Joe Castillo is a seasoned vet who cut his teeth when disco was a new thing and Radio Shack existed. Although Castillo is best known for house music, his knowledge reaches into a multitude of niche genres, from country to drum and bass. These days, he can be seen playing around town in the musical trio Dirty Groovz. For this week's mixtape, Castillo provides a raw, funky, melodic mix that leans heavily on the tougher side of house.
How did you get started deejaying?
I started learning the art in 1977 after going to my first discotheque in San Antonio, Texas. I was 14 years old. The place was packed, and the only place to observe was next to the DJ booth, which was in the middle of the dance floor. I was amazed by what the DJ was doing and the response from the crowd. Granted, there was a lot of bad mixing going on with a few seamless ones. I was hooked, and I wanted to learn. So my brother and I bought a couple of unreliable belt-driven turntables, I think Realistic [RadioShack] and some disco 12-inches.
Let the train wrecks begin. It took about six months to get my first seamless mix. Thank God, because [I] was about to give up or my parents may have disowned me. After that, it was game on. School parties, then clubs, and the rest is history.
How has your approach to the craft changed since the earlier days of your career?
I have to say, I love the technology these day, minus the synch button. The tools offered today can be a tremendous help if used correctly. By the way, I think that all DJs should learn how to play on turntable first and learn the true art of mixing records. There is nothing more satisfying than seamlessly blending two records together and your crowd not even knowing that you’ve changed songs.
How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
It was made with today’s technology but without all the button pushing, just good, old-fashioned mixing. I wanted to put together a mix of house music for club heads. You’ll hear a touch of old-school underground, some new stuff, some a little dark and haunting, but everything for your soul. Hope you enjoy the mix.
Where do you like to dig for tracks?
All over the world. I use the Googler to find new sites to shop and ... I just like saying Googler. Josey Records is my fave now. I check out the usual suspects like Traxsource and Beatport, but there was this site called Afrodisiac that had rare groove, afro house, disco edits and stuff.
What do you have happening on the production front?
I've been producing about 25 years. Something’s coming soon with my new band, Dirty Groovz. My bandmate in that band and I did about five records more on the house side of things. I work with Medrick Greely on drums and Face on keys and horn. I play decks and electronic percussion.
We have been playing out at Common Table and Sambuca in Uptown. We touch on everything from drum and bass to acid jazz to house. It’s comforting to have a band around you as a DJ to elevate the experience and explore new musical places that the crowd may not expect. It has been well received.
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What was your most significant musical experience of the past year?
Kraftwerk at the Bomb Factory brought it all back for me. Numbers was my favorite track from them. It made me happy to see [the] younger generation getting excited about what I loved from back in the day.
Is there a track that you always come back to as a DJ?
There are a few depending on the venue I’m playing. Frankie Knuckles' "The Whistle Song" will always be around. R.I.P. Frankie.
What gigs or releases do you have coming up?
You can catch my band, Dirty Groovz, at Deep Ellum Art Co. [on] Sept. 23, Sambuca Uptown [on] Sept. 28, at The Common Table [on] Sept. 30. Always looking for more gigs, just sayin’.
Green Velvet and Riva Star — "Robots (Weiss Remix)"
Bronx Cheer — "Generation Gap (Deep Mix)"
Jey Kurmis — "Caz She Can"
Dittrich — "Yourself (Original Mix)"
Josh Butler — "Got A Feeling (Bontan Remix)"
Mario Cruz and Jessie Brooks — "Good & Bad (Deepshakerz Remix)"
Warakis — "Toi (Original Mix)"
MD X-Press — "God Made Me Phunky (Franky Rizardo Remix)"
DJ Jeroenski — "Ayaa (Robbie Taylor & Benny Royal Remix)"
Powerdance — "The Lost Art of Getting Down"
Derrick Carter — "Mr. Big Hat"
Anthony Piacquaudio — "Flooty (Nicole Moudaber Remix)"