Apiento, as he is not known to his mum, possesses the chameleonic qualities of a survivor in an increasingly puzzling world – and impenetrable music industry. It’s a testament to his mien that he’s elegantly surfed those changes and come out the other side with his pants still intact.
Paul Byrne is one of those backroom boys who is well known in the wider music industry, while rarely being troubled by flying lingerie in Sainsbury’s despite his public facing DJ/producer moniker, Apiento. Born and raised in south-east London, he grew up during a golden period in the capital’s history, with the explosion in pirate radio and specialist import stores, in a city where DJ culture has always thrived, long before the idea of a superstar DJ was ever mooted.
Having left school without a clear plan, he blagged his way into a job with Dick O’Dell, who’d run Bristol’s leftfield funk label Y, before launching Guerrilla Records, with Paul as his teenage adjunct. He moved to Junior Boys Own in 1993, working alongside Terry Farley and Steve Hall, during a golden period for British house and electronic music that saw Chemical Brothers, Underworld, X-Press 2 and Fire Island all signed to the indie label with big ideas and a small staff.
Subsequent to that, he briefly worked alongside Dave ‘Switch’ Taylor as Yes Productions making beats for M.I.A. and set up the Test Pressing blog, which has now almost morphed into a full-time job (unpaid, of course). Test Pressing, recently revamped and driven by Byrne’s particular vision, showcases fresh interviews, DJ mixes, beautifully curated older pieces and, more recently, a planned series of stylised pamphlets of which Balearic DJs was the first (it sold out in a week).
His productions, frequently in tandem with wunderkind Alex Tepper (as Apiento & Co), are what has brought him some minor acclaim over the past few years, among the discerning denizens of what’s left of the Balearic scene (or whatever it’s called these days) and he’s now recorded for Phantom Island, World Unknown and Music For Dreams, among others.
Although Apiento is more crepuscular than prolific, his stock has slowly risen – at the risk of making him sound like a sauce Espagnole rather than a record producer – as the enigmatic backroom boy gradually takes to the stage. Don’t expect him to be demanding helicopters or caviare served off a Vizsla puppy anytime soon, but don’t be surprised to see him making people’s feet move in the local heads club in Portugal, Bristol or Croatia
He’s finally come in from the cold.