"My uncle was a big disco DJ in Austin back in the day," he says. "His record collection always fascinated me as a kid. I've always leaned toward electronic music as well. DJing was just the obvious next step to becoming a more integral part of the music I loved so much."
Now, with two decades of practice and experience under his belt, DJ Red Eye has a weekly gig at Barcadia, finds himself guest-DJing multiple parties, and has been doing a lot of production work. He's even working on remixes for acts such as Datarock, the Juan Maclean and Pointbender.
Check out his exclusive-to-DC9 mix, as well as a Q&A with him, after the jump.
How long have you been DJing for?
Professionally since 1990. So about 20 years... but I started dabbling in it about 1988 during the house and acid house era.
How did you get your start DJing?
I've always been around it. My uncle was a big disco DJ in Austin back in the day. His record collection always fascinated me as a kid. I've always leaned toward electronic music as well. DJing was just the obvious next step to becoming a more integral part of the music I loved so much.
What was your first gig like?
Odd...if you wanna call it a gig. I was hanging out in the booth of this club called Sparx. Ed, the DJ, just turns around and goes "Hey, play the next record, I'll be right back." He didn't come back for like an hour. That was my first taste of playing to a crowd. Total trial by fire. After that, I didn't really mess with it publicly until I started working with Jeff K on the original Edge Club. He took me in after I slid him a mixtape.
Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise?
There's always a hint of Depeche Mode in the things I produce/play. I like moody, spacey, sexy, minor key type stuff. As far as style influences there's everything from disco to punk, ska, dub, house and techno. I tend to have a lot of Pet Shop Boys synthetic orchestra moments as well. Everything I hear shapes my sound... whether its what to do, or what to never do.
Which DJs do you follow? Do you have a favorite?
I follow Laurent Garnier, Danny Tenaglia, Francios Kervorkian, Justin Martin, Carl Craig, Alexi Delano, Martyn, Red Light, Scuba. And although I hate trance, I enjoy listening to Paul Van Dyk play live. He does amazing things in the booth. I don't have a singular favorite, though. I like them all equally for different reasons.
What's your favorite genre of music, both to play and to listen to?
An umbrella term for it is "Bass Music." The reason it's called that is because the bass is the main attraction of the music. Instead of bass supporting the melody, the bass is the melody or key part of the song. It encompasses dubby, wobbly, wonky, techy, quirky, spaced-out elements while snatching Jamaican, African, and island vibes. It's major heavy in the UK right now and is pretty much runningmates with the dubstep community. Dubstep is kinda getting a bad rap right now because people don't know that the genre has so many different facets and angles to it. They're only hearing people play a really brash style of it the kids go bonkers for, which has been nicknamed "brostep" because of the dude factor of it. But there is a lot of well thought-out, melodic, amazing stuff out there if one looks a little deeper. I also love nu disco and techno. I will always be a house head, though.
How do you decide what songs you're going to play?
If it sucks, I don't play it. If it's on the radio or or generally mainstream I won't play it. Unless it's a cool indie band--they usually crank out some clever remixes
How much preparation goes into putting a set together?
None. I sort it out when I get there. You never know what kind of mood the crowd will be in.
What are your main objectives when it comes to playing music? (Are you looking to entertain the crowd, educate them, or something different altogether?)
I am of the opinion that you can educate and entertain at the same time with music. I seek out the musically adventurous. I don't think one should have to know every song that's played in order to have a good time. A lot of people, especially in Dallas, just need to shut up, open their minds, and give things a chance before dogging something because they don't know it. There's a whole world of music out there besides what Clear Channel is brainwashing them with. I think its my job to bring it to them. Trust the DJ.
What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play?
Cutting edge music. I am and will always be a journey DJ. I start at point A, and weave ups and downs in the set till it arrives at Z. Then I start over. I'll get deep and sexy, then bang it out a bit, then probably get a little weird, then rinse and repeat. Earth, Moon, Mars, then back to Earth. There wont be any radio/mainstream action or radio-rap. I refuse to go there. Real hip-hop is fine, but not that radio BS.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I use it all: vinyl, CDs, Serato, whatever suits the gig best. I'm not biased. I'm 99 percent digital, though.
Requests. Love em or hate em?
I am not a jukebox. I don't mind them if the person asking has a clue about what's going on, but sometimes its like people aren't even listening to what's coming out of the speakers. But the people that come to hear me know that I'm gonna play stuff they like and that they don't need to ask for anything... I got it under control. But there is always gonna be the Lady Gaga fan that wont quit bugging ya. I got asked for Counting Crows one time. I was like "Really? C'mon son." So I'm gonna go with hate 'em.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, whom would you play with and where would it be?
It would be in Paris, the UK or San Francisco. With Justin Martin, Scuba, Martyn, Depeche Mode, XX, Laurent Garnier, Audio Bully, Tackhead. And Horace Andy would emcee.
What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth?
I think the fact that I represent more than one side of music. A lot of cats only play one style day in and day out. I play Bass Music, indie rock, nu disco, techno, and house. It makes some folks uneasy, I think, because they like to know exactly what they're getting from DJs. But that's not my problem. A lot of DJs also are, oddly enough, not accepting of the new styles of music. They get stuck. I, on the flip, love when new styles pop up. Also, I think I bridge the older/younger gap pretty well. I try to stay young at heart with music. After all, it's the younger peeps that fuel this business, not the 45-year-olds.
When/where will you be playing next?
At Barcadia every Saturday, doing the electro/indie/retro thing. On May 7, Blixaboy and I are throwing a bass music party called Bass Junkies at the Lounge in Deep Ellum. Then the annual Diamond Deep boat party on May 8. Then PM lounge on the 13th,and the Ishi CD release party at Sons of Hermann hall on the 15th.
What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2010?
Loads of production from Blixaboy and Red Eye, and my Mos Def Leppard project, which I do with Terry Sims. A couple of remixes for Ishi, too, and some stuff on labels from Paris to UK to NYC. A remix for Datarock, the Juan Maclean, Pointbender... all kinds of stuff. It's gonna be a fun year!