Dallas Observer Mixtape with Urbanic: Tom Trago, Brett Johnson & More
Urban serving up a deep mix
Matthew "Urbanic" Urban is an Ohio ex-pat who followed a winding path that led him to Dallas. Appropriately, then, Urban's contribution for this week's mixtape is all over the place genre wise, more than just a string of tunes with similar beats per minute. There is an emotional depth conveyed that makes the mix come off a bit more personal. Urban manages to even include an audio shout-out to Dallas by way of the Brett Johnson track "Breath."
Dallas Observer: How did you get started DJing? How long have you been at it?
Urbanic: I started going to clubs and events featuring electronic music along with some friends in my hometown of Akron, Ohio, in the mid '90s. We would travel all over Ohio and drive as far as Chicago or Toronto for the right show. I was always up front watching the DJs, trying to figure out what they were doing to make those incredible sounds. I bought my first pair of used Technics 1200s in 1997 and worked it until I received my first paying gig in 1998 at a little dive bar near the University of Akron, The Lazy Gator, where resident DJ Zachariah graciously gave me a shot.
How did you start getting involved with Dallas DJ culture?
Wild story, but I met Phil Hardwick (DJ Hutch) outside of a party up in Toronto; the show was sold out and my friend Bill Rose and I couldn’t get in after a five-hour drive from Ohio. Phil was passing out fliers for an after-party at Industry, so he invited us to join him after helping him pass out fliers. We were then treated to an amazing evening with Derrick Carter and Honey Dijon! I stayed in touch with Phil, and eventually came down to Dallas to play at a couple 32 Degrees shows; feeling like part of the family, I decided to join 32 degrees and move to Dallas in 2000.
Did you stick around?
I moved back to Ohio to finish up college. When I later received a job offer in Dallas in 2008, I was happy to move back, but it wasn’t until I went to the Our House production in May 2014, featuring Doc Martin, that my love for house music and DJing was rekindled.
How was this mix made?
I recorded this mix from a pair of Pioneer XDJ-1000s through an Allen & Heath Xone 92 mixer in my home studio. I jumped from vinyl-only to a digital format just over a year ago. I still love vinyl, but for a studio mix I like to keep the signal uniform and either do all vinyl or all digital.
Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
This is an eclectic mix in order to provide a diverse sample of my musical tastes, going from alternative R&B, house and techno in the first part, then dropping down the BPM to some slow-burning house and downtempo to finish things off.
What is your relationship with house music?
Doc Martin’s United DJs of America, Vol. 5: West Coast mix is what really grabbed me and kindled my love for house music; Doc is still making the magic happen and continues to be my biggest influence. House music, especially as it is curated and mixed by certain DJs, has the unique ability to take me to a place of healing joy — an incomparable communal experience on the dance floor, which I strive to create for those who I have the honor of playing for. I recently began producing house and have really caught the bug; Chris Lund has been a huge help teaching me about production and getting my tracks to sound good.
What other genres do you enjoy spinning?
Other than house and techno, I dabble with drum and bass, disco, soul and downtempo.
Where do you like to dig for new tracks?
Beatport, Soundcloud, Josey Records, Traxsource, Youtube, Juno Records, Band Camp, Shazam. Always be digging.
What was the most profound musical experience you have had in the past year?
I was in Detroit last year for the Movement Electronic Music Festival and I went to an after-party to see Doc. Well, after Doc played, I was thankfully introduced to the genius that is Tom Trago. He played an eclectic range of music, changing between genres masterfully and I was just hanging on every mix, curious as to what he’d play next. That night with Tom has stuck with me in an influential way.
What gigs do you have in the near future?
I'm looking forward to playing Jasmine and Socially Correct’s Deep Inside event at the Crown & Harp on March 18. It’s a great honor to open up for Dallas’ own house legend, Demarkus Lewis. Jasmine’s events are always for the dancers and March 18 will be no exception.
1. Kelela - Cherry Coffee
2. Tom Trago - Hidden Heart of Gold
3. Subb-an - What I Do (Tom Trago’s “In Good Hands” Remix)
4. Shaun J. Wright - Matters of the Heart (The Black Madonna Remix)
5. Jimmy Edgar - Burn
6. Surgeon - Zilla
7. Brett Johnson - Breathe
8. Chad Mitchell - I Surrender (AE’s Frisco Disco Dub)
9. Kraak & Smaak - My Mind’s Made Up
10. Hubbabubbaklubb - Mopedbart
11. Shur-I-Kan - One Ten
12. Jimmy Edgar - Bthere
13. Soul Minority - Down the Road
14. Easy to Remember - Like a Bourbon In the Basement
15. Lauer - Hump Acid (Lexx Remix)
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