i-DJ: back to life

As the NY-based party celebrates its first birthday party, founders DJ Khalil and Pauli the PSM assemble their closest friends and family for an hour-long mix.

by Lynette Nylander
10 October 2016, 11:05am

The sounds of the UK found itself a home away from home in the shape of Back to Life. The monthly club night was conceived by founders Pauli the PSM, DJ Khalil and Move Forward music to "bring a slice of London to NY", infusing the night's home, the Lower East Side's Louie and Chan, with the best in garage, grime, hip hop, r'n'b, broken beat, house, UK funky and soul. Within just a year, the night has attracted the likes of Moma, Kindness, Jasmine Solano, Clara Amfo behind the decks and has had surprised PAs from Kojey Radical, Donae'o and Lady Leshurr. The night is always packed to the rafters and has always managed to capture the enigmatic energy of a grimy British club night and transplant it to the US.

In the wake of their first birthday party last Saturday, for this very special i-DJ, Khalil and Pauli tell us about the most memorable Back to Life, his favourite party anthem and how US and UK dance floors differ. For the mix, Back to Life has gone back to basics, enlisting some of its closest friends and family to come together. DJ and hip hop legend Just Blaze joins Adam Bainbridge aka Kindness, DJ Moma, Jasmine Solano and Khalil to take us on a vibes-filled 60 minute journey that'll leave you ready to party all night. Enjoy!

How do US and UK dance floors differ?
KHALIL: There's a lot of similarities, and it really depends on what event you're playing, but what I really enjoy in NY is that there's more of a space and scene for people in their 30s and beyond to go out and party. It's a different energy to a lot of London's nightlife. Less jumping around and more dancing and vibing with the music. Plus most clubs are 21+ in the US which also makes a difference.

PAULI: UK dance floors are more grimy. You can wear your good trainers out to a club in NY and more often than not, you can leave the rave with them still looking pretty fresh.

What has been the most memorable Back to Life so far?
KHALIL: The first one was pretty mind blowing. We packed the venue and had queues all night from before midnight. It's been a crazy year to be honest, so many moments have felt pretty surreal. I think having Daniel Beddingfield partying with us and then jumping on the mic to perform Gotta Get Thru This was a beautiful moment. Having Idris Elba come through to DJ on the same night as Just Blaze was pretty memorable. I just love how it's turned into a bit of a community and how everyone who's in town from London passes through and parties with us!

What do you have planned for next year for Back to life?
KHALIL: There's a few ideas we're working on. Hoping to take the party to a few other cities in the coming months, Toronto is one we'd like to do. I've never been but heard so many great things about the city, so hopefully we'll make that happen.

PAULI: Touring the party across North America and bringing it back to the UK.

What are the top three tracks getting heavy rotation in your sets at the minute?
KHALIL: Roy Davis Jr's Gabriel has been back in rotation and the perfect track for all the rooftop gigs over the summer. Shakka's I Love The Way has also been in heavy rotation during the last weeks of sun, not really sure what I'm going to play now that summer is well and truly done though. Half of the Kaytranada album is still getting a lot of plays.

PAULI: Donae'o's Party Hard dub plate, I DON'T CARE Toy Selectah remix (I always unashamedly manage to drop my track in a set) and Lil Silva's remix of Alicia Keys' In Common.

What's the most hedonistic party you've ever been to?
KHALIL: Probably one of Finnian's (Silk 86) parties a few years back, not that I ever stuck around long, but they had a very intimate hedonistic house music vibe going on.

PAULI: What happens in Berghain, stays in Berghain!

What's the most phenomenal clubbing venue in the world and why?
KHALIL: Berghain has to be up there, love the big industrial feel and the sound system is amazing. But then the maze that was Fabric was a such an incredible experience when I first went there, you'd just get lost in it felt like another world! But as long as the sound is good and the venue has a vibe, the best experiences usually come down to who I am with and what the music is.

PAULI: Plastic People... RIP.

If you could go back to back with any DJ, at any venue, who would it be and why?
KHALIL: I love the way J Rocc and Theo Parrish plays. They both seem to be so consumed and intertwined with the music they're playing.

PAULI: Wee Pow of Stone Love Movement.Imagine playing dub through one of his legendary sound systems!

Finish the sentence, the music sounds better with...
KHALIL: A walk and skank.

PAULI: A function one sound system.


Text Lynette Nylander
Image via backtolifeparty.com

music news
DJ Khalil
Back To Life