Pagano’s 10 career-defining tracks

Influenced by his years as a resident DJ at the legendary London after-hours club, Trade, Pagano has cemented his reputation as one of Europe’s most driven and creative DJs to come out of the London club scene with residencies at Belgium’s La Demence (Fuse, Brussels), Spain’s Matinee parties (Barcelona & Ibiza) and London’s XXL club. 

Steeped in the groove and not sticking to one sound whilst referencing that ‘90s house, hard house and nu-energy vibes that have helped shape the sound of London’s gay club scene, Pagano is pushing the sound via his KISM label which celebrated their debut compilation, ‘Evolution Vol 1’ earlier this year featuring artists such as Paride Saraceni, Filterheadz, Skober, Chris Bekker, Tuff London and Agent Orange. The compilation managed to climb five Beatport charts simultaneously, hitting the #1 slot in one of them.

With his ‘The Rebel’ release on Toolroom still rocking floors, Pagano continues to prove why his productions have crossed over with new productions to come in December including ‘Bring The House Down’ on DJ 2000 And One’s legendary Dutch imprint Bitten and ‘The Black Sheep’ featuring a Skiver Remix on his KISM imprint. 

Pagano’s releases have racked up support from A-list DJs in the mainstream and underground scene including Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Nicole Moudaber, Paco Osuna, Joseph Capriati, Monika Kruse, Mark Knight, Format:B, Danny Tenaglia, Chris Lake and Tiesto, and here he runs down his ’10 Career Defining Tracks’ that have rocked his dance floors and moved things on to the next level. 

1. Pagano & Maico - Work It (BXR)

“This was my first production that was ever played on BBC Radio 1 all the way back in 2002. I was working at Media Records as Head of A&R for Nukleuz Italy at the time and when Mauro Picotto heard this demo he snatched it for release on his label BXR Superclub. The label made famous by his hits Iguana, Lizard, Komodo and by releases from other great artists such as Joy Kitikonti, Mario Piu’ and Thomas Schumacher. There is a percussive techno mix and a tech house version with a speed garage bassline. The Tek Trib Mix was very popular with many techno DJs at the time and ended up being played on BBC Radio 1.” 

2. Lionrock - Packet Of Peace (Deconstruction)

“This ‘90s classic has been very influential for me. I used to play it quite often when I was cutting my teeth as a young DJ in the local clubs of my native Sicily. Originally released by Deconstruction in the UK, this has been remixed by some of the biggest names on both side of the Atlantic from techno legend Jeff Mills to big beat pioneers The Chemical Brothers.”

3. Robbie Rivera - Feel This (Strictly Rhythm)

“This is probably the epitome of tribal at a time when the genre was credible and at its peak. Just after the turn of the millennium I used to have the honour to open for many big techno and trance DJs such as Chris Liebing or Scott Bond in clubs around Northern Italy. This rhythmic masterpiece by the American Robbie Rivera was one of the biggest tracks in my sets and perfect to warm up a room before a much faster and energetic DJ would take over.” 

4. Pagano - Breaking Bad (Kult Records & Deeperfect)

“One of my projects that I am most fond of. Inspired by the TV series ‘Breaking Bad’ this tribal techno tune was initially released on the American Kult Records. Subsequently it was licensed to Stefano Noferini’s label Deeperfect after the legendary Carl Cox played it in his radio show and hammered it live for weeks. Sometimes when I get in the studio I just want to have some fun and the ideas simply come out without me having to really think about it. Those are usually my most successful studio sessions and this is a clear example of that.”

5. DJ Phantasy & DJ Seduction - D.J.’s Unite Vol. 1 (Liquid Wax Records)

“This track from 1992 represents an era when the scene did not give so much importance to labelling and sub-genres. When techno, hardcore, break and trance were all starting to shape up from the sound of the European rave scene. This effort by DJ Phantasy & DJ Seduction was definitely one of my favourites thanks to its numerous riffs and to the fact that the arrangement keeps changing. I see it a bit like a collage of different parts that come together to give life to a very euphoric tune.”

6. Pagano feat Shena - Rise (KISM)

“Initially a bootleg that went on to become the first big record on my then recently launched label KISM Recordings. This one is important because it gave credibility to my label. I was chatting with a DJ and Promoter from Milan I have known for years and we were joking about producing a techno track with soulful vocals and that’s how this idea came about. When I was put in touch with Shena (of Full Intention fame) I knew she was the perfect singer for this project. We commissioned a remix from Paride Saraceni (Truesoul/Tronic) and he did such a fantastic job that the track ended up being supported by a myriad of big names including Drumcode’s Adam Beyer and Roger Sanchez among others.”   

7. Fluke - Groovy Feeling (Circa)

“I love the build up into an ethereal and feel good journey of the ‘Make Mine A 99’ version. I remember how mesmerised I was while listening to this vinyl in my bedroom for the first time. This track from 1993 was part of the sound that would be called progressive house. I am not sure why, but when I was a teenager my taste would often gravitate towards many electronic bands and producers coming from the UK especially Orbital, 808 State, Rollo, Underworld, Shamen and Fluke.” 

8. Pagano feat Wilmien - Loca (Stereo Productions)

“It is now nearly 10 years since I released this melodic house/progressive house track on Chus & Ceballos label Stereo. It was my third  track on this Spanish imprint. The lyrics are inspired by a gig I played at Privilege in Ibiza where I saw this young woman dancing to my music with her eyes closed. In my mind it seemed it was just her and the music. ‘Loca’ was probably the catalyst to my European success and consequent gigs and DJ residencies around the continent.”

9. Christian Smith - Flyertalk (Bedrock)

“A track that you have to listen from the beginning to the end to fully appreciate it. Flirting with techno, progressive and acid for me it’s one of those electronic tracks that defined the sound of the early Noughties. Thanks to my DJ residencies at the legendary London club-night Trade and at Egg LDN I’ve had the pleasure to DJ alongside Christian Smith a couple of times. I was already a fan of his productions and after I met him I became even more so as he struck me as a very humble, talented DJ.”  

10. Pagano - My Pumpin Bassline (1605)

“Released on UMEK’s label 1605 this pays homage to the legendary Wildchild. I remember playing his tracks on vinyl during my years as a DJ in Northern Italy in the ‘90s. They were always great floor pleasers. On this release once again I flirted with tech house and speed garage and support really came from across the board with fans Chris Lake to Format:B. I tested the demo for months during my DJ sets and went back to the studio several times before being happy with the result.” 

Pagano’s new track ‘The Black Sheep’ featuring a Skiver Remix is out on KISM Recordings in December, available on Beatport from Friday 14th December with a general release from the 28th. Catch Pagano on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud.

Simon Arblaster
Video Producer & Reviews Editor

I take care of the reviews on MusicRadar and Future Music magazine, though can sometimes be spotted in front of a camera talking little sense in the presence of real musicians. For the past 30 years, I have been unable to decide on which instrument to master, so haven't bothered. Currently, a lover of all things high-gain in the guitar stakes and never one to resist churning out sub-standard funky breaks, the likes of which you'll never hear.