Growing up, James Genova spent hours watching DJs spin at parties and clubs. He was just interested in the mechanics of playing music, and, soon after, he became determined to figure it out for himself. At the tender age of 16, James Genova (who DJs under his last name) took it upon himself to get behind the booth and spin at Sand Bar in Deep Ellum.
"I remember doing pretty good, but my hands were shaking and I played all the songs way too long," he says. "I will definitely never forget that night".
A decade later, Genova is undoubtedly more comfortable behind tables. Yet his determination to continue learning and improving is still very much alive.
"In my eyes, a DJ can never plateau," he says, "which makes me want to build my skills more and more."
Genova's curiosity and strive to always improve have landed him tons of gigs in and around town, and his next big one will be Thursday, August 5, at PM Lounge with Rio de Janeiro production/DJ duo, The Twelves. Catch him live there. And, in the meantime, check out "Shakedown," Genova's exclusive DC9er mix, while reading the rest of our Q&A after the jump.
How long have you been DJing for?
Over 10 years.
How did you get your start DJing?
I got into DJing after seeing DJs at clubs or parties. I started a little over 10 years ago when there weren't as many DJs as there are today. With the technology now, it's extremely easy and cheap to become a DJ. When I would see DJs playing, I wouldn't really party or dance, I would stand by the DJ and just watch them for hours. I was extremely interested in how everything worked from the first few times ever seeing a DJ live. I remember seeing a scratch live for the first time and I was completely blown away. Some things I do to always keep me pushing myself are going out and watching DJs that are better than me, and watching videos or DVDs of superstar DJs. After watching them, I always jump on the decks when I get home and try to mimic what I saw. In my eyes, a DJ can never plateau which makes me want to build my skills more and more.
What was your first gig like?
Oh man, haha! My first gig was at the Sand Bar in Deep Ellum when I was 16 years old. I had never played on a sound system bigger than what was in my room. I remember doing pretty good but my hands were shaking and I played all the songs way too long. I will definitely never forget that night.
Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise?
My influences range widely. DJ Qbert, DJ Craze, DJ Klever are some of the best "turntablist" around. They are masters of scratching and beat juggling and no one can really compare to them. Prefuse 73 is an electronic producer of IDM (intelligent dance music), and the way he puts together songs is like nothing I've heard before. It's very glitchy and abstract--for example, he chops up vocal samples of people singing or humming and changes the tempo and creates melodies, or simple things like the sound of an object hitting a wine glass, etc. Also Tom Morello, the guitarist from Rage Against The Machine. He pushes the boundaries of what a guitar can do and goes even further with it. I feel if more artists did that, then it would inspire them to also push the envelope. I'm also influenced by our local talent, seeing and hearing people like me making/playing music and grinding to be heard.
How would you describe your personal style?
I have a diverse style. I spin all kinds of music. I spin House, Electro, Nu Disco, Hip-Hop, Downtempo/Lounge, but my favorite style to spin right now is Funky House with great bass lines and smooth lyrics. I've also been coming across a lot of House music that is greatly influenced by Swing that is real fun and very crowd-pleasing
Which DJ's do you follow? Do you have a favorite?
My favorite right now is A-Trak. Favorite producer is The Twelves.
What's your favorite genre of music, both to play and to listen to?
My favorite style to spin right now is Funky House with great bass lines and smooth lyrics. To listen to I like Downtempo, IDM, and Indie Rock.
How do you decide what songs you're going to play?
I first see what kind of event it is and who else is on the bill. Then I'll throw a bunch of songs in a crate that I feel fits the event then I select songs based solely on how the crowd reacts to songs the other DJs have played or what I've been playing.
How much preparation goes into putting a set together?
I rarely put together a playlist for a gig. The reason I don't put a set together and play songs in order is because I try to read the crowd more than anything. So I choose tracks by the response I see from the crowd.
What are your main objectives when it comes to playing music? (Are you looking to entertain the crowd, educate them, or something different altogether?)
My main goal is to entertain the crowd while being somewhat experimental. Some DJs play whatever they want and don't care if the crowd likes it or not. And [it's important] for me to have fun also!
What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play?
Always fun tunes! I like to change up the genres while keeping a good flow. I love scratching.
What kind of equipment do you use?
Technic 1200s, Vestax mixer, Shure needles and Serato.
Requests. Love em or hate em?
I actually love requests, which I think is rare for a DJ. I get really excited when someone requests something that I really enjoy or was going to play anyway. The only thing I don't like is when someone requests a Hip Hop song when I'm spinning House music.
If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, whom would you play with and where would it be?
Armand Van Helden in Ibiza Spain.
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What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth?
I rarely see DJs scratch and I try to incorporate scratching into all of my sets
When/where will you be playing next?
I play all of Dallas and Denton all the time. The best way to find out when my next gig is, is to look on Facebook or Twitter (@Genova1). The next show that I'm extremely excited about is at PM Lounge with The Twelves on August 5th.
What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2010?
I'm going to start producing my own tracks.
1. Sonny Fodera - Ressurrection (Gramophonedzie Remix)
2. Jorge Watts - Who me?
3. Dom Martin - See the Light
4. Ian Pooley / Phil Fuldner - La Mania (David Herrero Remix)
5. Chris Harris - This is it
6. D-T3ch - Tested on Animals
7. Telonius - Hit me (Ian Pooley Main Mix)
8. Mowgli - We think it's cool
9. Funkabit - Miniova (Fare Soldi remix)
10 Moullinex - Superman
11. Jack Beats - Out of Body
12. Smalltown Djs - Autograph
13. Flight Facilities - Crave You Ft Giselle (Cassian Remix)
14. Robyn - Dancehall Queen