DC9er Mixtape, Vol. 1: Tony Schwa

With endless amounts of downloadable mp3s stacking up on trendy well-clicked blogs and DJ equipment only a tab away on Amazon, it seems everyone and their cousins' cousins can be, and , well, is a "DJ" these days.

But there's just a certain something, a je ne sais quoi--call it skill, call it mind-blowingly good taste in music or just call it charisma--required to spark a crowd. Whatever you call it, some DJ's names happen to pop up on fliers or get more airtime than others. So, whether they're clicking through a playlist in a bar on Greenville Avenue or scratching live on the air, each week, DC9er will bring you a behind the booth Q & A with a different area DJ. Also, in addition, each DJ will provide us with an mP3 mix of no less than 9 songs that give you a taste of their own personal style.

Read, listen and find out what makes them unique and sets them apart from every other DJ in town. Maybe even download the mix, burn it and pop it in your car as you get ready to head out this weekend.

And find out what keeps us moving.

This week's first-ever DC9er Mixtape (the series will return each Friday afternoon) features DJ Schwa--aka Tony Schwa--who you can find upstairs at the Cavern every Monday for Cool Out and each third Thursday of the month at PM Lounge.

[Note: Full tracklisting posted at the bottom of the Q&A.]

How long have you been DJing for?
I've been Djing for about 11 years.

How'd you get your start?
I started DJing because I wasn't impressed with most local DJs I was hearing at the time. I kept up with a lot of bigger, international DJs and the variety of music that was being played overseas, and I didn't feel like there was any diversity in the scene at the time. I felt (and still feel) that if I want to hear something in the club, then it's up to me to play it.

What was your first gig like?
I remember it being really fun, actually. It was in a really small bar/lounge in Orlando called the Bhoddisatva Social Club. I invited pretty much everyone I knew at the time (including my parents) and played house and disco records (yes, records) all night.

Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise?
My Father and older brother were easily the biggest influences on me growing up as far as sparking my interest in record albums, DJing, my music preferences and the whole culture/mentality behind it all.

Which DJs do you follow? Do you have a favorite?
I don't really follow any DJs anymore. I used to listen to a lot of older Chicago DJs back when I started taking my DJing seriously. Guys like Boo Williams, Sadar, Francois K, etc., have all been doing this for years and make it look so easy. I wanted to get to their level of mixing and music programming.

What's your favorite genre of music--both to play and to listen to?
I'm a disco head, no doubt. My father used to own a record store that sold disco and salsa records, so I've always had that in my blood. That and early '80s boogie are what I was raised on. I do, however, have a soft spot for leather disco and yacht rock--which is what my DC9er mix primarily consists of.

How do you decide what songs you're going to play?
I feel that the songs I play have to have a groove element to them. If it gets my head bobbin', then I'll play it.
How much preparation goes into putting a set together?
That depends on the party...I mean, for Cool Out, I'll just play what I want depending on the crowd or how I feel. But If I'm asked to play a special set somewhere, I'll spend a few hours organizing a coherent playlist.

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 always try to do both. I want the crowd to enjoy my selection but I don't really need them to be singing along with every tune. I'm afraid too many DJs are wearing out the classics that way--by overplaying the same songs. Honestly, anyone can make a crowd of drunk people dance. Top 40s, a little MJ, maybe some Biggie--that's easy. Easier isn't always better. You gotta take risks as a DJ. That's what will make your set memorable.

What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play?
Hopefully something they've never heard before! I love when I meet someone who's hearing me play for the first time and they're just so inspired and excited to be hearing a DJ mixing disco/boogie tunes they're not familiar with.

What kind of equipment do you use?
I prefer Technics turntables, but you don't always get what you want, so I'll use whatever I have to get the desired effect.

Requests. Love em or hate em?
Hate 'em!! I've always said "all requests must be written on a $20 bill." Even then, that doesn't guarantee I'll play it!

If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, whom would you play with and where would it be?
I'd love to play in Italy or Paris where the disco/boogie scene is alive and thriving. As for who I'd like to play with...Dimitri From Paris or Dam Funk

What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth?
I think my selection for the most part. There are other DJs in town playing disco and funk in their sets, but I'd like to think I'm the only one consistently playing "new" disco/boogie tunes on a weekly basis.

What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2010?
Expect more mixes! It's been years since I've released any mixes before this one, so I guess it's way overdue...

DC9er, Vol. 1 tracklist:

1. Atlanta Rhythm Section -- "So Into You (Afro Jackson Edit)"

2. Liquid Mask -- "Just a moment"

3. Peter Brown -- "The Singer's Become The Dancer"

4. Ben E. King -- "Street Tough"

5. Carly Simon -- "Why (Extended Mix)

6. Phil Collins -- "I'm Not Moving (Idjut Boys Edit)"

7. Unknown

8. Gonzales -- "Let It Lay"

9. Fleetwood Mac -- "Keep on going (Cosmo Vitelli Edit)