Jonathan Graham has been a staple of local music since his teens, under his alias DJG. Graham had a long-running residency at Hailey's infamous ’80s night. He's a family man these days, but still manages to get out and play special events and guest slots.
Graham is known for pulling out not just obscure tunes, but those classics that you almost forgot you knew. Graham covers a lot of ground, from techno to jazz. For this week's mixtape, Graham delivered a special mix of atmospheric horror music just in time for Halloween.
Dallas Observer: Tell me about your past residencies and inspirations.
Graham: For the most part of the 2000s you could hear me playing ’80s dance tracks up in Denton at the now defunct Hailey’s club every single Thursday night. I covered everything from top 40s new wave to industrial dance to Italo and Garage disco, which I was obsessed with at the time. I’ve had steady nights at The Cavern, which is now Crown & Harp. Now that I think about it, some of my other residencies have been in venues that have now folded: Rubber Gloves, Fallout Lounge, Amsterdam Bar. As my tastes are broad, I’ve enjoyed nights and events playing diverse sounds. I was initially inspired by my older brother who used to have DJ residencies in Dallas in the ’90s, playing house music. Other early influences would be Jeff K and Jeff Schroer on KNON in the late ’80s. They would play alternative dance music and sounds that legendary DJ Mike DuPreist would play at Starck Club.
What is your relationship with Dallas DJ culture?
Not sure I have a relationship really. I go out sometimes and support friends when I can. In terms of being a DJ, I’m somewhat estranged. That’s a self-imposed exile, really. Less is more these days. Sharing music with others will always be a joy. But hustling a night can be such a chore at this point in my life. I respect people who can find the sustainability to play more regularly. I sometimes reflect on how lucky I was to ride a wave at a perfect point in time in the past.
How was this mix made and was there a concept behind it?
It should probably go down that this not a “dance music mix.” Atmospheric synth horror for the Halloween season. Leaning on a modular synth, very heavy John Carpenter-inspired tracks. Tediously repetitive sounds that are, let me stress: non-dancey. Soundtrack cuts that aren’t dancey, with the themes punctuated with some slow burning epics that should stand on their own. I am pleased to feature some house and techno artists that one may not expect in this format. This may not be everyone’s idea of Halloween music. More like melancholic dread. I’m lamenting the absence of a cooler season and fantasizing about colder places with this mix here. The equipment I used was a Technics 1200, Pioneer XDJ 700 CDJ, laptop.
Where do you like to dig or research for tracks?
Pacific Beach in San Diego and All Day Records in NC for self selected new domestic vinyl. Josey Records for new and used surprises. I still search blogs for weird esoteric stuff.
What new music has been catching your ear as of late?
That new Forma is pretty cool. Heinrich Dressel is featured heavily here for a reason. I also want to plug Giallo Disco records, as the owners are also in this mix. I’ve been enjoying the sounds. You could guess I follow Legowelt and his alias pretty closely.
Are there any classic tunes that you have rediscovered lately?
I’ve recently reunited with Labradford. They were a close personal favorite. If you hung out with me in the ’90s or heard the bands and outfits I was in, you knew I was obsessed with them.
You are known for being somewhat versatile genre-wise. Are there any particular genre or concepts that you would like to play more of?
I’ve always wanted to have a jazz night. Something in the tradition of Gilles Peterson and Dingwalls where people actually dance to Art Blakey and Lonnie Liston Smith. I would be satisfied just playing at a bar or a lounge where I can stretch out and not worry about fitting someone’s predetermined style or selling drinks. I actually got let go from my last residency from playing too much hard bop and samba. At home I tend to listen to softer atmospheric things and always find myself playing slower and moodier when I am on a bill. (This mix will testify.) I tend to not be as interested in making people dance as much anymore as painting with ambient sound and shifting rhythms.
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What has been the most profound music experience you have had in the past year? How has that experience affected you as DJ?
Aside from Kraftwerk, which we can all agree was a revelation, I would say that seeing John Carpenter perform his music at the Dallas Majestic Theater. Hearing the tracks and scores live along with edited images from their respective films made for an intense, unforgettable experience.
1. Charles Wain - End titles (Last Wave OST)
2. Moore/Majeure - Dawn of Primordial Life
3. Antoni Maiovvi -Skin (Yellow OST)
4. Muslimgauze - Milena Jesenka
5. Steve Roach - Ritual Continues
6. Anthony Rother - Elixir of Life part ii
7. Heinrich Dressel - Wind Sighs down the Reef
8. John Carpenter - Robots at the Factory (Season of the Witch OST)
9. Francesco Clemente - Adriana e Leonora
10. Smackos - Preparations at Moosely Bay
11. Tim Krog - Gloom (Boogey Man OST)
12. Claudio Simonetti - Bloody Coins (Versace Murder OST)
13. Heinrich Dressel - Back to Ripa Grande
14. Tim Krog - Jake theme/Boogey Makes Strikes (Boogey Man OST)
15. Heinrich Dressel - Dawn from the top of the Hill
16. Sammy Osmo - Radar Bol
17. John Carpenter - Darkness Begins (Prince of Darkness OST)
18. Larry Heard - Faint Object Detection
19. Vercetti Technicolor - Tema di Kristin
20. Tangerine Dream - Charly the Kid (extended dub)
21. Dopplereffekt - Z-Boson
22. Harold Budd - The Room
23. TX Connect - Antonio Bay (unreleased mix)
24. Albert Kuningas - Pori 1969
25. Anthony Rother - Elixir of Life part ix