A lot of people assume DJs just push a button, can you elaborate on what a DJ actually does?
DJ’ing has gotten a some what of a bad rap over the years and technology is partially to blame. Programs that can auto mix or sync are now either widely available and inexpensive or even free. Some places hire “celebrity DJ’s” to sell tickets when they’ve never even touched a turntable. They usually have someone else do the mixing. And then a few years ago a couple high profile international DJ’s got busted playing pre-mixed sets. That didn’t send a good message to aspiring Dj’s.
An inherent part of a DJ’s job is to read the crowd and respond accordingly, play to the room, beat-match, mix harmonically, be versatile and knowledgeable, maintain the energy, be knowledgeable and proficient in the operation of his or hers equipment and essentially take the listener on a journey. There’s a lot of moving parts and only the consummate professional can maintain a well-oiled machine in longevity, so to speak. Those that don’t take it seriously or pay due diligence fade away fast. I’ve seen it happen many times.
What kind of music do you mostly play?
I was born is the states, moved around a lot as a kid and grew up in Germany. I’ve worked in radio, as a music TV host and as a music journalist. I went though many musical phases over the years including punk, rock, industrial, goth, new wave, glam, mod, funk, soul, disco, indie, Brit Pop and seemingly every sub genre of electronic music–house, techno, ambient. You name it. So, to that end, i mostly play a mixed bag of good music spanning multiple genres across many decades. You may hear me mix The Clash into Prince into The Jam into Soulwax into Daft Punk into James Brown into Chuck Berry into Notorious BIG into Kraftwerk, for example. I like to mix it up, keep it unpredictable and have fun.
What makes you decide to play a particular record during one of your sets? Is there a criteria other than pure subjectivity, for selecting what to play at a gig?
When I walk into a room before I even put my first record on I walk around check out the crowd to see who’s there, what they’re wearing, how old the crowd is, what kind of music is already playing–to get a feel of the energy. From there I will ease into my set. As the night goes on I will pick it up, increase the volume, and take the room on a journey appropriate to the energy of the room.
What’s your go to song that never fails to get the crowd going?
Wow, that’s a good one. I prefer the classics – – funk, Soul, Disco. They never fail and always get the room moving.
You have DJed at celeb parties, film and TV cast parties etc, what has been your most memorable gig?
Every celeb party is always memorable for a different reason. Whether its meeting your favorite movie and TV stars, mingling with pop icons or DJ’ing alongside members of your favorite bands. Just a few of my most memorable gigs would include opening up for Pet Shop Boys, playing the official Coachella pre parties, NYC’s now defunct Misshapes and playing alongside members of The Smiths, Ramones and Sex Pistols.
What is the craziest night you’ve had while djing?
That’s a tough one–probably the craziest night would be when I had 3 different gigs in one day. By the end of the third I was seeing double haha.
My first weekly party I ever threw got pretty crazy–the bartenders would blow fire and light the bar in fire, girls would dance too less on the bar and club goers would have sex and consume drugs openly. It was completely mad.
Whats the weirdest/strangest thing thats ever happened while playing a set?
Marky Ramone pissing into his wine glass in the DJ booth next to me was pretty weird. Getting requests from famous actors is pretty common in Hollywood.
What are the perks of being a DJ?
You get to make a living from playing other people’s music which is pretty cool. Meeting so many amazing people all over the world is an obvious perk as well but making people happy and getting an entire club dancing is by far the best.
Any crazy groupie stories?
Ha ha, a gentlemen never tells. What I can say is that I have, on more than one occasion, received an indecent proposal right then and there in the DJ booth.
How is the money?
My very first paid gig I was offered $50 to play records for 4 hours. That was a long, long time ago. But at the time I couldn’t believe I was getting paid to play my favorite tunes. Last year, Calvin Harris banked $66 million. Although he’s more of a producer than a DJ, technically. So it really depends on how hard you work and on what level you’re at.
What is one mistake you see a lot of up and coming DJs making? / What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
The biggest mistake that I probably see up-and-coming DJs making is they think they can buy a laptop, download some free DJ software and go out and start rocking night clubs without paying any dues. I’ve always told aspiring DJs that showing up in teaching is the easy part it’s everything else behind the scenes that’s most important. Practicing, owning your craft. Ping respect to those who paved the way for you. Doing the research and knowing the history of the art and of the music in general.