Dallas Observer Mixtape with Justin Vaughan
courtesy Justin Vaughan

Dallas Observer Mixtape with Justin Vaughan

Justin Vaughan began deejaying in Dallas in the early aughts at Deep Ellum dance club Sandbar. These days, he's active with the party promotion group House of Champagne, which throws a popular rooftop party every weekend at Nora on Lower Greenville. Justin brings the House of Champagne vibe to this week's mixtape, which means a solid mix of bouncy, four-on-the-floor tunes.

How did you get started deejaying?
I started going to clubs around Dallas at the end of high school, 2000ish, and I was immediately hooked. As soon as I saw how DJs could literally control a dance floor and make people dance, I knew I had to be a part of it. I bought some turntables, a mixer that only had a master EQ, some records and started practicing nonstop. As soon as I built up the confidence, I got my first gig playing out — and the rest is history.

How was this mix made? Is there a theme?
I made this mix using a Pioneer XDJ rig. It’s a combination of some of my favorite producers and tracks at the moment. Although I enjoy a wide variety of genres, styles and moods, I decided to make this mix with the dance floor in mind. It's a nice little ride on the groovin', tech side of the house music spectrum.

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What crews have you rolled with over the years?
Man, I can't even remember the name of the first crew I was a part of. My first gigs were up at the old Sand Bar in Deep Ellum years ago. Thats where I cut my teeth and met a lot of DJs and friends that are still in the scene today. Over the years, I’ve been involved with a few different crews and promoters but stayed kind of independent for the most part. At the moment, I am part of The House of Champagne. It's a new collective with some of my very best friends that is gonna be doing some really big things in the scene here in Dallas.

What has been your most significant musical experience this year?
I’d say from a deejaying standpoint, it would be opening for Kristian Nairn, aka Hodor from Game of Thrones, at Lizard Lounge. The place was jam packed and full of energy. Definitely one of the best shows I've played in a while. But I would also say that all of my DJ gigs that I get to play or making this mix for you guys is very significant as well.

Which producers or DJs have your attention right now?
This list could probably go on for days. I'm a massive house-head, so a lot of the producers and DJs that have my attention are guys like Latmun, Max Chapman, Sidney Charles, Solardo, Fisher, Detlef, Skapes, Jamie Jones, Audiofly, Steve Lawler, Solomun, Andhim, Bengal and Matthias Tanzmann. Those are just a few off the top of my head.

I also really like a lot of bass music as well. Artists like Desert Dwellers, Opiuo, Tipper, Kursa, Koan Sound and Bassnectar are making some amazing music right now.

I also want to give a huge nod of respect to all the local artists here in Dallas as well. There are so many amazing DJs, producers and musicians here in this city that are constantly blowing me away.

How did you get into production? Do you have any favorite tracks of your own?
After a few years of deejaying, I realized that I wanted to learn how to produce my own music. It wasn’t until I applied to a program called the Red Bull Music Labs that I actually was able to pursue that dream. A few weeks later, I received a call from a guy named Lorin Aston (who I soon found out is Bassnectar) telling me I had been picked for the Dallas Red Bull Music Lab. During a weeklong crash course in music production, I learned the basic ins and outs of how to produce music in a program called Reason. A couple years later, I discovered Ableton Live, and that is what I work in currently.

I would honestly say that my favorite track that I have ever made was my remix of a track called “Weeping Willows” by Aligning Minds. It was the first track of mine that I actually felt comfortable sharing with people. It just felt good to finally get to that point where you finish a track that you are really proud of.

Where do you like to dig for tracks? In stores or online?
When it comes to music that I play in my sets, it's mostly just places like Beatport, Traxsource, SoundCloud, YouTube, etc. I find a lot of good music on Bandcamp, too. I’d love to get back to the days of going to record stores and getting lost for hours digging for vinyl. I really want to get a turntable so I can start collecting records and sampling old, rare stuff that is decades old.

What local DJ nights or gigs do you frequent?
I don’t get out much these days, with the exception of my own gigs or a random show here and there. I would have to say that my favorite club in Dallas is It’ll Do. I need to start venturing out more to support the local weekly nights, though.

What music gets your attention outside of dance music?
I love all kinds of music, really. I have a very diverse palate that spans from classic rock, '80s/'90s stuff, hip-hop and even quite a bit of pop. If it has a good beat or taps into your emotions, I'm all about it.

What gigs or releases do you have coming up?
As far as DJ gigs, I have been playing somewhat regularly up at The Rooftop at Nora on Greenville Avenue on Saturday and Sunday with the House of Champagne crew. We also have a very cool party on New Year's Eve with some great headliners and local talent.

I don't have any productions slated to be released at the moment, but I plan to hit the studio hard during the winter to finish up some new music. Follow me on Facebook and SoundCloud to find out where I’m playing and to stay updated on new music.

Track List
Alexis Raphael — "Black (Original Mix) / Roland Clark Divine Vocal a cappella"
Solardo — "Fall Down (MK Remix)"
Rich Wakely — "Pump Up the Noise (Original Mix)"
Waifs & Strays — "Darker (Original Mix)"
Sydney Blu — "Mind Games (Original Mix)"
Sidney Charles — "On and On (Original Mix) My House a cappella"
Latmun — "Footsteps feat. Amy Douglas (Original Mix)"
Max Chapman — "Work that Body (Original Mix)/ Sneak's Funky Rhythm Tool"
The Golden Boy — "Info (Original Mix)"
PAX — "Psychonaut (Original Mix) / Joe Rogan DMT Vocal Tool"
C.O.Z — "Distortion (Original Mix)"
Green Velvet, Shiba San — "Fearless (Original Mix)"
Eli Brown — "3AM (Original Mix)"

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