Colin McDowell is an impeccable authority on all aspects of…
If you happen to have gone clubbing in Sydney at any time during the ‘90s, it’s likely you’d have danced to the tunes of Paul Goodyear. His classic disco sets are a legend the world over, due to his meticulous mixing and his unique re-edits of vintage tracks.
A perfectionist wizard in the studio, his musical catalogue is the envy of DJs from Milan to Miami. His infamous DJ sets at Arq in Sydney drew such a cult crowd that clubbers took to wearing seen t-shirts bearing the slogan “God is a DJ and his name is Paul Goodyear”.
What would you play in you epic sets at Arq and why were they so long?
My sets at Arq consisted of a musical journey that spanned anywhere from 10 to 15 hours every Saturday night for over five years. We wanted to take our crowd through all the different genres of dance and for them to experience the incredible lighting we had there too. Musically, I would play everything from progressive, funky, vocal house, tribal, trance, disco, some rock and morning music.
It was wonderful to see the crowd embrace the different styles and still be there- sometimes at 2pm on a Sunday afternoon. It would be a regular Saturday night for many Sydney goers and I saw tons of funny stuff and also lots of people over doing it too! What a trip it was.
How did you end up working on the gay scene?
I went to my first gay club at the age of 15. From that moment, it’s the place I knew where I wanted to DJ and call my home. The gay scene always had the best crowds and the best music. Back then, it was everything from new wave, funk, hi-nrg and rock (and later House).
I was a bedroom DJ at the time, practicing on shit decks with no pitch control. When I was seventeen, I decided to give out demo DJ tapes and within a week I’d landed my first gig. Twenty three years later, I’m still here and as passionate about it as I was then!
Do you get tired of men hitting on you or people assuming you’re gay?
Not at all! It’s a total compliment. As far as my wife and I are concerned I’m a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body! My whole life has revolved around the gay scene and it is where I feel most comfortable.
Why do you love disco so much?
Disco is so much more than boom, boom, boom. Disco music can be everything from sexy, smooth, romantic, and uplifting to dark and hypnotic. It encompassed so many great producers and artists. But there was also some really bad disco which is why it crashed and burned in 1979.
It simply just changed its name to dance music and still lives on in everything that we hear today. My remixes and productions always contain disco influences. Recently, a dream has come true for me as now I am working with disco legend Rick Gianatos.
Rick has done production with the likes of Shalamar, The Gap Band and Edwin Starr and was one the very first remixers on the disco scene. He paved the way for legends such Jellybean and Shep Pettibone.
Why did you leave Australia?
I left because I felt that I had achieved everything I could in the 21 years that I DJd there. I played all the big clubs and parties and felt that I needed to keep moving forward with DJing and my remixing and production. Living over here, I’m getting to remix great artists like Kristine W and Linda Clifford, this would never have happened in Sydney.
What’s the secret to surviving so long in the business?
Never losing your passion for the music! It can be very tough with so much competition these days as everyone wants to be a DJ. My wife Wilma and my friends help keep me sane and are the most important things in my life.
In the past year, what has been your most memorable gig and why?
Sydney’s Mardi Gras’ 30th Anniversary would be the most memorable in the last year. I played the last spot which has always been considered the most prestigious. I’ve been going to Mardi Gras pretty much from its very early days and have played at numerous Mardi Gras parties over the years and have seen many changes.
We lost lots of great creative people due to the HIV crisis and it’s wonderful to see the celebration of the parade and party survive this. I feel like I was a big part of Sydney’s gay life and to be asked to do the 30th was the ultimate high for me.