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DJ/Remixer: Interview with Chris "The Greek" Panaghi

Winter 2005

[Editor's Note: Besides being an accomplished DJ, Chris "The Greek" Panaghi is one of the world's top remixers. He has remixed music for Yoko Ono, Michael Jackson, Celine Dion, Jessica Simpson, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Jon Secada, Marc Anthony, Aqua, and many more. In addition, he works as a mix-show DJ on radio stations throughout the world, charts tracks for Billboard Magazine, works as a GM for the Liquid Music record label, and spins at some of New York City's hottest nightclubs.]

Disc Jockey 101: How did you get involved with remix work?
 
Chris Panaghi: I started out as a club and mobile DJ on Long Island. After playing and enjoying some of the records for many years, I had the itch to create music and get involved with music production and remixing. I felt it was a natural progression to get to the next level in my career.

Disc Jockey 101: Which do you prefer the most:  DJ (for a live-audience), producer, remixer, or radio mix-show jock?
 
Chris Panaghi: While I really enjoy DJ'ing as a whole, I like mixing radio mixshows because I thrive on people calling-in and responding to the tunes that I play and put on the airwaves. I think listener feedback is so key to becoming a better DJ; being able to connect with listeners and have them groove to your music and mixes is such a great feeling.

Disc Jockey 101: What are some of the New York area clubs that you've worked at?  What do you like the most about spinning in New York?
 
Chris Panaghi: Wow, I worked at so many clubs in the New York Tri-State area that it can be hard to pick just a couple. I really enjoyed working at Crobar, Exit, Metro 700, DNA, Malibu, and Zachary's. They were a lot of fun. New York is such a unique market and by far the best place in the world to play. I like the interaction with different people and the overall vibe about New York.

Disc Jockey 101: You recently completed a remix for Yoko Ono of John Lennon's legendary song Give Peace A Chance, which was originally recorded in 1969.  Is it more difficult to remix a track that was produced so long ago (i.e., audio fidelity)?  If so, why? 
 
Chris Panaghi: Well, it was an absolute pleasure to work on this project. It's always a bit harder to remix a piece of work from that era due to synch and timing issues -- but hey, it's all in a day's work. I was really honored to do the remix and felt that since the original was so unbelievable, I wanted to bring it to a new era and give it more of a European uptempo-trancey vibe that would make dancefloors scream.

Disc Jockey 101: Greek vocalist Helena Paparizou's hit My Number One won the Eurovision 2005 Song Contest.  You put the finishing touches on this track.  Do you believe that because DJ's accumulate experience working a live-audience -- as well as remixing -- that they could help musicians to become more successful?  If so, do you feel that your input as a DJ/remixer contributed to the success of My Number One?
 
Chris Panaghi: This is another good example of a great song that translated into a monster-hit all over Europe and beyond. My Number One winning the eurovision contest is a big honor for the Greek community and I'm very proud of her and her team. I am truly blessed to have been asked to be a part of the project. I wanted to bring the song into a more club and dance/radio friendly vibe. I felt that since the song is very catchy that it just needed a bit more edge to work on dancefloors. I think that a DJ's ears trained from playing on different dancefloors can be the most beneficial side to making dance music.

Disc Jockey 101: Are there differences between remixing for an American audience versus a European audience?  If so, what are those differences?

Chris Panaghi: Well, of course styles are different, which affects the direction to take a production. When I really want to impact the European market, I know that I have to keep that [European] frame of mind and vision clear so that I don't make something very "US" sounding. The US just seems to have its own sound that does not translate very well to the European market.

Disc Jockey 101: A Disc Jockey 101 reader recently wrote to ask about a home studio that he's building. Because he wants to become a music producer, he wants to know the type of equipment that he should purchase. What are your suggestions?
 
Chris Panaghi: That's a tough question. When I started, I was editing on reel-to-reel's and sequencing on Voyetra Sequencer Plus Gold. Now I use Cubase exclusively and really enjoy it. I have a whole arsenal of keyboards, drum machines, and plugin's -- but I still mix on a vintage analogue console. Nowadays, it can be much easier to just have a kick-ass PC with great plugin's and mix everything virtual. I think that there are some great plug-in's and software that really sound good. The Spectrasonics product is really cool. Steinberg and Sonic Foundry/Sony make great products. I think, all-in-all, I see the new age of making music being very virtual and software based.

Disc Jockey 101:  What additional advice do you have for new DJ's that want to get involved with remix or music production work?
 
Chris Panaghi: Follow your heart and be true to what you believe in. It's easy to get sidetracked or to become lazy. I came to where I am today because of hard work and dedication. Most of the battle is just showing-up and doing the right thing. Stay true to yourself and work hard. The right people will notice.

Disc Jockey 101: To what extent do remixers collaborate with one another?  Is remixing more or less competitive than live-performance DJ work?
 
Chris Panaghi: Well, in today's day and age it's very competitive. There are more-and-more remixers out there and I think it's great. We need some new blood in the game. I like collaborating with other producers and remixers; but it can be very hard due to hectic work loads and schedules.

Disc Jockey 101: In your opinion, what is a median income for a person that only does remix work?  Is there more money in remixing hip hop?
 
Chris Panaghi: Income levels are very different due to the level in which your career can grow as a producer and remixer. Given the radio support with hip hop, I definitely think it might be easier; but my focus has and will always be on dance music. I have been a steady producer/remixer for the last thirteen [13] years and love what I do. I can't wait to start a new day and create my music. What's better in life than doing what you love as a career?

Disc Jockey 101: What are your future plans?
 
Chris Panaghi: I'm currently A&R Manager and GM of
Liquid Music, Inc., which is an indie dance label located in New York. I am always looking for new talent and remixers so send me your work. Liquid is doing very well and has a great stable of artists. I will continue to keep DJ'ing various guest spots in clubs all over the world, as well as my mixshows. I am very dedicated to my career and always strive to reach my goals and dreams.

To learn more about Chris "The Greek" Panaghi, please see
www.djgproductions.com
 
To get more information about Liquid Music, Inc., please see
www.liquidmusicinc.com


Industry News

* Winter Music Conference (WMC) will be held at the Wyndham Resort on March 24-28, 2006 in Miami Beach, Florida. Early registration ends on December 7, 2005 ($195); while year-end registration ends January 6, 2006 ($235). Late registration ends March 8, 2006 ($335). WMC draws music professionals and enthusiasts from around the world, and includes educational events such as remixing and editing workshops. To contact by phone, call 954-563-4444.

* A new venue called the Goya Club is bringing upscale glam to Berlin clubbers. Most noteworthy: the club's innovative funding strategy (2,000 investors at 4,000 euros per share) could have a positive influence (as a business model) in other markets. See Deutsche Welle.

* While music has been proven to be therapeutic to a person's health, a new study reveals that long-term exposure to noise seems to have the opposite effect (increasing heart attack risk). See CBS News.com

* Special thanks to Jason Hart for finding a website that shows how to build a (do-it-yourself) low-cost record cleaner with inexpensive/used turntables. See DIY Record Cleaner

* The Mobile Beat DJ Convention will take place February 21-23, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The event includes exhibits, demos, workshops, seminars, discussions, and networking opportunities. All events are held at the Stardust Hotel and Casino. To register by phone, contact 585-385-9920.

* Stacy Zemon has authored a new book called The DJ Sales and Marketing Handbook. Designed to supplement her bestseller The Mobile DJ Handbook, 2nd Ed., Zemon's new book should help mobile DJ's to expand their business by tapping into her vast experience as "one of the most successful women in the DJ profession."

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