Samuel L Waxin DJing from the Treehouse.
Samuel L Waxin DJing from the Treehouse.
JJ Garcia

Dallas Observer Mixtape with Samuel L Waxin from Tree House Collective

Samuel L Waxin is a regular face at Tree House Collective's Drum Djam every Wednesday, where he has nurtured his percussion and DJ decks approach to bass-driven tech house. With less than two decades behind the decks, Waxin has seen every side of the club music business, from video, lighting and promotion with his crew at Tree House Collective and of DJing. His diverse musical background goes far beyond club music with deep roots in classic rock, old school hip-hop and soul music, all of which informs Waxin's track selections for the dance floor. For this week's mixtape, Waxin brings it all together for a mixtape of deep funky tech house.

How did you get started DJing? How long have you been at it?
I started DJing in Y2K. I was working as a lighting tech at the Sand Bar in Deep Ellum where my friend Ryan Masterson was the bartender and music director. (The space it occupied just reopened as Ruins Bar Deep Ellum.) Back before cellphones and the internet, the only way to find out about the parties you absolutely had to attend after the club closed was to physically go to the bar and get the after-party flier. I would arrive before the crowd to get the lighting cues ready and then wait for the opening DJ. Sometimes they would be late or never show so eventually I started bringing music to play until they arrived. Some promoters liked it and others were annoyed by my learning to spin at their event. I started arriving earlier and earlier and playing more and more and got a feel for it. Less than a year later, I bought my Gemini tables from a neighbor and started down this long path.

What drew you into the culture?
In 1999 I met Ron Whitehead. He brought me into the culture by giving me a mixtape on a cassette titled Emotions by DJ Ahman. It was a hard trance mix with amazing vocals from Tracy Anne Lynch and tracks from DJs such as Prima. I listened to it on auto reverse until it wore out. A few months later Ron told me that we needed to have a “rave” that would be “just like that tape but live.” I had begun collecting interesting videos to play while we were listening to music at our friends’ house and he wanted me to borrow my parents' TVs from their house while they were away on vacation and bring them to a modeling studio in Deep Ellum across the street from Sand Bar. What could go wrong? In fact, everything went right. I had three outputs and four inputs on a radio shack switcher and I looped some cool tapes I had found and played The Mind’s Eye on VHS. (I might have had one DVD player then. Fancy.) The best part of that night was that he had booked Ahman to headline the party. It was the first time I heard a local DJ on tape and then got to book him. After that, I was hooked and spent the better part of two decades recreating that feeling.

How does your past experience with video (and lighting) inform DJing?
When I’m listening to a song or a mix, I am always thinking about when a hard cut or a smooth video transition would be best to accompany it. Or what lighting would go well with it. When the bass drops, I can see all the lights go out in my mind. It’s kinda second nature to me, like when you know when to start a track while mixing without having to count it out loud. I can’t wait until affordable software will allow a musician to write all aspects of a song in one simple application, from the midi and the instrument to the lights and video, all in one simple workflow.

How was this mix made? Is there a particular theme for the track selection?
I recorded this in my home studio in one take. It features some of the newer tracks I’ve found along with some I’ve been playing for a bit. I have live drumming from my Roland HandSonic in it, from the rainstick and bass drums in the first song to conga and djembe riffs during the mix. Sometimes, I use effects such as a phaser and reverb on them.

What other genres of music catch your ear outside of dance music? Does that music inform the club music you are drawn to as a DJ?
I grew up listening to classic rock, rap and a little metal. I used to get cassette tapes at garage sales of Marvin Gaye, Beastie Boys, Little Richard, AC/DC and GNR and listen to them at the pool when I was a little kid. Fast-forward to today and I look for songs with the same kinda funk and soul or rock influences that drove me to rewind a song and play it over and over again when I was younger. It can’t just be bass heavy; it has to have something melodic behind it, too. I have a whole set of classic rock remixes as house trax that I will play sometimes. If you get me drunk, I might even sing Led Zeppelin in front of more people than I ever would if I were sober. I might still be listening exclusively to music like that if I hadn't accidentally listened to the Hackers soundtrack during a long dental appointment when I was young. I was introduced to Orbital - Halcyon & On & On and I found something special. It was years later until I discovered more electronic music that I loved and now I don't listen to many mainstream top 40s artists anymore unless it’s in a house remix.

How did you get involved with Tree House Collective?
The Tree House Collective name grew from the big faux treehouse in my backyard. It was originally a tree in a Macy’s window display and as it was being removed, my landlord saw it and offered to take it home instead of it going to the dump. He transformed it into a tree house in the backyard for his kids and recently it was remodeled into a DJ booth by Brandon Rogness for us. What started out as backyard parties have grown to over a thousand people coming out to see the Tree House Collective on Wednesday nights at The Green Elephant.

Who are some of your biggest influences on your craft?
Working with John Walker every Tuesday night at The Elm Street Bar doing Staple was one of the greatest times in my life and he greatly influenced my style. I started liking slower music and began playing deep house and deep tech house. I probably wouldn't still be doing this without his guidance. He taught me that when you slow music down the extra time that is created can be filled with love.

What was your most significant musical experience of the past year?
Our Tree House Collective Fall Campout was absolutely great for me. I stressed and worried about it for weeks; I thought the weather would drench us or no one would come or we would have unwanted attention from the locals, but everything was amazing. I haven't ever had so much fun at an event that I was in charge of.

Is there a track that you always come back to as a DJ?
I heard John Walker play Odd Parents - Fame (Catz N Dogz & Martin Dawson Sweet Saturday Remix) at Get Lucky 4 and I still can’t get enough of it. Anytime I go deep, it somehow works its way into my set.

What gigs do you have coming up?
Every Wednesday night at midnight I take the Tree House Collective stage at The Green Elephant - Dallas Drum Djam, which begins at 9 p.m. The Tree House Collective is hosting a benefit show, All Ya Need is Love, for Misty Moore and Mama Carol on Nov. 25 at The Green Elephant. We are also thrilled to announce that Huda Hudia will be performing with us at Project Ai Dallas on Feb. 9, 2019. Last, but certainly not least, we will be holding our Tree House Collective Spring Campout April 26, 27 and 28, 2019.

Track List:
Justin Jay- Rain Dance
Wyatt Marshall, Fritz Carlton, River Magick - Waremouse (Original Mix)
Walker & Royce feat. Green Velvet - Rub Anotha Dub (J. Phlip Remix)
Valentino Khan - Lick It (Noizu Remix)
Erick Morillo, Jamie Jones feat. Gene Farris - Medication (Prok & Fitch Remix)
GAWP - Blocker
DJ Jurij feat. Harmon - People Are Still Having Sex (Future House Mix)
Ben Dragon feat Drake - Both
OMNOM - Fo Free
Galaxy Group - Outta Control (Asadinho Vocal Remix)
Green Velvet - Bigger Than Prince (The Martinez Brothers Remix)
OMNOM & Lucati feat. Fatt Mox- Goin Dumb
Mihalis Safras x Green Velvet - Poze
OMNOM - Know I’m Bad
Steve Darko - Turnip my Beets
The Count Of Monte Cristal - Cellphone (feat. Cactus) [Tom Symonds Remix]
Sacha Robotti - Plant The Seed

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