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NAIDOC Week With DJ PGZ: What It Means to Be a Blak Artist in Electronic Music

“There’s not much techno in our communities… When you see other mob doing it, it becomes achievable…”

NAIDOC Week With DJ PGZ: What It Means to Be a Blak Artist in Electronic Music


With the recent achievement of the first-year anniversary of the release of his two-track vinyl EP The Dance/Hypnotic Suburbs with local label Butter Sessions Records (BSR) (Sleep D, Jenifer Loveless, Guy Contact etc.), DJ PGZ can be found prepping for a flight directly to London. He’s ready to take time out, party across Europe, and grow his passion for global sound solidarities along the way.

Paul Gorrie aka DJ PGZ is a Gunai/Kurnai & Yorta Yorta artist, producer, radio presenter (Good Static on Triple R) and Naarm-based DJ generally mixing within techno and EDM genres.

A past drummer for two diverse First Nations creatives, DRMNGNOW & Kee’ahn, the multi-talented ex-Indie band mate is passionate about education and expanding Blak thought through community capacity building. He’s even dipped into filmmaking (Young Mob Questioning Treaty) and been a co-curator of the BLK ICE event series. 

“There’s not much techno in our communities… When you see other mob doing it, it becomes achievable…”

With this week also marking Blak Xmas aka NAIDOC Week, it’s compelling to hear DJ PGZ yarn about his journey into this space and the influences he had as a youngin, particularly growing up in Bundaberg, Queensland around a family of talented artists and musicians.

With an early comprehension of country, hip hop, Ja Rule (before Fyre Fest), and indie folk music, it was through free local community events where he had the opportunity to witness mob perform in public for more diverse audiences and be exposed to other genres.

“I was really into beat culture… It was a whole other world before I got into techno. It was appealing because of how accessible it was. Like if you have access to a laptop you can pretty much show up anywhere and play.”

DJ PGZ reminiscences on making a day out of NAIDOC family events, getting on the train in the early morning with his siblings to grab a show-bag or two (or ten) and picking up a filming camera to have a go at recording an uncle’s debut stage performance. All times contributed to his appreciation for opening up safe Blak space – for dance, for joy, and community organising.

“For the longest time we weren’t allowed to have these spaces, or if we did we had to do it in secret… To push different cultures forward, in terms of pop culture or artistic culture, things like these events can really comment on the seriousness of certain situations out there. It’s a response to what we have to deal with outside the club…”

When yarning about his influences, DJ PGZ says while there weren’t too many First Nations DJ’s that he was exposed to as a young person coming up, he was inspired by local people from other global Indigenous cultures… 

“I use to turn up to gigs with my records and watch DJs at local bars… people like DJ Mz Rizk, a Lebanese and queer DJ, radio host and producer based out of Melbourne, has really inspired me of how she sees the world and her knowledge of music…” 

Last month, DJ PGZ co-organised the first of the new ‘Black Mass’ club nights alongside Naarm local Ihab Balla for RISING – Melbourne’s winter art and music festival. These collaborative events especially focused on opportunities for First Nations mob and people of the African diaspora to connect and have somewhere fun to kick back and build solidarity together. Artists included Toronto-based DJ and producer Bambii, and Yugger producer, radio host and DJ dameeeela.

In fact, already across the first half of 2023 DJ PGZ has also played his first Boiler Room x Sugar Mountain set, with dameeeela being the first-ever Blak DJ to play – also opening up space for other First Nations Women like Gunai/Kurnai, Yorta Yorta and Wiradjuri DJ and fashion designer Soju Gang.

And just recently, DJ PGZ returned from a tour across the continent, playing ONE22 on Ngunnawal & Ngambri Countries/Canberra all the way to GarbageTV on Boorloo/Perth.

“It’s cool to see mob at [techno] gigs like this today… back in the days when I was younger I didn’t know the history behind it and the significance it had to Queer struggles or Black struggles, especially in places like Turtle Island.”

By now he’s accustomed to international travel, playing sets in New York and performing at ImagineNative in Toronto, Turtle Island in 2019. Nonetheless you can hear the excitement in DJ PGZ voice as he froths over embarking on this well-deserved Euro trip. Traveling from London to Portugal, he’ll be making a stop off in Berlin as he debuts at OHM Nightclub, who are hosting a BSR Label Night on Thursday, July 13th alongside RBI, Sleep D and Berlin local Yuzo Iwata.

On top of all that, DJ PGZ tells us he has some pretty serious releases and event news coming out over the next six-months, one in particular relating to a collaboration with a label in Germany. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye out. 

As someone who made his start as many of us have, with a track-loaded USB in hand, he’s come a bloody long way… and he’s only going further.