February 06 2014

Paul Raffaele: Most Excellent

New York-Le Bain

The Standard: Let's say you have a meeting with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Lovine who might invest money in your label, Most Excellent. What's your pitch to them?

Paul Raffaele: It would worry me that the same guys that think the Beats headphones sound good, were the same guys that thought my records sounded good, and would want to put money into them.

This time the meeting is with Michael Winterbottom, the director of 24 Hour Party People. He is working on a movie with the NY nightlife of the 00s and 2010s as a background and might pick you as one of the character...

Mr Winterbottom would have to reach to make the story of my life thus far into a movie. I've been around the block a few times, but my story isn't as nearly as interesting as other's. Kid lives in suburbs, watches 'Rap City: Tha Basement' on BET, buys turntables, tries to scratch, fails, listens to really bad music for a long time, hears Ben Watt (!), starts working for Giant Step and starts listening to good music, starts a party with a friend, has ups and downs, moves to Manhattan, ends party with friend, makes first records, starts label, answers questions for The Standard. So yeah, I'd probably end up telling him to call James Friedman, he has great stories.

If your label Most Excellent was a place on earth, where would it be?

Le Bain's jacuzzi. You take the risk of your life changing forever once you jump in.

And a NYC hero?

It would be John's Deli's 3/4 hot roast beef hero with fresh mutz, and gravy, no onions. The Stillwell Ave location goes through 30 gallons of their secret gravy a day. Why? Because it's most excellent.

How did you come up with a new release with the legendary Danny Krivit?

I met Danny about six years ago from going to his 718 Sessions parties quite frequently. My friend, and Danny's partner in the party, Benny Soto introduced us, and put in a good word for me. In August 2009, Benny asked me to open for Danny at Cielo. Danny and I got on real well, and I've played with him a lot since then, including gigs at 718 which were dreams come true.

But how did you jump from here to releasing his music on your new label?

When I started the label, I decided to ask Danny if he'd be interesting in putting out some of the unreleased edits he'd been making and playing over the years. To my amazement, he was into the idea, and, over pizza. I explained my idea, and he decided it was a good time to have some of these see the light of day. The first in an ongoing series will be Mr K edits of Girls Can't Help It's Baby Doll, and The Vince Montana Sextet's Heavy Vibes due out mid-late February. The MXMRK edits will act as a sister label of sorts that will run alongside the original music I'll be releasing under Most Excellent.

What about another legend of U.S. House, Mr Simonelli, who will be playing at Le Bain?

In that same meeting I had with Danny, Victor Simonelli's name came up somehow. I think I was telling him about Gerd's recent rework of Do You Feel Me or something. He told me about the work he did with Victor in the 90's under 'SK Project' & 'Second Choice.' I had no idea, and thought it was really awesome. From then on, I couldn't get the idea of having them play together out of my head. Thankfully we were able to make the dates work, and Le Bain shared the same excitement to make this happen!

Friday February 28, Le Bain presents Most Excellent featuring Danny Krivit, Victor Simonelli and Paul Raffaele. The Standard, High Line. Doors 10pm.