As a member of the Our House Crew, Jason Ramirez is a major cog in the Dallas house machine. With two decades of experience behind the decks, he brings a depth of knowledge to his mixes. Ramirez has had a front seat to the highs and lows of Dallas' DJ history, starting with the the rave boom of the mid-'90s and continuing all the way to the current scene. For this week's Dallas Observer mixtape, Ramirez blurs the line between techno and house by squeezing a diverse array of four-on-the-floor, from the dub techno of Basic Channel to the gospel-tinged tech of Floorpan and Tony Humphries.
Dallas Observer: How long have you been DJing?
Jason Ramirez: I started DJing somewhere around the 1995 to 1996 time frame, so of course I learned how to spin the old way with vinyl and beat matching. I was introduced to DJing by going to parties like Boom Bros., Hazy Daze and Purple Dimension. I was always amazed watching DJs back in the day. The DJ was usually on the floor with the crowd back then and doing a flawless mix where I never heard the record change, yet the DJ was taking off the record and beginning a new mix with another record. It was amazing to me to say the least. It was like a magic trick in a way, and like magic tricks, I wanted to learn how the trick worked.
How did you get started DJing yourself then?
I decided to give it a shot and decided to buy some decks at a small, local Dallas [place] and got some Technics 1200s and I believe a Vestex mixer. I bought about 10 records that a friend helped me pick out and I practiced with those records over and over until I started to figure things out. I definitely was a self-taught DJ, but as a DJ you really never stop learning if you play regularly.
What is your most memorable music moment of the past year as a DJ?
Opening up for Cle’ was definitely memorable for me. Anytime you get to play all vinyl for a packed house using the three decks, it is going to be memorable. The fact that you are opening up for your favorite local DJ growing up is cool within itself. On top of that, though, I got to play one of my all-time favorite vinyl tracks, which was really deep and the crowd was totally into it. The record I am speaking of is Norma G's "Son of Norma." If you don’t know this track, find it.
What is your relationship with house music?
Interesting question. When your influences are Spencer Kincy and Josh Wink, I think wareHOUSE music fits perfectly as their genre. They played a little bit of everything and I think I do too. I love house and techno and I am sticking to it. I can’t really define my style with one word except maybe the word "warehouse." I started listening to dance music in a warehouse and I still do today. So I would say we have a strong relationship still today. FYI – House music is short for [warehouse]. I am sure you know. If you didn’t, now you do.
How did Our House get started?
The idea and name came a few months before I was even in the picture. However, Johnny Leake and a few others started it out. We had quite a few people involved up until August in the Our House planning committee. However, it became Johnny Leake, Joshua Kynd and myself who actually planned all the Our House events from August 2014 until we decided to add Steven Inrocci recently. WOWO was the beginning of the Our House doing events, but the real kick off was the Doc Martin show.
Can you explain what WOWO is?
WOWO was an all vinyl Sunday event that was short lived due to weather, and our after-party events made it difficult to continue. WOWO, however, is just now returning due to the nice weather, on October 25 at On Premise in Deep Ellum, located next to Trees. We will be doing a monthly there for a while. Actually, WOWO is the fourth Sunday of the month.
So how did Our House evolve from there?
We started an after-party series and now are doing the mix-up editions for our local talent shows. We also do larger shows with DJs such as Doc Martin, Spettro, Hardkiss and Brett Johnson. We have several DJs that play for us on the regular and that are part of our crew that help make Our House parties happen, however, I must give a special thanks to Brian Knolley, Sal Gato, Matt Parks, Craig Howell, Sammy, Aiden and Heather for either helping with equipment, photos, venues, and/or working the party with us. Some of our other DJs are Joe Holmes, Handsome Robb, Matt P, mc Ettiquette and Samma Lone.
What is it like to put on events like those?
People don’t realize how much work goes into putting on events. It is tough work. I have great respect for anyone who throws parties. This is one of the main reasons we brought Steven aboard as a party planner. Every party is a gamble, too. We never know if we are going to even make our money back a lot of times ... We are definitely having a blast and the only reason Our House has worked to this day is because the three of us — Josh, Johnny and myself — 100 percent trust each other and we are like our own family. You have to be able to trust everyone in your crew for it to work.
Do you have a preference between vinyl and digital?
I play both but digital is cheaper. I love playing vinyl but it is not feasible in today’s world of technology. I have CDJ 2000s and three turntables so I just play both, but I do not have the recognition to read a song on a CDJ and know exactly what song it is like I do when I pick up a record. That is the one thing I wish I could figure out how to do with the digital world. I do not prefer controllers — but if you know me then you already know how I feel about that topic.
Where do you like to dig for tracks? Any specific websites or stores?
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I mainly shop digitally at Traxsource or Beatport. Vinyl, I do Josey Records locally for vinyl. If I am ordering vinyl online, I usually go to Discogs or Decks.de.
What is in your near future as a DJ and for Our House?
My future as a DJ is about support for Our House, but I am and have to be a promoter first. It’s always about what is best for the party or Our House as a whole. We have so much stuff coming up its hard to get it all or even remember it all. We have close to 10 events planned over the next three months. We have Johnny Fiasco on October 2 at Red Blood Club, DJ Duke on November 14th and NYE, and J Paul Ghetto Stereo on Strike Party at Red Light Lounge on November 28.
1. Aida – Onur Ozer
2. My Shine – Carl Craig Remix
3. Orange – Deetron
4. Tania - Riva Starr Remix
5. Smudge – Christopher
6. Hurricane – Sydney Charles
7. Glamaroma – Photek
8. AKA – Jan Hendez
9. A Case of Funk – Loco Dice Remix
10. Closed Area – Marcin Czubala Remix
11. Let Me Up – Marcus Vector
12. Late Nights Early Mornings – Lil Mark Remix
13. Phyllyps TraxII – Basic Channel
14. Never Grow Old – Floorplan
15. Through the Mist – Andrew Martin
16. Trust feat. Seth Troxler – Jamie Jones Remix
17. Can We Try feat Lady Linn – Deetron
18. L’Amour Distcontnuo – youandme remix
19. Confessions of a Dancer – Doorly
20. Choose one – Joeski, Harry Romero
21. Some More – Heston
22. Charlie Sez – Tony Humphries