and while I've continued to play there pretty much every year I've been away, the club scene just doesn't have the magic it once had. It makes me a little sad.
What brought you to San Francisco?
Well, I have always had a fascination with the San Francisco disc/ hi-nrg scene. Like Sylvester, Patrick Cowley, Megatone and Fantasy records. So the first time I was able to travel here in 1992 I knew that this was the place I wanted to live in! It took years to get a visa to make the dream happen and here I am. Thank you to my wife Wilma as if it wasn't for her I wouldn't be here! I played here for the first time on NYE 1998 going into 1999 and after that came very regularly to spin. Some highlights include playing at the Civic Center and the Galleria for Gay Pride events. For someone who has always been fascinated by SF to be DJing in the middle of the Civic Center building with 2000 people dancing to my music kind of blew my mind.
You're also known as a master of marathon sets, with solo sets lasting up to 14 hours! How does one last through it?
Ah yes my residency at ARQ nightclub in Sydney was like no other. It was the equivalent of playing at the likes of NYC's Twilo or Roxy. We would have around 2,000 people come through every Saturday night and dance until early Sunday afternoon. I was able to take them on a magical music journey where I could do almost anything I wanted! The pure adrenaline of that many people eating out of the palm of your hands all night is enough to keep you going all night and all day [laughs]. I also used to bring a thermos of tea to my gigs with me from very early on. People always thought I was a little “odd.”
Congrats on your recent signing to RFC. Tell us a little about the upcoming single you're working on.
A little background on RFC…. Ray Francis Caviano was “the” promo guy at TK (Disco) and then went on to start his own subsidiary label (of Warner Bros — RFC). Without Ray Caviano there would have been no disco (or not as we know it anyway). Artists that were signed to RFC back in the day include Change, Gino Soccio, Suzy Q, Lace and Janice McLean. I'm a huge fan of the label from the '70s to the '80s. Skip forward a couple of decades and Ray has re-launched RFC with his first single “Raise Your Hands” featuring D Train. My first single for the label is a cover of the Jomanda house stormer “Make My Body Rock.” I've featured local talent Gypsy Love on vocals. We're expecting a release date for late September, early October. I am honored to be working with Ray and have to keep pinching myself. When I was listening to Luther singing on “The Glow of Love” back in 1980 I would never have imagined that I would become a stable mate.
This Saturday, you’ll be playing Sylvester’s tribute party. How has he impacted your musical career?
I was lucky enough to meet him in 1986 in Sydney and see him perform at Sleaze Ball. Back then in Sydney, artists would only be “allowed” to sing one song, as they didn't want to take away from the DJ's journey. Sylvester sang for 40 minutes — it was incredible and I was even more hooked.
My first record I bought was by him, I named our cat after him, I have covered one of his songs “Take Me To Heaven” which appeared in the TV show Queer as Folk, then I produced it again for an artist called Phillip Ramirez. I've edited heaps of Sylvester for my SanFranDisko edits and before including a full remix of “I Need You” using the master tapes, and I have pictures of his record covers in frames all over my house. You could say he was my #1 musical influence I suppose. Oh and I have a new kitten and her name is Izora — every Sylvester needs an Izora (one of the Two Tons o' Fun) in the background! This year will be my third year running at Go Bang! for the Sylvester tribute.
What song of his will you be showcasing this Saturday at Go Bang!?
So many great songs – so little time. I'll be playing loads of course but this year I've done a special version of “Take Me to Heaven.” Resident DJ's Sergio Fedasz, Prince Wolf and Steve Fabus will also be playing lots of Sylvester. It's going to be a Sylvester extravaganza! I love playing Go Bang! and am delighted to be playing with the boys once again! They throw a really great party here in San Francisco and the vibe and crowd are always just brilliant!
Having DJ'd for over 30 years, is there anything you haven't accomplished but hope to?
I've played some of the best gigs in the world but there's always more amazing gigs to do. Off the top of my head I'd love to play the Glastonbury Festival and Glitterbox in Ibiza with superstar DJ's Joey Negro and Dimitri from Paris. I've played with Joey before and can't wait to do it again.