If you ever danced at the early '90s hotspot S.O.A., you may remember Dee Empty; he's been behind decks in Dallas for more than two decades.
In recent years, Dee Empty has been a member of Tree House Collective, with which he spins bass-heavy house music. As a DJ, he prefers upbeat songs to the gloom and doom of harder techno or other aggressive electronic music genres.
For this week's mixtape, Dee Empty puts the positive vibes on blast for a mix with an extra-funky bounce.
How did you get started deejaying? What drew you to it?
I was working an after-school job back 1992 when a guy I met there gave me a flyer to a party at S.O.A. That was my first rave ever; as soon as I walked in, my life changed. It was the first time I felt love outside of my family, and the beats went straight to my heart. By the next week I was buying records and learning to spin on my friend's 1200s. After some time, I played my first set ever at S.O.A. on a Wednesday night foam party, and I've been going ever since.
How was this mix made? Is there a theme?
This mix was made using four decks on a Traktor S4 controller at Basshead Studios. I try to pick music that not only sounds good but is positive in its message. I figure that if I have a crowd listening closely that I should lead them to a happy dancing place, not with angry or depressing tunes.
How did Treehouse Collective come about?
Me and Samuel L Waxin started the group in his backyard. We used to do parties there all the time, and there is a big foam tree with a treehouse. People would hang out up there and watch our parties. Then we got known as the place with the treehouse. We wanted the initials THC, so Tree House Collective was born. Now we do the Dallas Drum Djam at the Green Elephant every week, building something special, and we have been going strong ever since.
What has been your most significant musical experience of the past year?
Well, this year Tree House Collective teamed up with Basshead Society, and we did Evarland in July, which was a weekend camp. It was way fun. Tree House kept the party rocking all weekend and never stopped. We provided groovy good times and had people dancing all weekend. We're getting ready to do the Halloween party there in November, and we're going to make it bigger and better.
Do you have a musical background that came before deejaying?
I grew up with my dad playing in a country band. There were always instruments around, and I started playing them at a young age. In seventh grade, I played guitar in my first band, and that continued all through college. I was lucky to have great musicians around me a lot and pointing me in the right direction.
I never had any music lessons but play many instruments well, from guitar, bass and drums, to violin, cello and piano. I seem to pick it up easily if I am interested in it unless I have to blow into it. I'm not very good at any wind instruments — no circular breathing. But strings and percussion come to me easily.
Do you have a preferred genre?
I got my start in breaks, and over the years I've dabbled in a wide variety of dance styles before ending up on the bass/tech/house side of things, but house music has always been the foundation of my journey.
Do you produce music?
I do produce but not for any label at the moment. I write on Ableton and FL Studio. You can find all my original tracks on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/DeeEmpty. My track "I Feel Everything" has been getting good responses. I have been asked to join a label but not one that fits yet. I am hoping to release some new tracks soon and maybe send a few around to see what happens.
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Are there any producers or DJs in particular who have your attention right now?
I really like Dirtybird Records and dig throughout their releases often and listen to the Birdhouse mixes to listen for new tracks. Billy Kenny and Ardalan are two of the artists I enjoy most on their label. I have been listening to Dirtybird since 2007, and now everybody knows who they are.
Where do you dig for tracks?
I frequent Beatport as far as stores go, but their charts don't necessarily reflect my tastes. I tend to discover more from listening to my favorite podcasts like Dirtybird, Claptone and Defected. Outside of that, just sharing tunes between my mates.
What gigs do you have coming up?
In the future, we have Not Another Halloween Party coming up the first weekend in November and every Wednesday at the Green Elephant, we do Drum Djam. Come be a part of the love.
"Do You Love" – Sven Lochenhoer
"Amazon" – Sven Lochenhoer
"Princess" – Justin Martin and Ardalan
"Don't Hate Me" – Will Clarke
"Us" – Kaskade and CID
"When a Fire Starts to Burn" – Disclosure
"On and On" – Sven Lochenhoer remix
"Doctor" – Danny Kolk
"Flight of the Pterodactyl" – Christian Martin
"Ya Kidding" – Fisher
"Dirty Cashe" – Whoami
"Lil Kitties" – Wood Holly
"13.Aw Damn" – MIDDATH
"14.Funkulate" – Sebastien V