Barbie Bertisch & Paul Raffaele are the designers, DJs, and founders of the New York City based dance music fanzine Love Injection. Although every episode I make for this podcast is special because I get to meet some of my creative heroes, this episode has a special place in my heart. Not only was Paul someone I learned a lot from while I was an intern but Paul and Barbie were part of the reason why I started this podcast in the first place. To watch how they were able to create Love Injection and continue to grow the community in the New York area is something that I truly admire. I am so happy to have them as guests for this season and can't wait to see what they come up with next for Love Injection.
You can support Wellfed by becoming a member of our patreon community here.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:00] On this episode. I'm excited to welcome two individuals that have been a huge inspiration to me over the years. They are the DJ duo and founders of the New York based dance music fanzine Love Injection. Barbie Bertisch and Paul Raffaele, thank you so much for joining me this morning.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:00:14] Thanks for having us.
Paul Raffaele: [00:00:16] Pleasure to be here.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:00:18] Um. It's super exciting to have you on this season. Have you as guests. I think, you know, since Love Injection has launched, it's been really exciting for me as a designer to watch this thing grow and become what I think is very influential to the New York dance scene. Um. But as you know, it is definitely a lever of a labor of love and not something that, you know, you kind of both just started since you were born.
I'd love to kind of get a little bit of background about, you know, from each of you. So Barbie, you were born and raised in Buenos Aires.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:00:52] Yeah, I was, um, I was born and raised in Argentina in Buenos Aires specifically, um. I, my family and I moved to the US when I was 14. Um, we were kind of escaping a really huge crisis that happened there around the late nineties and culminating in year 2000.
So in 2002, um, we packed our bags and went to Miami, um, which is at the time where a lot of people from South America were. You know, sort of setting camp at a lot of people from Venezuela, Colombia, Argentina, you name it. Um, it was a really, I remember the first day of school, there was like 15 new kids starting, and like three of them were from Argentina, two of them from Venezuela.
It was just like a hodgepodge of Latin Americans going to Miami. Um, so I did high school or most of high school in Miami. Um, I then decided to study fashion design in Miami for better or worse. And it was also in Miami where I started going out to clubs. And I'd always been around music, loved music. You know, I would do all the choreograph dances of the nineties videos on the, you know,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:06] MTV.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:02:07] There was like the box in Argentina, which was this on demand video service that I used to watch a lot. Um, and so, yeah, I started going out to clubs in Miami. Um. Quite a bit.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:02:19] Um, What kind of gave you the idea or like, I remember my first time going to a club, it was like I had listened to music before that, you know, what, what kind of gave you the excitement or the idea to like, Hey, let me try this out.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:02:32] Well, I actually remembered not long ago that my first club was actually in Buenos Aires, which was a matinee, cause I must've been like 12 years old or 13. Um, but I don't know. I think that. It was, I know that it was around 10th, 11th grade when I went to my first club. Um, I had a really terrible fake ID.
Like I'm honestly surprised that anybody let me get anywhere cause I also looked like a baby. Um, but I would go to these parties with some high school friends and they were a little bit older, I think though a years, so, and they were into all of these parties where. You know, dating the era of 2005 through 2007 was the era of like DFA, and you know, The Rapture, and The Strokes, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Franz Ferdinand.
And when you think about this really, really small subsector of Miami nightlife that was into this stuff. There was like 20 of them. I mean, that's 20, but it was rather a small scene. Um, so I started going to these parties. Um, one of them was called revolver, the other one. Um, then I think it was pop life, and then there was this club called pawn shop that everybody used to talk about.
And, um, so yeah, I started going there and then as a little bit more passively at first, and then when I, my first year of college, I was out like Wednesday through Sunday, um, much to my parents' dismay. But, um, that's how it went. Um, I started. You know, going out to Vagabond when it opened, I was there like probably Friday and Saturday night.
The first like two, three years of its existence, Pop Life, moved different places. I would kind of follow the party around. I made a lot of my friends there. Um, and people that were schoolmates that also ended up going out at night. It was just kind of finding my people at night and that translated into the day because a lot of people I met at night first, and then I was like, Oh shit, we go to school together.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:04:48] You mentioned, you mentioned that you, um, that you went to school for fashion design. Why, what, what was that, why did you, why did you pick fashion design? How did you land on that?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:04:59] Um, that's a great question. Um, so I did a year at FIU, Florida International University before transferring. I think when I was going to FIU, I was leaning more towards creative writing.
Um, I also am the first person in my family to go to college, um, or sort of higher education. I. Did a trip to Europe, um, as a backpacker when I was like 17, turning 18. And I think I became enamored with like European fashion when I was doing that. And I came back to Miami and I was like, this is what I want to do.
And I had a great aunt who passed away now, but she lived up here actually at Fort Lee, New Jersey, and she would come down to Miami sometimes to visit. And she's the one that said, you should move to New York if you want to study fashion design. And I actually came up here with a friend both to check out Parsons and FIT.
And I was just terrified because I had only moved to the US four years ago. And in Argentina, you don't move away far from your family, you know, you just live in when a site is like three blocks away from my parents, or it's just at the time, it was just something that seems super terrifying, but I truly, truly loved fashion, and that's what set my eyes in New York because it was the music and the fashion and the intersection of that that I was super curious about.
Um. And probably if I would have known better, I would have moved to New York earlier and done school here. Um, but when I moved up here, the fashion industry, like hugely disappointed me. Um, it was the era of just rampant, like taking advantage of interns and, um, yeah, it just, the people that I worked with, I was not in love with the way that things were run.
Um, it just really put me off and I think that. Also learning a little bit more about the industry. New York specifically is more centered around like mass market and you know, um, what we call like sportswear, which is everyday clothes. And I was more into like the European sort of great fashion houses.
So it's a little bit more high end related. And I just felt like it was something that I would never be able to like carve my space into. Um, so I kind of pivoted.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:24] When do you make way up to New York?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:07:27] I moved to New York as soon as I've finished finished college. So I graduated, um, my BFA of fashion design and I left and got here on February 11th, 2004.
We were 12. February, 2011. Um, it was just that after I blizzard and I have not left. This is my home now.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:51] Paul you've been over there patiently. Uh, waiting.
Paul Raffaele: [00:07:55] I've learned so much about you in this last couple of minutes. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:07:59] Well, you grew up in, in good old Staten Island.
Paul Raffaele: [00:08:02] I did.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:08:03] You're from the area. Strong Island is what I've come to learn about it.
Um, what we're, you know, Paul, we've known each other for a while now, but I know very little about you before I met you at the nightclub, you know, what was it like growing up in Staten Island and what were you seeking out as a child?
Paul Raffaele: [00:08:23] I had a great childhood. I, um, just really well supported and come from a very traditional, like family structure in the suburbs.
And, um, I think as a child, like I was really into sports. I did a hockey for a number of years. I was really into that. And, um, when I started high school, I was running track a little bit. Like I was just trying to get my feet and try, try different things. And then, yeah. I started like hanging out and smoking cigarettes and smoking, and then sports kind of went out the window.
And then, um, you know, in Staten Island when you'd go to these barbershops, you'd find these mixed tapes, um, on the counter. And they were kind of like named after big New York nightclubs at the time. And there were bootlegs. Um, they were made by local DJs, but they were kind of emulating the music that were coming out of these big clubs in Manhattan.
So I got my hands on a couple of those and the rest is kind of history. I was just like, my mind was making up the rest of it. You know, I was listening to one thing and my mind was making up the rest of it. I'm like, what are these clubs like? What are they, you know, uh, what's it like to be in a place that plays this music really loud?
And I just kinda got enamored with that and found a community online. Um. At the time vBulletin message boards are really popular. So there were just a ton of them and you kind of dig around and you know, you found, I found like an online community. I think first. Um, that made me feel like I had an, um, a musical, my first musical community.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:09:53] I actually found a photo of you dancing with Dennis Ferrer in the background and young Martinez Brothers at PS1 and I don't think anything has changed since, since that photo. Really
Paul Raffaele: [00:10:06] Not a lot has changed.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:10:07] Um, you eventually, like you start learning to DJ as a kid through a family member that was deejaying weddings and bar mitzvahs and things like that.
What are you deejaying? What's that experience like.
Paul Raffaele: [00:10:20] Yeah. Um, you're right. That was probably my first experience deejaying and my, my father's friend who I later learned that my dad used to DJ like weddings and like house parties with this guy that's got John, Ceatola back in the day and my dad didn't really, kinda, my dad stopped that eventually kind of, uh, went into construction, start his own, uh, construction business.
But, but John kept on for a number of years and when my dad told him that I was interested in deejaying. Um, and dance music. He invited me to come along to do some mobile gigs with him, so I would do weddings, bar mitzvahs and stuff like that. And John really showed me the ropes, like he, um. He took me out, there was no overhead.
He would just like allow me to be sort of a, you know, air quote partner in this little business. And I was just coming and I was doing most of the deejaying and he was doing most of the emceeing and he, at that time it was, there was no laptops or or, or Spotify. So there was a finite amount of music you
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:19] You were carrying the records.
Paul Raffaele: [00:11:21] It was, well CDs mostly at that time. Um, so you had these promo, like binders of CDs with like every, you know, with, with that covered a lot of ground and you learned about music. And like, there are some records that I, uh, play today that I still hear out that I associated with John.
Cause, um you know Candy Staton and LAX, and these are just like, um, undeniable hits, um, in his day. Yeah.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:11:46] How do you, what's your introduction to like design? You eventually go to a school called the New York Institute of technology?
Paul Raffaele: [00:11:52] Yeah. Well, the, I was just telling someone this the other day, like the design and the music kind of came together.
Early for me because my first design gig was for this neighborhood guy whose brother had a mobile DJ company, and they did, it was called partners in sound productions. I think they still, they still exist. And, um,
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:14] Or someone in the neighborhood also now has that.
Paul Raffaele: [00:12:16] All the names. I'm throwing out just the biggest Guido names, Marco DeDonna.
And, um, yeah. And he, um. He needed flyers for his showcases cause they would do these kind of, they'd kind of rent out halls and then show off their services and invite people that are looking to have parties to come and see what they offer. So I would do these, um, these showcase flyers for Marco. I don't remember how Marco, like learned I knew how to design or was trying to, I was trying to learn how to design, but, um, I still have some of those early flyers.
Yeah. And I, and I just started there and kind of never stopped. And, um. That led to more stuff. Club flyers, um, record covers. Um. Mixed CDs, things like that. And
Jon Sorrentino: [00:12:59] You're in it. Yeah, it was in a year. It's just kind of straight down that paths from that, from that point overturn.
Paul Raffaele: [00:13:05] Yeah, basically. And when it came to like having to decide what I wanted to do and what kind of college I wanted to go to, there was no other, I think architecture was in my mind for a bit.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:15] The common thread, everyone's like, yeah, you know, people told me to be an architect.
Paul Raffaele: [00:13:19] Well, the thing was like, I loved art and design and my dad was a, um, a contractor, so I was like. I had this knowledge and this love for like tools and building and using your hands. So I, um, thought that that was going to be what I wanted to do, but then I realized I had to go to school longer and it was way more, the program was way more expensive and I was like, you know what?
Um, graphic design sounds right. I'd like to learn more. There web design was new and I was trying to get my. My hands dirty with that. And I thought I could learn a lot.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:13:53] You interned at a, at a music marketing company called the Giant Step, um, and then you make it to RPM marketing, the one and only,
um, how did you get your introduction there?
And, and, um, could you tell me a little bit about what you did before I met you?
Paul Raffaele: [00:14:10] Well, yeah, so I was really into these, these certain DJs, uh, Ron Trent and Gilles Peterson and Danny Krivit, and I know that they all played for Giant Step. So I would see that on like, um, promoted through the message boards I listened to and I was like, just turning 18.
So if I, if I saw them before that, it was probably me sneaking in or, or reading about it or listening back to mixes. So, um, my first internship, I just cold emailed someone from Giant Step records, which, uh, kind of a storied, uh revered party in New York that turned to a record label, um, that turned into a marketing company.
And I got that. Um, I got that gig and I spent a summer just kind of writing press releases and packing and shipping vinyl and learning about stuff. And, um, uh, Maurice Bernstein, still a friend to this day. And it's really funny how our our lives continue to kind of cross, um, Giant Step, still super well-respected there now.
Um, kind of like, I'm a boutique agency, uh, working on music related stuff. So I spent a summer doing that and money was not great. Um, I was getting paid just like a little stipend, but tra, uh, you know, commuting from Staten Island was tough and, um, so August of 2007, I just emailed Rob Fernandez.
Uh, RPM wasn't formed yet. It was just passion New York. Uh, they had opened in 2005 and they were still getting their feet. As a new, the newest mega club to the New York landscape, and I was super into club culture. So I was like, um, I was also already going to the club and I was just like, this could help my DJ career.
Like there's design coming out of this place. The posters are really cool. Like this could be a good place for me to try and get a job. And, um, Rob emailed out, cause I remember emailing him while I was at Giant Step, like, like in the middle of the day. And Rob emailed me right away and said, um, what are you doing tonight?
Can you come by? And I just did. And I met Andrew and Rob and Alania and yeah, yeah. All the characters.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:16:24] I eventually come to RPM as an intern, you know, I think like 2014 or something like that. Um, meet yourself and Vin at the time I had on last season and ended up learning so much about, uh, design and, and marketing.
And, and. The whole club scene in New York. Cause before that I had, I had only been listening to mixes and things like that from my dad. Around this time I think Barbie, you also begin to DJ yourself or teach, teach yourself how to DJ.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:16:53] Well, so I think if we're talking 2014 so after I decided to kind of pivot away from the fashion world, I began to, I did this internship.
Um, in a fashion magazine that later very quickly led into an internship at a tech company and at this fashion magazine spot, I met this girl who I used to go out to Glass Lens with and we started just going out to shows and stuff. So I was starting to get a footing into like, what was New York at night?
Um, up until then it had been very sporadic and I would like go to bars and things like that. Um, so. I pivot into tech and I'm just trying to basically start over in another industry, which was like really tough. But right around that same time is when I started going out a lot and starting to kind of see what's around, meet new people.
So. I somehow, I think it was a friend from Miami that invites me to this party, um, in Richwood that honestly, I had no idea what to expect because it wasn't like a, at a venue, a public venue is just a private party. Yeah. It was just somebody's loft. And it was a friend from Miami that invited me and I really trusted her, so I was like, I know she's not taking me to, you know, some sketchy spot.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:18:15] At least we'll both be in the same.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:18:17] Exactly. Um, and it was there. That I met a really, really amazing group of people. Um, and it was there that I feel, I kind of say sometimes I feel like I truly found home like my people in New York. Um, and it was the first time that I saw like records being played. You know, I had been going out for ever, but it was always like.
Laptops, CDJs which is cool. It's just more like I found something that really spoke to me and I would watch the guys DJ and they were really, really sweet. You know, it's, I never at any point during this time, at least not in my level of awareness that that moment was it like, you're a girl, you can't do this.
Um, but I came up to them and I was like, I would really like to learn how to do what you're doing. And so we would get together at my friend Francis, um, at his apartment, and he would be like, okay, well this is one record and this is another record and this is a two channel mixer and this is how you beat match.
And it started like that. And I just started buying records. And so I would say 2014 early, very, very early 2015 which is when Paul and I met, um, I had my first gig out at like a blaze, like a venue or whatever. Um. Up until then, I'd had just people here in my apartment, like just bring in records and sharing things and sharing music.
But it not only gave me the knowledge of what a DJ does, but it also, because it was such a tight knit community in such a great sort of warm group of inviting people, it also taught me a lot about just like who I wanted to be as part of a community. Um. And I'm so, I mean, I'm eternally grateful for, they're introduction to who I would learn or eventually become here in New York.
So, yeah. Um, I started deejaying, I would say out 2015. And one day in January, I'm at a record store and I meet this guy. Well
Jon Sorrentino: [00:20:37] Before we get there. Um, so you, you begin to kind of, as you mentioned, you found your people. You're starting to find this community. Um, you pivot from fashion and you're proactively like inviting friends over to, you know, host and have these parties where you can play music and practice.
Leading up to this first event that you're the first gig that you eventually get. How are you balancing like, you know, this passion for deejaying and what are you doing for work? You know, like you had mentioned that you're, you're, you've left fashion or you kind of left that behind a little bit. Um, what are you doing in this time?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:21:11] Right before going to tech, I was like bouncing around and doing like retail management and still trying to get to the internship game the first, um tech job I was like an office manager for a tech innovation company called makeup wall. It used to be Polk, uh, New York, and it had London offices too, is awesome group of people and Trey back Tribeca doing like great stuff.
Um, and also like I was teaching myself how to code at night and I was just, you know, I had my little like studio where I was just, I was single, I didn't have anybody to hang out with. And it's not like. I just was constantly teaching myself things. Um, what was that? There was like a, not coding theory that's an agency.
There was like a website that you could just kind of like.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:21:56] Open me or something like that.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:21:58] Yeah, yeah, exactly. Codeacademy yeah, yeah. That's it. So it's just like learning how to do that. Um, I'd always been interested in web stuff and I was like, I might as well just learn, you know, there's nothing, I'm not losing anything by trying.
So from Makeable, I got hired as my first account manager job, um, at a super respected digital agency called King & Partners. Um, which works a lot of. They used to be in Soho. I think they moved up to Bryant Park now, but they worked a lot with luxury fashion clients and they had their own eCommerce platform, so I was getting.
Very well acquainted with content management, obviously client relations, um, and also just backend, you know, like builds. Um, I was some sort of account manager, but also very well versed in like the product development that was going on in the eCom side of things. And he was, I mean, it was a total mind fuck to me.
It was just like, it was a crash course into the tech world and the agency world, which is also totally new for me. Like I didn't know how agencies operated. It was, you know, um, so I honestly learned so, so much working at King & Partners and then from King & Partners, I got hired to work remotely for a tech firm.
That it was based just outside of Boston and they were already going mobile products. So I kind of kept this like tech trajectory for a long time, but it was just around the time that I started at King & Partners that I was starting to take music more seriously. And while I was still super pumped about kingdom partners, like my later time there, I was like, there's something in the back of my mind that's telling me that you need to pay attention to what your true passion is.
Which was tough. Um, and I think it's really what inspired me to want to take this remote job because. It really allowed me to spread my wings a little bit more. And you know, if I have to wake up at nine to be awake in front of the computer at 9:15 then that means I can like stay out later and like play a gig the night before.
So things like that, it's just, it kind of, it became this thing of like a scale. Like on the left I have stability and security and day job and like a salary and a 401k. And on the other side I have just like the unknown possibilities of like creative and personal fulfillment. And eventually when I, Oh, wait the other, um, and that's kinda how we got here.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:24:33] Paul, are you, um, did you guys meet before you left, uh, RPM? Or was it after you left RPM?
Paul Raffaele: [00:24:41] It was after I left RPM. How did.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:24:44] Are you
Paul Raffaele: [00:24:45] gonna go for it? I was at Vice, I remember that.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:24:46] Gotcha. So, so I was interning. Um, I remember I had a, I had one job and then I was getting ready to leave and I had said, Hey, Paul, is there anything available at RPM?
Um, and it was sort of like a switch, you know, you were like, yeah, there's this thing coming up maybe. And then I came in as the graphic designer. You left as the designer for the last like seven, eight years, and you went over to Vice and you start there as an art director. Yeah. When do you guys meet? How does that, how does that kind of come to fruition?
Paul Raffaele: [00:25:18] Yeah, it was just, um, a chance meeting at a record store. Uh, it was late. Um, I was still living in hell's kitchen, so it was kind of a rare for me to be in Greenpoint alone at like 8:00PM near closing time of this record store. I don't know why I was there, but, um, and I was in the record store was empty and.
I heard these like two female voices, like from the distance at the door, and I just kind of looked up and. Eventually they kind of made their way to the same section that I was in the disco twelves and I was like, this is, you know, I didn't think anything of it at the, at that split second. But then I looked up and I noticed Barbie and I, we have some mutual friends and I saw her like on, um, I saw her photo.
If a friend posted a, a good friend of mine, positive photo of her in a group, um, like recently, cause this was, um, just after new year's, so it must've been like a Christmas, like a holiday gathering. And I was like, Oh, you're, you're Barbie. Like, you know, I think we have some mutual friends and I was first person to reach out to talk and, um, yeah.
And so you just like said hello. It was just a, a quick exchange. And then, um. Oh, at that time I was still was, was I working on, uh, issue number one?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:26:35] Like I think you were just starting to, you reached out to me on Facebook and you said, Oh, I have this thing that I'm starting if you want to contribute to it.
And that's kind of,
Paul Raffaele: [00:26:45] Yeah. I immediately followed it up and I knew she was part of the loft and the joy family. Joy's the part of that she was talking about earlier from in Ridgewood. And, um, I was super curious about. About those folks. Um, the party that, I hang around, uh, still to this day at, it's called seven one eight sessions is super formative party for me.
And that was my scene. And Barbie comes from the loft and the joy scene, which are, they have a lot in common, but they're just a little separate. And, um, I was super curious about those folks and what was going on there and asked her to contribute like a, a column about. About that scene. And that was a way for me to just reach out to her and talk to her.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:27:28] I was gonna say, Barbie is this your? What's, what's your side of the story? What are you thinking at this time?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:27:35] I mean, I think that's totally accurate. I mean, we met her record shop. It was by chance he had just come back from like a family vacation and I'm pretty sure you had been like stalking my Instagram. But, um, or so he says, but, um. I really was, it was a chance encounter.
Um, he offered to work on this thing that became Love Injection. And, and it was that first gig I had, it was, um, the old battery harris, and I was like, Hey, you know, I have a date reserved for like a party if I want to do something here. And it would be my first time deejaying out. You need to have a release party for this thing that you're doing, why don't you do it here?
And so my first DJ night out became the first Love Injection release party. Um, and it was us and two of our friends that also were part of my joy loft circle, which is Thomas Hall and Ryan Connemara. And yeah, it's kind of like the rest is history. Like there was no. I, I think I would have to say that like I fought very hard against like getting into a relationship because I really loved what we were doing with Love Injection and I wanted to keep it clean.
Um, but it was also this just thing that became so intertwined that, you know, our lives, it became very evident that our lives and our creative pursuits and like our love for each other were kind of, be super intertwined. Um, so it's been five years.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:29:19] Paul, you had mentioned before that you had been hanging out with like the seven one eight sessions, parties and things like that, and Barbie realizing that your paths were essentially just going to overlap and continue to grow like that.
It's crazy because all of the people that you've had involved in Love Injection now have been people that I've grown up with, my dad telling me, you know, like these iconic dance music, like legends, you know, Danny K, Fran or Francoise, uh, K, Danny Krivit. Um. There's just so many people in there. Um, what did you have in mind when you started this thing?
Paul Raffaele: [00:29:53] Um, so the first point of inspiration was the Red Bull Music Academy had come to town, maybe, I think it was maybe the second year that it had been in New York. And they did this, uh, daily publication called the daily note, and it was a printed broadsheet like newspaper, um, 20 pages. And it was like a really nice mixture of, uh, legacy.
Labels and artists and you know, New York, uh, personalities mixed with like my friends and like up and coming DJs. And there's this, at that point I felt like there was this, there were these gatekeepers that decided who got press coverage in the scene that I was kind of living in the soulful scene in the classic dance music scene.
Got no love. In dance music press, um, still gets very little. Um, because it's so, it's so local and there are other reasons. But, um, that was the first publication I saw, like kind of celebrating that stuff. And I was like, this is really inspiring. So I, I, I collected as many copies as I could, cause they were, they spent a lot of money making sure that a lot of people got them, you know, and, um, it left town, the festival left town.
And the magazine stopped and I was like, damn, this is a bummer. Like I really wanted more. And at that time I started at Vice. I was, um, I actually applied for a designer position. But they offered me an art director position. Um, you know? Yeah, exactly. And I was like, I don't even, I don't even know what the job description is like I'm going to, but I'm going to take this and I'm going to take this opportunity and Matt Schoen from Vice took a chance on me and I got there and you know, I was, I was green.
So there was not a lot of stuff. I wasn't thrown into the mix right away. It took a while to build trust with folks and like have them want me to work on their projects. So I was sitting on my hands a lot in the first six months, to be quite honest. And it was also like, I started on a like Thanksgiving week of 2015 um.
14 and inherently just that week from that point until the end of the year, it's just an agency land. It's kind of dead. I would learn that cause in, in Pacha land, that was the busiest time, cause holidays meant that people are going to be home and we put on so many events. So I went from that like almost like PTSD from holiday season.
Like am I going to be able to be with my family? Am I going to be able to make it to Easter? Cause we had, you know, or, or Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving Eve parties were so important. Anyway, so I filled my time with like learning InDesign at work and I was having all these feelings about the daily note and leaving.
And I was like, what if I just like, why not just. Throw together a, um, I wanted to get into publication design. Like, why don't I just start something? So, um, I felt like I was deejaying for awhile. I knew a lot of people. I knew when I thought about it, I knew writers and photographers. I was now at Vice and I was making friends and I had other design friends.
And I'm like, why don't I just ask everyone to submit something and put it together? And that's how. The first issue came about
Jon Sorrentino: [00:33:05] Love Injection is very much a physical experience, and it's a fanzine. It goes back to the early, for me being a student and learning about a newspaper, you know, like, um.
What's the stock called? Newsprint. I don't know why that slipped my head. Yeah. So it's, it's, you know, you're getting that kind of like very tactile feeling. Um, it's all black and white. I think you've only done a few color magazine issues. How do you and Barbie sort of balance your creative inputs? You know, like where, where do you see each other in that, in that kind of process?
Barbie Bertisch: [00:33:37] Well. I mentioned a little bit earlier that I come from a project management background and he comes from a design background. Even though I have a design degree that I just don't use, maybe I will one day if somebody is listening and I'll maybe be able to have a fashion project one day, but, um. Having worked as this sort of project manager with experience and magazines, um, it just became like a natural division of roles where, you know, and it's been super, it's not like you do this, I do that, but it's more just like, Hey, what do you need?
And I naturally gravitated towards more organizational, uh, sort of day to day management stuff. And he was the one that was like on the creative side. Like. That's sort of designing and so on and so forth. But the content, the stories, the people, it's all just a mutual collaboration amongst like what we are into very early on.
You know, being, being able to say, like you mentioned that you just interviewed your heroes is a really, really huge deal for us. Especially, because it comes from a place of honest curiosity. It's like, I wanna know what this person's story is like, and it's not like, Oh, this person's really big. We should get them because they're big.
It's not really how. We dictate what goes into it.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:34:53] When I was asked that, because as a know, as a, you know, we've been in media, you have had experience in that kind of world as well. It's like everything is very, the decisions are made based on like popularity, like click baity headlines and things like that.
And I would say that Love Injection is not like that at all. You know, it is very much going for the authentic sort of approach to things that you're genuinely interested in. What you think will really resonate with the community. How do you, I find that. You know, that's always a balancing act. Like what is cool and what is like going to get the popularity or the views and things like that.
Is there ever, do you ever kind of come up on those decisions where you have to kind of put that to the side or one or the other to the side?
Paul Raffaele: [00:35:31] I could honestly say we've never made a decision based on, um, like the idea that something would would be more popular. We've always, just from day one has just been all about our curiosities.
And I think we have that luxury because we're in, well, it sounds funny to say, but like we have that luxury because we're in print and we're so small and independent and it's like, okay, we'll just start with 200 copies and then we'll see what happens. And if there's more interest, then we'll print more.
And I think that like from the beginning, I was always, I was hearing like print is dead. And I'm like, how can, how can you say that? Like. People love to hold and read magazines and get off the off the screen. I think it's just silly to, to, to throw out a whole kind of genre of media because it hasn't worked in the traditional sense.
Um, that, that, that existed in for the last however many years. Um, I just think living within your means and like doing things, starting small was always important and still is like a key way of how we make decisions.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:36:36] And I think also this idea of just, I liked that you mentioned living within your means because.
As you have, you know, can tell them. If you've picked up the magazine, you can tell that it's not like a luxury product. It's not like an aspirational product. It's 28 pages and it's just very sort of plain paper, like there's no glossy high quality, like different stock, like the production value is super low, and that's on purpose.
Um, because this idea that like it can be picked up for free, that it can be accessed by anyone. Um, as opposed to coming from the fashion world. There's like $50 magazines, which like, of course there's also room for that in the greater landscape of print publications. But there's a long history, especially here in New York of really cheaply made publications by people who just have no, you know, greedy capitalist like intents at heart.
They're just doing it because they just want to do it at all costs, and that's what they have available to them. And so that's how you do it.
Paul Raffaele: [00:37:54] So it takes the form, it does by design, but not for design sake. It's so as many people can access it as possible. Sometimes I get, we get tempted to use color and to over-design things, but we always scale back and just, um, we'll always give priority to a longer interview with more texts over.
Like all this incredible negative space and cute design like that always takes a back seat to the content.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:38:21] Those restrictions, those guidelines kind of help the creativity and kind of continues to inform decisions that you make for the design and for the content. I think also, as we mentioned, you know, like putting a price on this, like just puts a gate up for people to that if it were to be more than $20 whatever, it's like.
That's another person that would never figure out about this like area of, of music and area of kind of like New York essentially.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:38:46] And especially, I think especially as a super timely conversation to have because we've seen nightlife be so commodified and just kind of, you know, $30 tickets to a night out is not something that everybody can afford.
I mean, good for you if you can, but if we're talking. You know, the democracy of what nightlife is supposed to represent or how nightlife originated. It's a place where people could go and escape their day to day. And they were often not accepted or not embraced by the sort of general public. And they sometimes didn't have the means to go party and, but people were taken in and it's like their night homes and their night family.
So, as a sort of extension of those values. I think that it's important to note that it's just meant to be for everybody and that we don't want it to be this elitist. I wouldn't say elitist cause it's a, but a financial barrier or a financial point of entry.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:39:49] You, in addition to the publishing, the zine monthly, you guys again have gone on.
It's going on five years now. And I also want, I had a huge list of names here before that I left out, so I want to make sure, um, Anthony Parasole a, uh, Honey Dijon, Kenny dope. The, the, the team at mr Saturday night, Louie Vega. Like I wanted to intentionally write these down, cause again, these are all people that I grew up with, so I was like, yeah, cool.
Um, but you also do a Classic Album Sundays. You also do The Lot radio show on the weekend and you know, you ha you host a party called Universal Love. Um, you know, I, you know, would you mind talking about some of those and, and how, how do you balance that with this, uh, rigid schedule of monthly publishing?
Paul Raffaele: [00:40:32] Um. It just comes from a place of needing these creative, creative outlets. Like for a long time, both of us had full time jobs while we were doing all that stuff. And it came from this, um, my day jobs, as great as they were. And as, um, as much as I learned at them and the, and, and the amazing people that I met there, they didn't leave me very creatively fulfilled.
Um, so I would always just come home and look forward to working on the magazine or, or preparing a party and putting up decorations and going out dancing or listening to music or doing The Lot radio every, every Saturday morning. Like, you know, we were just very fortunate to be asked. Right in the beginning of The Lot radio's life too, to do a random Saturday morning.
And we were a little worried that like, that's a, that's a tough time slot. 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM on Saturday morning
Jon Sorrentino: [00:41:27] Friday nights right?
Paul Raffaele: [00:41:29] Yeah. And I think we had a gig the night before and we're like, you know what, but let's just take it. This seems like a really cool thing. And we did. And literally, um. We never, we never stopped coming every Saturday
Jon Sorrentino: [00:41:40] The chat loves you.
I poke into the chat every once in a while, but over the years, every time I've checked in, there are more memes and gifs of you two during that time slot than the Le the year prior, the weekend prior, and it's really grown into a community.
Paul Raffaele: [00:41:56] Yeah. They asked us to come back every Saturday. And, uh, I just think, no, you know, in the beginning, no one, no one wanted that slot.
And we were happy to have it. And it was actually really just a really special time to play records. Like sun was blaring. People are kind of coming through, hanging out, reading and, um, meeting with friends and it gave purpose to, you know, we collect a lot of records and it gave purpose to a lot of these kinds of records that you can't play on a dance floor.
And I dunno, we just, um. We just really enjoy it. It's our, it's our favorite morning of the week.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:42:29] And, um, Classic Album Sundays actually came through. Um, the fifth issue of Love Injection. Um, it was one of those, meet your heroes, talk to your heroes. And then I interviewed, um, Colleen Cosmo Murphy. Um, she has a long history here in New York now, currently lives in London.
And she had started. Amongst many things, many accomplishments under her belt. Um, Classic Album Sundays. Um, that's her baby. And at the time, Ron Like Hell, who's also an incredible DJ, um, was running these and he was starting to travel a lot more and things just got kind of complicated. So he, uh and Colleen brought us and to run the New York sessions, um, which really just came out of us hitting it off during the interview.
So I think that had the interview, not habit, probably Classic Album Sundays wouldn't have happened. And it's been really great because we've learned and are still learning cause it's a sort of bottomless well of just. New experiences in learning and information about audio and high end audio specifically.
And I think that coming from these parties that I come from like joy and the loft, there is a huge, you know, a huge part of that is high end audio and finding better ways to listen to music communally, especially. So that was also an extension of the zine. Um, but yeah, I think in general. There is a lot going on, which is I think, something to be thankful for.
Um, but I don't think I would have it any other way. I think that I've, I mean, I don't want to speak for you, Paul, but I've always been this kind of person that just takes on various amounts of things. Like when I was in school, I was doing this online website, like Hypebeast type thing. And when I was, you know, trying to figure out what to do here in and was teaching myself how to code on like at night.
And so I'm kind of used to this multi-dimensional, like multipurpose, and that's what's shaped like my experience, like a little bit of this, a little bit of that. So I think it's just kind of just a continuation of like the path that we were on, both just a little bit more focused on music and nightlife specifically.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:44:51] I also want to talk about Universal Love because which is the party you to host. As you mentioned earlier, it's like the dance music scene, nightclubs scene. There is always an element where you're going and sort of like you're in an area of being accepted, and I think I was able to visit one of the first Universal Love parties and I would love to kind of hear your thoughts on how you approach that physical interaction now going from the zine going from being in deejaying at.
Um, different spaces, like how do you approach this party that you're trying to show people?
Paul Raffaele: [00:45:23] Yeah. New York has a incredible lineage of, uh, some of the world's first music, first parties starting with the loft in 1970 by Dave Mancuso. Valentine's day this year is actually gonna be the 50th anniversary of the loft, which still continues in a, in a regular format.
Um, and, and you know, from that there's the gallery and there was a paradise garage, and then those three places kind of just. They everything spiders out from those three places really from, but, but originating back at the loft and, um, it celebrated these values of inclusivity, social progress, um, communal gathering decorations that kind of make you feel like a kid and allow you to lower your inhibitions and, and cut any kind of, uh, pretentious.
You know, vibe and, um, every party from the, from the loft forward, you know, music first parties, take those ideas and concepts and then repackage them in different ways. And I think this is just our expression of that. And it was also a way to. You know, um, to, to raise money for the magazine, to find out who our readers are and what they look like and what they think, um, about what we do and, and how they see the scene that they're in to introduce the younger generation to this culture, this music culture.
Um, and just a way to gather every quarter or, or more sometimes.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:46:49] And, um, I think that one of them. Most I'd say gratifying things has been, you know, we're DJs and it's just like any other freelance job. Like you get booked for a gig and you show up and you try to be your best self. Um, but there's often a lot of elements that are not under your control, and that's just in any sort of environment.
You step into a foreign place. I think what we try to do, and we truly enjoy. Taking on as these parties develop is this idea of like, well, we have the ability to tweak these elements, like the decor or the kind of drinks that are offered or how people are greeted at the door, um, or you know, how to tell people to get off their phones.
Um, so these are all things that. A lot of times you just, when you're booked to play at a club, like you're just kind of like, okay, this is my job is to do this. Whereas at the party, you're job is actually like, the music is almost the last thing to come together. It's just more like, okay, do we have a door person?
Do we have, like the merch that we're trying to sell everything about it is this sort of live action version of what the zine is in a way. So yeah.
Paul Raffaele: [00:48:13] It also allows us, you know, starting so small. Again, this idea of always starting within your means, like, uh, we use the space, um, called magic city. It's a DIY space in Greenpoint.
It's kind of far out and not near anything else that's really kind of a destination. So you have to know why you're going there. Um, and we share a lot of same values as the owner, Rich, and, um. It allows us because of, because it's so far removed, it allows us to be really free musically. And like Barbie was saying, when you get booked at a club, the booker kind of almost.
Almost always has an idea of what you should be doing. Like you have a role, like you're warming up the floor for a bigger headlining DJ or, or you've got to keep the dancers dancing through peak time and keep them drinking and keep them spending money at the club or, or whatever. But we don't think about any of that.
Well, while we're at our own party and we just are really free musically, so we can play dance records and jazz records and early soul records, and ballads, like anything we want to do and because people are there for us, they've, we've trained them to expect that and they go with us. And it's really gratifying when you can get a crazy reaction out of someone.
That you, that it's not that we've never seen that kind of reaction before. Cause you've seen it in clubs when people are really losing it to dancing, but maybe you haven't seen it losing it to like a Joni Mitchell song in the context of it on the dance floor. You know? And that's really special because you've, you've set this kind of musical tone for them and they, they come along for the ride. Yeah. Having
Jon Sorrentino: [00:49:50] been able to attend, um, it's a very intimate space, a very sort of different party in, in, uh, in all of most positive ways. I even, uh, took my dad with me that one time cause you know, he, I think like it's just, it's such a welcoming, um, community that you guys have built before we end I wanted to ask, you know, like what.
What is the North star for, for Love Injection? You know, like what is the guiding light right now? Is there, do you have kind of any idea or intentions of the next, the next year going into five years?
Paul Raffaele: [00:50:26] Um, we don't tend to plan too far in advance. We're kind of just surviving month after month, but, you know, we are coming up on five years and we're trying to think about how we can celebrate that.
Um. We're going to do another Universal Love on January 25th, 2020. I'm not sure if this lab before that, it may, we'll get it out there somehow. Um, February, 2020 is our five year anniversary. So we're, you know, we're brainstorming that stuff, but mostly I think, uh, with our new found freedom from our day jobs, we're just trying to get ahead and create, uh, a stable of amazing creatives to work with.
And. Just keep on.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:51:12] Yeah. And I think something that often we don't think about. Um, just because we're so close to it, perhaps it's just the impact outside of the magazine. Um, or outside of the zine, I should say. But meeting people face to face and just being able to have, um, people use the term community so loosely today, and I think that one thing that.
Would be really nice to continue on and maybe even like double down on would be this ability to meet the people that read, care, want to contribute, you know? Um, so yeah, I think a little bit more of that. I think there, you know, I was having a conversation with some fellow DJs yesterday and one of the things that they mentioned was just sometimes nightlife feels so segmented here in New York.
And I think that what we hope or strive to do is just to kind of. Blur those boundaries a little bit, or to just to kind of put people onto things that they might not typically seek out. Um, so yeah, just to kind of unify a little bit more. That'd be nice.
Jon Sorrentino: [00:52:24] Where can people find more of you two more of Love Injection going into, uh, the new year.
Paul Raffaele: [00:52:31] Uh, loveinjection.nyc and Instagram at @loveinjection.nyc
Jon Sorrentino: [00:52:37] Paul, barbie, thank you so much for joining me today.
Barbie Bertisch: [00:52:40] Thank you. It's been a pleasure.
Paul Raffaele: [00:52:41] Thanks so much.