DFW Music News

Dallas Observer Mixtape with Chris Houlihan

Chris Houlihan
Chris Houlihan Scott McWilliams
Chris Houlihan has been working as a DJ in Dallas since the '90s. House music is a staple of his sets, and he explores all of its many subgenres, from the techy side to more old-school sounds. Houlihan just wrapped up a successful run at the Ivy, where he hosted a who's who of Dallas house DJs every Sunday. For this week's mixtape, Houlihan leans into his progressive roots, resulting in a dreamy, four-on-the-floor toe tapper.

How did you get started deejaying?
I used to buy literally every lounge and downtempo mixed CD I could to play during my day job. I hated all the commercial radio options, and of course this started in '93, long before streaming radio or SoundCloud. Eventually, I still was picking and choosing parts from the CDs and went ahead and bought a basic setup at Guitar Center and began making my own compilations. Soon after that, a friend brought over his turntable, and I used my existing one with that basic mixer I bought and started trying to mix records together. I was hooked on that process from that point on.

How was this mix made? Is there a theme?
This mix was done with two Pioneer CDJ 2000 NXS2s and a Pioneer DJM 800 mixer recorded into a Tascam DR-100 recorder. I had a hard time deciding what to play for this mix, as when I play out, I do a variety of different shows, from old-school house to tech house, techno, deep house. ... But my roots have always really been in that darker progressive house vein, so I decided to pull a selection of tracks form a lot of the artists I have been buying a good deal of music from lately.

Which crews have you rolled with over the years?
I've basically been a bit of a loner deejaying, as I have always first and foremost considered this a passionate hobby rather than a commercial enterprise. However, when I first got started, I began playing guest spots with Willie Trimmer's 12" Pimps at various spots in Dallas. After that, I met Francisco Castillo and played a regular Thursday gig called Tech Specialists. I still very much enjoy playing with Frankie to this day.

What was your most significant musical experience this year?
I was in Europe a good bit this last year, and I have to say the super clubs in Berlin were pretty mind blowing, and the magic of Ibiza, a place I haven't been in 10 years, is still there even though the island has changed considerably. I also made my maiden trip to Fabric in London in September.

Which producers or DJs have your attention right now?
So many of them. I included as many as I could cram on my 90-minute mix. The three DJs that I like the most in terms of just sheer track selection and storytelling are Hernan Cattaneo, Nick Warren and John Digweed. Producers I am all over these days include Michal A, GMJ, Matter, Petar Dundov, Chicola, Guy J, Khen, Kollective Turmstrasse and Li Polymer, to name a few.

Where do you like to dig for tracks? Online or in stores?
Boy, back in the day, I used to live for my Mondays off to go to Oak Lawn Records and Tower. But now it's pretty much a digital thing for me. Beatport, of course, and SoundCloud, mostly. I do still collect old lounge and trip hop vinyl through various online record shops.

What local DJ nights or gigs do you frequent?
I don't go out too much in Dallas, as I tend to save it up for when I travel, but I definitely hit up It'll Do pretty frequently and Beauty Bar on occasion as well. I'm also a fan of Off the Record on certain nights, and my guilty pleasure is the Church Sundays.

Which genres get your attention, outside of dance?
Oh man, I love industrial, new wave, all the darker '80s stuff. I love early '90s trip hop and a lot of the downtempo artists like Kruder & Dorfmeister and Thievery Corp.

What gigs or releases do you have coming up?
I just concluded a really fantastic run on the Terrace at the Ivy Lounge for the season, but we are talking about doing something indoors or possibly over at their sister bar, the Windmill, once the weather finally is cold. I'm really excited about some upcoming work I have scheduled at the newly reopened Statler Hotel. I'll be making that official announcement very soon, but it should be a perfect fit for me and for that hospitality group. Stay tuned!

1. Beat Syndrome — "Magnolia (Lonya & Maydan Remix)"
2. Andy Forbes — "In Search of Eternal Happiness (Andrew Sobota Remix)"
3. Denis A — "Heroin (Scotty A Remix)"
4. Cid Inc. — "Shake Before Use (Ezequiel Arias Space Mix)"
5. Cornucopia — "The Story of Us (Original Mix)"
6. Upercent — "Pulsacions (Nick Warren Remix)"
7. Fog, Arara — "Ross Beef (Uone Remix)"
8. Guy Gerber — "Timing (Kollektiv Turmstrasse Remix)"
9. Miitrinique, Madloch — "Colorshock (Paul Hazendonk's Manual Remix)"
10. Cid Inc. — "Shifter"
11. Pedro Aguiar — "Ego Tripping (Guy J Remix)"
12. Henry Saiz, Cora Novoa — "Golden Dawn (Brynjolfur Dream Mix)"
13. Lucas Rossi — "Without Looking Back (GMJ Remix)"
14. Michael A — "Refraction (Matter Remix)"
15. B. Traits — "North Shore (Original Mix)"
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Wanz Dover
Contact: Wanz Dover