Washington Charcopa is humble and zen, which is the exact opposite of his alter-ego, DJ Megalomaniac. In an environment where techno is once again topping the DJ charts and an increasing number of younger DJs are genre hopping over to techno every week, Charcopa is a bonafide veteran among the pack.
You can catch him Aug. 7 at his residency, Move at Beauty Bar. It's a weekday meeting point for DJs, promoters, dancers and fans and regularly features a who's who from the Dallas techno scene.
Charcopa's veteran deck chops are on full display with a two-hour mix that bumps, grinds, crawls and jacks the body in all the right places — a proper DJ journey from a well-seasoned techno veteran.
How long have you been in the DJ game, and what drew you in? Where did you get started?
I started playing when I was 14-15 years old. My mother’s younger brother owned a nightclub, and I would volunteer to go help clean up on Sundays just so I could be around the equipment. They had a Colombian DJ on Saturday nights, and he would leave his records in the DJ booth. I would go sweep the floors while I listened to his records and would play tracks by Celia Cruz, The Latin Brothers, Tito Puente and Hector Lavoe. I didn’t know the music well, but I loved the energy, so I was instantly hooked. I then started, like most people, playing and making mixtapes for my friends in my home town in New York. After about a year or so of going out to raves and clubs — whenever my fake ID would actually work — I was able to land my first monthly residency up in Oneonta, New York. It was an after-hours gig.
How did your Move night start? What is the motivation behind it?
Well it all started with one gig. DJ Bradlee asked me to play at Beauty Bar, and he was happy with the turnout and asked for me to return the following month. I don’t play parties much as I'm not really into being the star of the show. If I do, it's usually an opening or a short set. I decided to invite some friends and make Move about the music and not just a DJ. I had seen Ineka play for the Proton group at the Nothing But Techno parties at the old Crown and Harp. I loved her style, and I wanted to experiment with hybrid sets. I knew she would be a great match to do a back-to-back with.
Move has motivated me to continue to provide a platform for all of my underground friends to come and share their music with us. The party is about unity. I'm inviting DJs from every group in Dallas. After a year-plus, I still have a few more to get to. It’s not easy to do a weekday party and have people support every single one of them, but people like Move, and I believe it’s because of the unity it provides — besides the fantastic music. Move is the one place were our underground family comes together on a week day united as one. That in itself is my main motivation because together we are stronger.
What was the theme of the mix, and how was it made?
I was originally going to make a 60-minute mix of my favorite tech house and techno tracks of the moment. I somehow got lost in the mix and just completely forgot about the original intent. When I finally realized what I was doing, over two hours of mixing had gone by. I was using my Traktor D2 for this mix, so there are sections where I’m mixing up to four tracks at the same time with a bunch of effects. This mix is full of energy, and it really translates my style of DJing when I’m in my rocking mood.
How and why were you drawn toward hybrid sets?
I've heard hybrid Ableton Live sets for a long time. Back in New York at the old Sound Factory, Jonathan Peters was one of the first DJs I heard besides Sasha and his Ableton Live remixed sets. Although they weren’t totally hybrid sets, it was still the beginning of a new way of DJing. I was always curious to learn more about it but didn’t really like using Ableton for this. I then decided to get Maschine by Native Instruments, and that’s when I started to manipulate my sets. About three years ago, I watched Richie Hawtin in Amsterdam do his intense hybrid show, and it really connected with me. He has the DJ booth set at an angle that lets the audience see what and how he is doing it. That was an instant motivator to move along with the times or stay behind and be a simple jukebox.
How long have you been producing? What motivates you in that endeavor?
I’ve been doing it for about seven years. I started out making personal remixes and edits, as most people do. Most of the tracks that I've released under my artist name are on my own label, Fanatical Recordings. A big motivator to continue to produce is the feedback. Every now and then, I get feedback from random people whom I’ve never met. It’s really a great feeling when someone you’ve never come in contact with writes a quick thank-you note for something that you created. Knowing that you've affected their state of mind is an unexplainable feeling. Another motivator is the royalties. The productions under my artist name are higher than the ones that have been released as a ghost producer.
What is your relationship with techno, and what DJs or producers drew you in?
My relationship with techno is really special. I'm not your typical techno DJ. Some may not even consider me to be a techno DJ at all. This may be because I like all styles of techno and I play them all, even the new popular progressive tech house sound that Drumcode is releasing these days. You know, that big room techno sound that flirts with trance samples at times — I play it all. If played in the right setting at the right time, it’s all good in my eyes. Some of my heroes are Danny Tenaglia, Frankie Bones and Carl Cox. I've been listening to these guys for years. I was lucky to see them in New York. Frankie Bones is Brooklyn's best techno DJ in my opinion. I’ve seen him multiple times in various raves. Danny Tenaglia in places like the infamous Tunnel nightclub and Carl Cox at places like Twilo and Lime Light. These days, I’m really into Richie Hawtin's hybrid-only set and also really digging DJ Rush. On the electro side, I really like DJ Stingray. As for the ladies, I’m digging Nusha and Fatima Hajji.
How different was the New York scene you came up in from today’s dance scene?
Well for starters, there was no such thing as calling an extended set three hours long. That would have been laughable. If a DJ wasn’t playing six hours-plus, it wasn’t a DJ set. The only places you heard shorter sets were at raves, and even then the headliners would do three or four hours. I think people that go out today don’t really know what it is like to experience a mind-altering DJ journey. The times are different these days. We live in a time where our attention deficit is way shorter due to the rewiring of our brain from being connected to the internet. We want what we want now or we move on. We also find ourselves getting bored quickly. I’m guilty of it. If I don’t have effects to play with on a mixer, I find myself getting bored. On this mix, you will hear me constantly creating grooves and loops and playing with effects. So in conclusion, it’s very different, but it isn’t a bad thing. It’s still special in its own way overall.
Where do you like to dig for tracks?
I have labels whose pages I follow on YouTube. I go to those same labels often. Besides that, I’ll go through my old collections and look up some artist whom I've not seen or heard from in a while and see what they are up to. If they haven’t released anything, I then go to the suggestion area that the algorithm on Beatport shows me. I also pay attention to Facebook.
How often do you travel out of state to see shows that don’t come to our neck of the woods?
As much as I can. I'm about to head to Amsterdam for Loveland Festival. I'm super excited. I've never seen Jeff Mills in Europe. Usually DJs play really well in Europe for an unknown reason to me, so I’m so excited to go see him in mid-August. Last month, I went to New York for Open Air by Teksupport to see Carl Cox, Frankie Bones and a few others. I've got plans to do New York again for an Afterlife show and also Las Vegas for Elrow.
Dj Megalomaniac — "Toxic (Apocolyptic Mix)"
Umek — "Shadow Tactics (Popof Remix)"
ACTI — "Vicker T78 2018 Rework"
T78, Superstrobe — "Rattlor (2nd Mix)"
Patrick Esrever — "Because I (NoCure Remix)"
LowKey & Kardinal — "State of Hype (Kardinal rework)"
Kardinal — "Juggernaut (Original Mix)"
Kardinal featuring The Advent featuring Industrialyzer — "Coma"
Sisko Electrofanatik, Klaark — "Onium (Original Mix)"
Chicago Loop — "In My Mind (Aurelio Mendoza Remix)"
Adam Beyer & Bart Skils — "Your Mind (Original Mix)"
Cleric & Setaoc Mass — "Subconcious Life"
Autotune — "Blade Runner"
Avaloid — "Nematic"
Champas, Synthethik, Caesium — "GEAR (Caesium Remix)"
Kardinal — "Escape"
Get Serious — "A2"
Jusai — "KRSS (Gene Karz, Lesia Karz Remix)"
T78 — "Tri-Klops (Extended Mix)"
Jan Fleck — "Hexagon (Original Mix)"
Axel Karakasis — "Hold That Plane"
Pig&Dan — "Take Me"
Plastikman — "Spastik"
J Irai Dormir — "Chez Toi"
VII Circle — "Alpha (Farrago Remix)"
Alpha Particle Assembly — "Omega Accelerator"
SAMA — "Origin (Original Mix)"
SAMA — "Indifference (Original Mix)"
Arweenn — "Overrum (Anetha Remix)"
0010x0010 — "Alien Love Syndrome"
999999999 — "LOVE 4 RAVE"
Jonathan Peters — "Going Through It (Keys)"
Kardinal featuring The Advent featuring Industrialyzer — "Coma"
NoCure — "Invictus"