Dallas Observer Mixtape with DJ Culturegang: Chromatics, 808 State & More
Cameron Brand aka DJ Culturegang gets retro-not-retro on this week's Dallas Observer mixtape.
Cameron Brand has been active in Dallas music since the '90s. Mostly he's done time with bands like Blackheart Society, Bring in the Satellites, Apparatus and AT NIGHT. Nowadays he can usually be seen deejaying records from his collection as DJ Culturegang. A measured selector, he's eclectic enough to get booked for new wave nights at one venue and classic country at another. For this week's mixtape, Brand tackles a retro-not-retro vibe, which helps connect the dots between classic '80s and modern bands that take their cues from that classic decade.
Dallas Observer: How did you get started deejaying? How long have you been at it?
DJ Culturegang: I was very young and in my teens when I decided to get into deejaying. I was more of a break dancer at the time and was heavily influenced by early hip-hop, electro, funk and new wave. I saw all these guys back in the day scratching and mixing, so I went down to Radio Shack and bought the cheapest mixer I could afford. I had some god-awful turntables but hey, I was determined. So I guess the short answer to the question would be 30 something years.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
I was really torn on what I wanted to do and what I wanted to show people. I have such a vast catalog of music that I didn’t know if I wanted to go this way or that. I really went with the mood and showed a bit of diversity with some songs that possibly no one has heard. I really love music and try to keep an open mind about everything in the hopes of influencing or showing someone that it’s okay to break the mold. My mixes are generally composed of vinyl and digital depending on the rarity of the song, but there is no real magic to be honest. I think a true mixtape is the passion behind the songs.
Do you have a preference between playing live with a band or playing selections for people?
Playing in a band is, to me, top priority and always has been. Right now I have my band Pleasure Crisis and we are about to start playing live. You can check out our material on YouTube. I have been in various bands playing everything from psych rock, shoegaze, industrial and new wave. There is this part of me as a DJ that loves playing music that opens people’s minds up to new and uncharted territory.
Where do you like to dig for music?
Digging for music originally started with my friend Bill Wisener of Bill’s Records. I was 13 years old and had my mom drive me up from Sherman, Texas, to spend hours at Bill’s. I would dig for hours just to find that rare 12-inch mix and other rare things that you couldn’t buy anywhere else. Another one of my favorite record stores was Underground Records because they had all the metal albums. Today I will generally hit Josey Records or wait till the Double Wide Flea Market happens.
What releases have caught your ear recently?
I have been listening to a lot of Magazine and Pink Turns Blue, as well as a lot of synthwave stuff like Chromatics, Dance With the Dead, Gunship, VHS Dreams and my band, Pleasure Crisis [laughs]. Honestly, if I had to pick something that has been recently released I would say Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation but one of my favorite go-to psych rock albums is Jacco Gardner’s Cabinet of Curiosities.
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Do you have a record that almost never leaves your crate?
This could mean two things: One, an album I know will make people dance, or two, clear the floor [laughs]. ... It really all depends on what the night is, but if we are talking about me personally, I love all my techno albums from the early '80s and experimental stuff like Teeth of the Sea or electronic like John Foxx and the Maths.
What has been your most significant musical experience of the past year?
Nothing too major happened this year, but seeing Jello Biafra performing all the Dead Kennedys was truly amazing thanks to Kris Youmans, and also Christopher Todd Pen managed to pull off having Alice Cooper perform at Good Records. That was legendary and if you missed it shame on you. Oh wait, how can I forget? Kraftwerk in 3-D — enough said.
What upcoming DJ gigs do you have?
Brad Sigler aka DJ Dead Wax and myself, DJ Culturegang, have Damaged Goods which is our DJ company. At the moment we are doing Tuesday nights at Double Wide called Two-Stepping Tuesday (with John Hernandez). We are also deejaying at the Peter Hook after-party at Sundown with Joel Buchanan, DJ El Macho. ... I also DJ every Friday night in the Open Air Lounge of Panoptikon along with my good friend Byron Laszlo.
1. Majeure - Solar Maximum
2. Chromatics - At Your Door
3. Darkel - Be My Friend
4. Glass Candy - Digitl Versicolor
5. Sissy - Home
6. Kavinsky - Odd Look
7. Vitesse - Hunch
8. Nova - Planet Earth (Cover)
9. BIS - Silver Spoon
10. Vector Lovers - Crash Premonition
11. Illuminate - Tremora Del Terra
12. Johnny L - Ohh! I Like It (Original Sin Edit)
13. 808 State (Featuring UB40) - One In Ten
14. John Fox & The Maths - Watching The Building on Fire
15. BM Linx - American Royalty
16. Home Video - In A Submarine
17. Messiah - Thunderdome (Relaxation Mix)
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