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Tags:   Music,   DJs,   Career

By The Swag Team   -  November 13, 2014

TONIO PACE, a.k.a. ‘Mozzer’ is 46 years old, and has been a familiar face and voice on the Indie music scene since his first days singing for a band in the late '80s. He tells SWAG about living a double life as a Facility Manager and DJ.

Why did you get into music, DJing and radio?


I have always loved music going back to the mid '70s, which is the earliest I can remember. The first songs I remember came from my older brother who was at the time deeply into Joe Cocker, Gary Glitter and Queen together with other heavy stuff, while my older sister was more focused into Motown from Diana Ross, Captain and Tenille to George Benson. My first love was for the electronic sounds pf the time, from Giorgio Moroder’s From Here to Eternity to Kraftwerk’s We Are the Robots. I started DJing around the age of 16, because the love I had for what was known as the New Romantic movement at the time made me want its new sounds to be heard more. Although some say it was all about costumes, make-up and hair, this movement involved talented, experimental, electronic groups mainly from the UK that produced great songs which were shaped to discotheques as twelve inches (12”). I got into radio to be the next John Peel whom I listened to on BBC World Service at the time, I just wanted the music I loved well-presented and heard.



Who are your favourite artists and why?


The list is vast since I like bands and artists from the time when the Punk movement was still around to today’s bands which also share the same influences. Obviously my number one all time band is The Smiths, as you can tell from my nickname (Mozzer is what people call the artist Morrissey - Ed) who I followed since their kick off into the Indie scene in 1983 (Indie has been since my favourite music genre), Joy Division, Echo & the Bunnymen, The Cure, Blur, The Wedding Present, Radiohead, and more.   In these bands I like most of all the way their music is produced, the rawness which I do not find so common in other bands or genres and the way such bands approach themselves to music itself.     



Tell us about your shows and the station you're on.


I joined All Rock a DAB+ radio station in 2011 to present an Indie/Alternative radio show called Reverb where I mainly revive bands which were predominant in my time and which these do not find their space to hit the airwaves. At the same time I nourish my listeners with the modern Indie/Alternative artists and songs which I know go down well. I also look out for local artists to let their music be heard since I know how difficult it is for Maltese bands, who work so much to create a professional product, to get the publicity they rightly deserve. I, who myself played in a band (called FridayPM), know what I mean when it comes to local radio stations especially when their music is not mainstream enough! I feel so proud to have joined All Rock which has a proficient mind-set which makes me stand beside other rock deejays, colleagues of great calibre.    


You've been on air before though haven't you?


Yes in the early '90s I was on Smash Radio and at the same time I also performed production work for a few community radios. Smash Radio was more commercially oriented and was the most best ranked at the time. Although I enjoyed the interaction with the listeners at the same time I felt that I stood totally in the wrong place. At that time nothing was able to rescue me to hit the airwaves with the kind of music I followed since the late '70s, therefore I experimented in clubs with the Indie/Alternative genres, which thanks to such experience I do what I do now with All Rock.


Which clubs do you play at?


After a few years I spent in hiatus, I kicked off by organising '80s nights amongst friends and colleagues from work, where music was well sieved and made sure I played the right music in various clubs, together with other private events that followed. Since the '80s New Wave scene is still my favourite at heart, with bands such as The Human League, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, John Foxx, Gary Numan  and so on, I presently DJ at the Molecule and the Groove Gardens in Gianpula for Reflex Promotions. Apart from the '80s scene I DJed for Nuwavemalta and other organisations, playing tunes mainly from the Indie, Alternative and Post Punk genres.


 Do you have a job apart from music?


I am presently a Facility Manager with CareMalta.


Do you find a conflict between your day job and your radio/DJ jobs?


No, not really since both do not intertwine with one another. It’s funny at times though because a few of my colleagues and students from work find it hard to believe that when the lights go out I turn into a DJ…  


How big is the market for your kind of music?


I wouldn’t say that the market is big although it is getting bigger. I appreciate nowadays that finally, what I strived back in my years for the Indie scene to be known and appreciated locally, nowadays I am privileged that I do get attendees from a very young age (although obviously still legal to get into the clubs!). I also get very good and encouraging feedback from my radio sessions.  


What have been your best and worst moments on radio so far?


The best on the radio is when I do manage to play an awesome set which makes me appreciate the glory of great alternative music, and also when I discover good bands which I would be looking forward to having my listeners relish. I also consider as best is that radios I have worked on I never came across any pre-arranged playlists from radio bosses, therefore I strictly play my own music selection, and which I do with commitment.


The worst was when I presented on a commercial radio station and for the umpteenth time I was asked to play What is Love by Haddaway, a song which was being constantly played at the time and which made me puke straight from the first verses. The other is when I played Lithium by Nirvana as a new song that had just peaked in the UK charts, (also at a time where there was a cult following locally and Nirvana were rife enough in the Grunge music business then), and the director stormed into the studio telling me not to play that song or any other ‘heavy metal’ songs on his radio! Incredible!


And in the clubs?


The best thing that happened to me is when Reflex Promotions brought Marc Almond, of Soft Cell, once in 2007 and again in 2014, the original singer of Tainted Love, Bedsitter and Torch, to  Malta. He was one of my first idols from a young age and he was all over my walls in my bedroom. I got the chance to meet him personally backstage on both occasions right before my DJ set after he performed on the night.


The worst moments are when I play the '80s New Wave parties and I get people coming to the DJ booth with banal requests for Abba, Sir Cliff, Led Zepplin or even Eurovision song titles!!


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