Archive | May, 2011

Get Ready With saint. – The Mix

27 May

saint.

With an explosive start thanks to an amazing remix of Adele, the exclusive mix saint. put together for us only gets better from there. As per usual, saint. allows the tracks to play almost in their entirety, giving her listeners a rich musical experience while still appeasing those with audio A.D.D. as a result of the astonishing genre diversity. This mix combines tracks by many of my favorite artists, including Neoteric, Hercules and Love Affair, and Azari and III, just to mention a few.

As with all the mixes that find themselves here on Retail DJ (and even moreso, those of the featured artists), it’s been put through what I like to call “the test,” meaning that I have listened to it on repeat while I do basically everything, particularly getting ready. Needless to say, saint.’s sonic joyride definitely passed with flying colors. The mix is uplifting, fun, and incredible danceable – so much so that getting ready might be  little hard with all the moving you’ll be doing.

Anyway, enough talking. Let’s get to werk and Get Ready With saint. :

Retail DJ Presents . . .

Get Ready With saint. 

(click to play; click the small arrow on the right to download)

(or download here: Get Ready With saint.  (right click + save target as))

tracklist

Honey Dijon – Happy Adele

Hercules And Love Affair – My House (Stopmakingme Remix)

Hercules & Love Affair – Step Up

Mobroder – Rush (In Flagranti Remix)

Mobroder – Rush (ORIGINAL)

Jessica 6 – Freak the Night

Azari & III – Into The Night (Original)

Tiger & Woods – Dr. Burner

Neoteric & Wax Motif – Go Deep (Original Mix)

Deekline & Ed Solo – Shake That Money & Go

Cosmic Kids – Reginald’s Groove (Classixx Remix)

Senor Stereo – Unintentional feat. Danny Daze (Craze’s Quiet Storm Remix)

Kry Wolf – Everybody Original

Anna Lunoe & Wax Motif – Love Ting (Them Jeans Remix)

Avicii & Sebastien Drums – My Feelings For You (Treasure Fingers Remix)

Fries & Bridges feat. Cee-Lo Green – Forever This

Arveene & Misk feat. Aaron Smyth – Love Money Music Body (Evil Nine Vocal Mix)

Beyonce – Crazy in love (Fare Soldi Chiapponzilla rmx)

Duck Sauce – Good 2 Me (Louis La Roche Edit)

Broke One – Shine On (Original Mix)

Autoerotique – Freak (Poupon Remix)

Senor Stereo – I Am The Beat feat. Louisahhh!!! (Salva Remix)

– Retail DJ

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What’s Good? saint. (part two)

25 May

. . . continued from part one

I really appreciate your statement about “dollar bin DJs.” What is is that you think, beyond say, creativity, that really “makes” a DJ stand out and stick around? And in your case, what were some of the signature qualities that helped you get to where you are?

The essential qualities for a DJ to possess are pretty rudimentary but not everyone has the passion to upkeep them.  For one, a firm grasp on music and how it has evolved, as well as how it becomes relevant again.  Before I even attempted to play records for a room, I researched and researched.  My entire career is essentially an ongoing research project-I used my open mind and understandings of genres and types of music to expand the horizon of the world to me.  One thing a lot of new DJs don’t understand nor care to research is how the music that they are playing now originated.   Unfortunately, the days of the record store have been numbered and are very limited (especially in Ohio)-so someone starting off as a DJ doesn’t necessarily have the luxury of going to their local record store and going through crate after crate of records.

Which leads me to another point, DJing is more than a trend, it’s a life one has to be willing to accept.  If you are in it to be the next’ superstar celebrity DJ then I honestly want nothing to do with you, ever.  However, if you are in it because you have experienced the practically orgasmic feel of exploding a room through creativity, reading, and programing, then you may be my best friend 🙂  A lot of new DJs, hop on the trend of whatever music is popping off right now, rather it is dubstep, bmore, moombathon, indie-electro, etc and they dedicate their whole brand of DJing to playing this while it’s hot. Unfortunately these kids (I don’t care if you’re 45 or 23-you’re a kid) fail to do know their history and realize that what they are playing isn’t relevant in terms of actually being new.

We’ve seen this here countless times with songs like Paper Planes, or American Boy, to bands such as MGMT, Justice, or Holy Ghost, to whole genres such as Dubstep and Moombathon. [They fail] to realize that the only reason they know of it is because it’s new to the mainstream, not to anything else (which can mean up to a 2 year difference!). So while actual DJs are doing their jobs; by that I mean introducing new music to audiences (educating) while giving them a comfortable palette of what’s familiar (catering), these dollar bin DJs are staining the life by playing what they just heard came aware of via an outdated source (radio, MTV, etc).

Everything is spontaneous, I enjoy the fun and the challenge of the creative process.  Music is a journey and I like to share my journey – the highs, the lows, the successes, and the failures – equally with my audience.  I feel you can’t do that going in with your set predetermined. Even if you are playing the same club every week, week in and week out, you can’t predict how the room is going to be paced. Yeah, you may have an idea of what songs are really going to get everyone going, but that in itself is not enough, you have to read in real time and program everything to fit in its right place every night.

What are some of the other venues, and how do they differ from Bounce?

Some of the other venues vary from Bounce in the crowd that they attract.  It sucks that this distinction has to be made (but it seems necessary in this region and unfortunately this day and age) but Bounce is one of the only lgbtpqqia exclusive clubs in town.  Granted, I am aware of the safety levels of being a transgender person and very publicly exposed so I don’t play in venues or events that pose a high risk of personal safety for me-because of trial and error I have seen on first hand how ugly things can get.  The other venues, however, that I do play in are very open minded venues and have the real mentality that it doesn’t matter what your story is-you come for good music, period.  It (this message) doesn’t echo too well across the local lgbtpqqia spectrum in Cleveland, but those in the community that have made it out to these venues realize that it is a friendly and open change of pace from their ordinary nightlife.  The main venue is the Bside Liquor Lounge in Coventry Village (Cleveland Heights)-it’s literally an underground venue (located under the Grog Shop).  We have world renowned DJs and acts in the venue and the resident and rotating DJs there are of [high] caliber.

In addition to DJing, you also work as a makeup artist and designer. Can you tell us a little more about that work and how it all connects to your work in music?

Working as a makeup artist as well as graphic designer directly relate to my career as a DJ.  For one, I never need a stylist and between my design skills and marketing know-how I am practically my own publicist and marketing team.  I have an extreme love for photography as well and if I’m not behind the decks I can usually be found behind the lens.  A lot of people always approach me about EC and ask me ‘who does your flyers, they are always so neat’ which in itself leads into its own line of work by doing design work for other clubs, djs, promoters, businesses, etc.  I like to use my creativity as not only a benefit and efficiency for myself but for others out there too-even if it’s outside of the nightlife community and involves working with local organizations, or educational environments.

How did you come about the name “saint.”? Does your music redeem your listeners from sin? 🙂

I like that reasoning! I wish that was the case, I actually earned the nickname in high school.  I went to a catholic high school and whereas I had my teenage bad girl club moments, I wasn’t a known troublemaker and believed in concepts such as respect for my instructors.  One day in study hall, a few students were conspiring to some antics and asked me if I wanted in, I promptly responded with a ‘no, I’m good but thanks’ in which the questioning student asked me “what are you going for sainthood or something”.  From that point, I snapped back with a “yes actually I am-so you can refer to me as saint for now on” and the rest is history 🙂

How has it been to be a transgender woman in the music and entertainment scene? What have been the benefits? the challenges? changes you hope for in the future?

My journey being a DJ as well as being a transgender woman has been one full of challenges and unexpected rewards.  One of the greatest challenges is the fact that I didn’t begin my DJ career as a transgender woman, for the first 7 or so years of my career I was not yet out.  When I came out, I was worried about whatever devastation my career would face, if I would even ever DJ again.  As many know, the realm of the DJ is one that is largely dominated by heterosexual, cis-gender men-a transgender DJ may ruffle one too many feathers.  Once I made the decision to come out and go public with my transition, the reception from the DJ community has been overall great.  Yes, some connections and relationships were lost but the ones that have maintained and the ones that continue to grow overshadow any severed connections.  One of the challenges I continue to face is the necessary task of education, I know I’m just here to play records but I do have an obligation as a representative to the transgender community to educate people the dynamics of gender, sexuality, etc.

Are there other transpeople in whom you find inspiration or whom you consider role models in your field?

There are definitely other transwomen that influence me, however I find it rare (at least in my current city) to find other transwomen DJs.  The ones that I do know of have been tremendous influences on my confidence-it’s a great reminder that I’m not necessarily alone out there.  In general I find inspiration and admiration in many women, trans or cisgender, one of the key examples is in my mother, who is my biggest champion 🙂

What are some things you are doing / hope to do in order to serve as an educator beyond just an amazing DJ and industry role model?

I try to speak and do advocacy work with the greater LGBTPQQIA community and beyond.  I have spoken at colleges and universities, shared my stories with adolescents and young adults, as well as having the honor of speaking before my city at events such as Trans Day of Remembrance.  I share my story and my mind with as many people as possible in hopes of increasing the accuracy in the representation of the trans community.  I hope that my story and my experiences will help people with the same struggle as me realize they aren’t alone and you can, as my mother always believed, dare to be different while being successful.

– Retail DJ


What’s Good? saint. (part one)

24 May

saint.

“Keep Calm and Just Dance” might be one of the mottos for her dance party Eclectic Circus, but “calm” is the last thing I think of when I hear this lady’s work. Just whom am I talking about? Zoë Renee Jackson, better known as saint. . Though her moniker was earned from her good behavior, her  mixing will lead you to some serious sinning.

She sent me an email way back in January to introduce herself and to promote one of her recent additions to her Chocolate City mix series (which you can listen to here), and I was quite impressed. Beyond being an excellent DJ, saint is also very creative. Makeup and styling are certainly among her list of many talents. Yet in an interesting twist, she doesn’t live in NYC, LA, or Miami. She calls Cleveland, Ohio her home, breaking many stereotypes about the Midwestern music scene (save Chicago and Detroit, of course). In a time when large major cities are experiencing a bit of a musical rut, it’s good to know there are always people out there who are pushing the envelope and using their music to move a dancefloor.

In addition to being a trendsetter in music, saint. is also serving to change the landscape of the music scene as being one of the few transgender DJs out there, particularly with such a diverse following. Her dance party was recently ranked one of the top music parties in Ohio, despite its newness, and I completely understand why.

I had the opportunity to speak with saint about her work as a DJ, promoter, and overall Renaissance woman. Take a moment to find out what she had to say and see What’s Good with saint. :

The mix that you initially sent us, “Return to Chocolate City,” spanned so many different musical genres. What inspired you to make it and what equipment/system did you use to put it all together? I also noticed that, unlike many DJs, you allowed many of the songs you chose to play out almost in their entirety. What motivated that choice? Are most of your mixes done in this way or was it an explicit choice for this mix?

The “Return to Chocolate City” mix is actually a part of a series of mixes that I release in a Chocolate City family.  My reasons for initially starting this series was that I could open a new avenue of playing a lot of music from a lot of DJs and producers that influence me, musically.  It’s really a great way for me to relax from some of the nights out I have when working.  It allows me to play music that really speaks to me and that I would gladly play for free any night of the week.  When I am doing one of these mixes, I envision a story of an epic night out in a city dripping in rhythm-from start to finish.  In respects to my mixing style in the chocolate city series, I choose to play the full length of a lot of songs because there is a story to be told within the beat, and there is a story within the transition to the next song.  I ‘ride’ a lot of the mixes out for 1 minute or more in the series, allowing the phrasing to speak to the listener, for them to close their eyes and project their selves in this adventure with me.  I have been known to change my style around, especially during really high energy performance sets, in which case I use the selection and the phrasing to tell the story.  I use a basic setup of two turntables, a mixer, and my scratch live unit-I also do al of my mixes in one take with little to no pre-determinations of structure made.   Every mix I release, I release live and on-the-fly, it’s a true reflection of what you may expect when you see me perform live.

Generally, what type of music do you play for your monthly party Eclectic Circus? Does it mirror the music of your mix in its diversity or does it generally find itself in one genre or another?

The Eclectic Circus sound is as the name implies; eclectic.  I approach EC sets as an opportunity to introduce new musical; avenues and a different style of nightlife that they experience in this city and other cities.  It is a balance of what’s familiar and what’s delightfully peculiar, haha.  It is really the craziest party in the city.  As a DJ, I feel, one has an obligation to the people to nurture them in the comfort of what they know but also educate.  I love, love, absolutely LOVE to give people that “what record was that? I don’t think I’ve heard anything like it but I love it!” feeling.  It was those feelings hat influenced me to further expand my musical knowledge and ultimately transformed me into the DJ that you see today 🙂

How has your crowd responded to the music? to the party? 

Eclectic Circus, or EC, has been received extremely well by the people.  We have a very loyal following of next generation club kids that are absolutely die-hard supporters.  We have a large EC family, all of us of diverse backgrounds.  I started this party in May of 2010 as a result of countless frustration with the lack of unity within the Cleveland nightlife communities.  I wanted to create a party that all people could come to and, as our motto states, leave your labels at the door.  Today, the primary EC family (myself, DJ Mike Filly, DJ techwizard, promoter Tom Gay, and other members of our support staff) work extremely hard to bring something new, different, and fun to our fair city 🙂  We have been able to expand the EC brand to other clubs and other parties at venues in and outside of Cleveland.  I am still in a state of disbelief when I realize that this is happening, it’s surreal but it’s a blessing.  The primary EC party is held on the third Thursday of every month at Bounce Nightclub.

How’s Cleveland, Ohio treating you? Do you ever find it limiting or is it liberating in its own right? How has your party and your music provoked the people within your surroundings? Have you ever DJ’d in other cities? and if so, how did the environments compare/contrast?

I’m making this next statement in the most sincere manner-Cleveland, Ohio is one of the most special cities in the United States.  It is one of the most challenging cities for a DJ, promoter, artist, or other creative minded person-but these struggles are what I feel to be necessary to truly understand your own integrity.  It took me a significant amount of time to be recognized as a respectable DJ in this city, not that there are DJs for days in this town but the DJs that are established in this city or honestly world class DJs.  To gain the respect and recognition as ‘worthy’ takes more than just the hype of the hustle, it actually takes the goods to back it.  Yes, it can be crowded, it can even be cut-throat, but once you are proven, you reap all of which you sow.  I’ve played and still play in other cities, large cities in which the only effort to have a sustainable nightlife is to be open.  It’s nice but there is no challenge, you have a city full of as I call it-dollar bin DJs and the waters become so diluted in the nightlife that the people can’t actually discern quality from (word for garbage).  In Cleveland, if you are trying to run a night or a venue that actually gives a unique club experience, you (in a Rupaul voice) better work!! At the end of the day, we’re a blue collar town that isn’t primarily influenced by avant garde culture, to think outside of the curve can be dangerous here, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.    Cleveland is home, it will always be home, it will always be the city that allowed me to see just how talented of a DJ I am, I don’t plan on staying here forever (I actually have plans on leaving this city soon) but I will always appreciate and be grateful of where I’ve come from.

check back tomorrow for part two!

– Retail DJ

Happy Friday

20 May

Submitted without comment 🙂

– Retail DJ

Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999 – The Mix

19 May

It’s odd that we feature pop music and hip hop, at least in explicit, raw, un-remixed forms, here on Retail DJ. Yet when we do, we do it for very good reason. This time around, we were given a more than legitimate reason to post a lil pop thanks to this week’s featured artist Haruka Salt 999. Staying true to our commitment to provide the best music for dancing, getting ready, and general revelry at home or on the street, this mix provides the framework for all the above.

In keeping with her mission to provide a mixtape-like feel to all of her live and recorded sets,
Haruka takes us through a trip of hip hop, breaks, dance rock, funk carioca, and electronic dance music without a blink. When I got the mix in my soundcloud inbox, it’s initial title was “Get It Poppin.” I immediately knew I was in for a treat – one that I now share with you all without the slightest hesitation. This versatile mix is perfect for any mood, so I encourage you to play, download, and share it stat! Don’t waste any time. Come with us to Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999!

Retail DJ Presents . . .

Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999

(click to play; click the small arrow on the right to download)

(or download here: Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999 for Retail DJ (right click + save target as)

tracklist (song – artist)

Bars-Ninjasonik

Pennies-Lady Sovereign

Dangerous (The Big Beat’s Next Level Mix)-Busta Rhymes

Well Oso-Daniel Haaksman feat. MC Miltinho

Apollo Throwdown (Star Slinger Remix)-The Go! Team

Que Que-Dillon Francis & Diplo (feat. Maluca)

Jumpin N Pumpin (Lewis CanCut Remix Feat. Mars e Pan)2009-Edu K

Bass Down Low (Explicit ver.)-Dev

HIP HOP FINAL -AB Soto

Open (Plastic Little Remix)-Dub Pistols Feat Tk And Jms

I Am Somebody (paris version)-Dj Mehdi feat. Chromeo

Cooler Couleur (Voyou Remix)-Crookers Feat. Yelle

Creature-Kim Ann Foxman & Andy Butler

Might Like You Better-Amanda Blank

B-Rockin’-Tittsworth

Guns-3 Is A Crowd

‘Ta Com Medo De Mim?-Oliver$ & Deize Tigrona

Why Don’t You-Gramophonedzie

Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999 – The Photoshoot

18 May

On a sunny, Sunday afternoon in Bed Stuy, we met up with Haruka Salt 999 to get a little taste of what goes on in her mind when she’s getting ready. Our answer was an unexpected silence as Ms. Salt needs little preparation. Armed with eyeliner and fun flats, there’s little else that Haruka considers gig essentials, but throw in a question or two about her tattoos and her mixtaping habit and she’ll open far more than just her closet. For Haruka, art imitates life, with her style choices often being random and off the cuff – save her enormous eyeglasses – much like her daily (lack of) routine.

But much like Haruka the person and the DJ, her style throws a few curveballs as well, with her softer side sneaking in at the perfect time and her edge taking a backseat. Without much further ado, take a moment to join us as we Get Ready With Haruka Salt 999!

Haruka w/ her dog DJ

You have a lot of tattoos. What inspired them all?

It’s all about my life. This neck tattoo, for example, is for Akasha. I got it on April 24th, my birthday. It says “Spin 999.” I mean, he’s the one who put me onto DJing in New York. It wasn’t a huge thing – just a house party – but he put me on. Our birthdays are the same and he named me. So it’s a friendship tattoo.

BEFORE

I have others: one for my dog DJ, another that says “BK” for Brooklyn because I love this borough. My newest one means a lot. I’m 30 now, and I have experienced so much. There were lots of things that happened to me or people in my life that were no good. I was tired of dealing with the drama from people who shouldn’t have been in my life. It’s time for me to live my life as a woman, a woman who is strong, so that’s why I decided for this one to be the image of a woman.

Does anyone in particular inspire your sense of style fashion-wise?

Gays! [laughs] Yeah, gays and lesbians. They are truly creative and talented, so they inspire me all the time.

What about places you shop? You’re so small that it seems like clothing that fits would be difficult to find.

Nowhere! Sometimes A Children’s Place on Fulton. [laughs] Vintage stores, Salvation Army, thrift stores, wherever I can.

Any favorite colors or prints?

I like red a lot, though what I wear and what I like in a color are different.

What about makeup?

I don’t put anything on my face but eyeliner. I like my eyes. I don’t like everything perfect perfect. Every time I see someone, I focus on one part. Everyone has one part that is so attractive. I find my eyes are the most attractive “piece” of my body. So that’s why I like to make them stand out more.

I’ve got mad pairs of glasses too! [laughs] At least 9 or 10 pairs of the big ones. I’ve been wearing this style now for the past two years. They are prescription. When I DJ sometimes, it’s hard. I can’t always see Serato as clearly without them

What about when you are getting ready? What is that process like?

I listen to music. Sometimes soul, disco, electro, classic – just whatever I feel. I DJ every day, so when I am getting ready for a gig, it’s just a normal process now. I wear whatever comes to mind, which is very much like my life. It’s about what I want for now.

I wear flats or sneakers. It’s key for me to be comfortable. I can’t dance in heels, but with sneakers, heeyyyyy! [laughs] But I used to wear heels all the time. I still wear them sometimes when I go out, especially when I want to make myself a woman, feel more feminine. I am a woman, but sometimes I forget – especially in this industry. I’m so used to doing things on my own. I really don’t like to ask for help. I just wanna do it by myself. It’s all about confidence. That’s what I like.

Can you tell us a bit about your website (http://harukasalt999.com) ?

Sure. I’m used to making mixtapes. That’s what we used to do. Here, everyone wants to DJ for parties. But back in the day, I just wanted to be a DJ for myself. Every day, I’d come home from school and get on the tables. I bought vinyl and wanted to mix. I guess that was like art for me.

AFTER

So the website is all about how I DJ and how I think about music. It’s simple. DJs are not superstars. That’s just what I think. We get a lot of respect – and I appreciate that – but let’s be honest: we just play music that other people make. Anybody can do it. It’s all about timing.

– Retail DJ

What’s Good? Haruka Salt 999 (Part Two)

17 May

Continued from part one

Did you consider the music in Chicago better?

I can’t say it’s better. I strongly believe in this: We can say an artist is better or a certain type of music is better, but it’s all about what you like. If you don’t like it, don’t fuck with it. But personally, I’m more into the Chicago scene. Everything is there, at least what I wanted musically. It’s funny because I really wanted to come to New York, but if I had skipped Chicago, I might not be DJing like this.

When I was in Chicago, I was so shocked by juke music. I never realized there was black music with such heavy electro.

I really like sexy, booty music. I love the house, soul, everything.

So you went from classical to hip hop to all these new forms of music. How would characterize your sound and personal musical preferences now in the aftermath of this exposure? 

I like music that makes me shake my ass off. That’s it! [laughs] I like sexy music. Even classical music has a sexy side!

I really like Chicago House, Baltimore Club, bass. I like electro, but sometimes I really wanna shake my ass, not just jump. I mean, sometimes jumping is fine,  but not all night.

What equipment do you use?

Technics only, no Gemini! [laughs] I use Serato when I play out, but I am really a vinyl person. That’s why it was hard for me initially when I first started DJing in the United States because it all costs so much money. When I came to the U.S., Serato had pretty much just come out. I wavered between shipping my vinyls from Japan or buying a computer and Serato here. It’s pretty much the same amount of money. About $3000 to get all my records, or the same price to get a computer and Serato. I decided on the computer and Serato, and I think I made the right choice.

How did you get involved in the BANANAS party?

They are my friends. There’s a big gay community in Bed Stuy. My café where I work is owned by people in that community, so it was natural for me to engage with them. I find them to be really creative, talented people. That’s why I got involved with them. They are so free and they’re strong. Even though they have dicks, something is different. I don’t judge, but how straight men live their lives and how gay men live their lives is often totally different. I’m sure that they have had a hard time in the past, so I connect with them.

I started working with That’s My Jam! through the same group, but BANANAS was my first gig. I really appreciate Jlamar and Jamie [ed. note: the promoters and hosts for BANANAS] because if they hadn’t included me in BANANAS, I wouldn’t be here. I’ve learned so many things, and that party inspired me so much. I was actually their first resident DJ. They were always switching around before me, but as soon as I got on the table, they were like, “You should work with us.” And I thought, “Why not?” I still work with them to this day.

You’re also a resident at other spots – can you tell us a little bit about those?

I DJ at Sweet and Vicious in SoHo. It’s my weekly Thursday, Friday, Saturday spot if I’m not booked at some other party. On Mondays, I play at Project Parlor. We just started that party. It’s been about a month. I wanted to have my spot, my party, to be all about good music, good people, and having a good time. You don’t have to act like you’re cool or act like someone you’re not. Just be there, same place, same time. I don’t promote hard. I just tell people like, “Yeah man, I’m DJing every Monday. Same place, same time. If you wanna come, come.”

The party’s called “Wonton Soup.” My friend Eddie, who goes by DJ Edward Swisherhands, also DJs. His music taste is amazing. He just started DJing. I believe that if you keep doing something, your skill can catch up, but you’re born with your talent and your taste. Those are things that just belong to you. I really like his music style, and I thought that he and I could do whatever we wanted to.

It’s called “Wonton Soup” because one time, he played “Wonton Soup” by Lil B, and everyone was going crazy for no reason.

We both liked the title, so we decided on that. Names often come up without some deep meaning or reason. I never look for them. It all happens randomly.

Considering you play in both the queer and straight scenes, have you noticed any differences in the crowd or the scenes themselves?

Hell fucking yes! [laughs] [Queer people] know how to have fun. No bullshit.

At some parties, people just want to act like they’re having a party, when they’re not. They are not having fun. That’s why I don’t go out as much because when a party is like that, it’s a waste of my time. I can go to a club and hear an amazing DJ, playing great tracks, but the vibe is so whack. I think, “Why are you all just sitting down and looking at me? Why aren’t you dancing? Why are you here?!?!” I see that sometimes in the straight scene. They might be there to look for music, but most likely, something else.

Not all straight parties are like that, of course, but there are still some differences in the vibe. I mean no disrespect to any scene. The queer parties just seem more real, but every scene is different. Even when it comes down to what I play. How I choose music is totally different depending on if the party is gay, lesbian, straight. I pretty much go on the vibe I get from the people. If there are people shaking their asses, I go hard and play music for that, but if they don’t know how to, or if they seem like they want something more mellow, I go with hip hop. I used to prepare my sets, but now I just read the crowd.

When I was in Japan, I always wanted to be prepared. But one day, I just realized that had to change. Your set is just in your house, for yourself and for your imagination, but that’s not real.  Making a set makes me feel like a novelist. It’s like work. I don’t like to do arts to make money. I am making money right now, but I never do it for money. I do it for fun.

One day, I lost my job, I got hit by a car (all in one day) and I had to really begin to sacrifice. I thought to myself, “What can I do to survive here? All I have is Japanese and DJing.” When DJing becomes your job, it’s kinda hard, but it helps that I love doing it.

It’s hard to enjoy going out sometimes, though, because as a DJ, you’re technically always working. No matter what, you’re DJing. Like if I go out, and I hear a new song that I really like, I think, “I need that!” There’s no time for me to purely enjoy somebody’s set. It’s mental work at all times, especially if the other DJ is really good.

Do you find anything particularly challenging about being a DJ in NYC?

To me, it’s the easiest place. Everything is here. The most important thing is you, making the choice as to where you want to play. You have so many choices. Where I’m from, we didn’t have as many choices. New York is the best place to be a DJ. Yes, it’s a hustle because so many people want to do it, but if you know where to go, everything is easy. If you want to do it, just do it.

I remember when I first met you, you were wearing these baggy pants, a side ponytail, and huge glasses!

I looked like a nerd, yo! [laughs]

And I remember the first thing you said to me after I introduced myself was “Do you DJ?” And I said, “No, I just interview them,” and you encouraged me, saying that I should really look into DJing. Did anyone provide you with that type of push or encouragement along your journey to become a DJ?

No one, really. I don’t like people forcing me to do things! [laughs] I have a strong personality.

When I DJ, people are usually shocked because it doesn’t look like the music could come from me. I remember once that I DJed at this neighborhood bar with mainly black patrons. I showed up with big glasses and a crazy outfit, and people were shocked at what I played. I blew their mind. In the end, they really liked me. That’s kind of my secret enjoyment – surprising people with what they least expect.

– Retail DJ

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