Three years ago, Hunter Vaughan was just your average 17-year-old raver who frequented Dallas' nightclubs (when permitted inside) with the sole objective of having a good time.
As Vaughan became more aware of the scene around him, though, he started keeping his eyes and ears out for local resident DJs, drawing inspiration from their sets.
"I decided I wanted in on the fun so I downloaded a cracked copy of Traktor and began messing with tunes and making little mash-ups," Vaughan says.
A few years have passed since Vaughan's raver days, and it's safe to say that he has graduated from casually messing around on DJ computer software to actual DJ status.
2010 has been a big year from the DJ, too, what with a slot at Electric Daisy Carnival, winning the Dandy Kid Record's Remix Competition, and playing Meltdown. And Vaughan says he has no intentions of slowing down. Check out his exclusive DC9er Mix after the jump, as well as our full Q&A with this promising young DJ.
For how long have you been DJing?
Three going on fours years now.
What was your first gig like?
Pretty average, nothing rockstar-ish. Just an early side-room gig at Afterlife. I was asked to come back next week so I think I did something right.
Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise?
I think the '80s had some of the coolest music around. I'm always blown away by the sounds of Depeche Mode [and] Tears For Fears. As for my more modern taste, I have always favored/followed acts like Deftones, Tool, The Prodigy, The Mars Volta, Gorillaz, A Perfect Circle and anything else leaning towards the deeper/grungier stuff. Also, Dallas' own Chris Lund (a.k.a. Left/Right) has been a big inspiration to me recently with his undeniable skills in the studio, and for being and all-around nice guy. Not to mention shoutouts to DJ Redeye, Jeremy Word, 4Peace, and lastly, DJ Titan who have all given me excellent help and advice for when things get tricky while staying true and professional.
How would you describe your personal style?
Remember the three Ds: Deep, Dark & Dirty. (In no particular order).
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Which DJ's do you follow? Do you have a favorite?
Zodiac Cartel, Elite Force, Calvertron, Defunct!, Wolfgang Gartner, Frederik Mooij, The Loops Of Fury, Mike Hulme, Jesse Rose, Hijack, Tom EQ -- General Zod being my main squeeze.
What's your favorite genre of music, both to play and to listen to?
Since I began DJing, the chopped up, jackin', wobbly and gritty sounds of fidget house always rubbed me the right way, and I usually find myself delivering that to the dance floor. When I'm home taking a break from clubland, I like to jam to some of the deeper, abstract EDM/downtempo stuff like Telefon Tel Aviv, How To Destroy Angels, PantyRaid or the Gorillaz. Deep House is something else I really enjoy listening to and playing as well on those chill bar night gigs. Also, I could listen to the Donnie Darko soundtrack till the end of time. And the new Hannah Montana CD is dope.
How do you decide what songs you're going to play?
Location is the first thing I factor in, then the time of night. After considering this, my mood is another factor on top of how the audience is feeling as well.
How much preparation goes into putting a set together?
When it comes to sitting down, digging for music, and programming proper arrangements within a mix, it can take me a couple of days till I am really pleased with the layout. When I'm not being too detailed, I generally pick and choose based off of previous experiences and responses from previously played tracks. I blend that with mixes I've recently discovered or have practiced that I like, and do a little more blending within the two concepts. All my music is labeled by BPM and key, which helps me build/release energy based on tempo and harmonics.
What are your main objectives when it comes to playing music? (Are you looking to entertain the crowd, educate them, or something different altogether?)
I know that, when I go out to an event, I always lean to the DJ playing the more original stuff I had never heard, and/or dropping old classics in new and exciting ways. I always have an eye out for new releases and almost always purchase my tunes online in .WAV format, so expect some quality music in optimal sound quality.
What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play?
Maximum bass. I like to fuse the elements of House, Techno, Electro, Breaks and Dub while remaining on the darker side of things. I layer a lot of vocal shots and production samples throughout my sets to keep things interesting and on the lively side. You can expect a ton of unreleased/exclusive tracks, edits, re-vamps and other ear goodies as well. Plus a lot of Jesus poses.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I rock Traktor Pro with control disks for CDJs plus an M-Audio Trigger Finger that triggers effects, loops, cue points and other parameters within Traktor. I've never owned any CDJs/turntables to be honest! I usually have to borrow friend's gear if I want to record a mix. For production, I use Ableton exclusively as well as soft synths like Massive and Vanguard.
Requests. Love 'em or hate 'em?
I don't mind if you ask me to play a tune, but if you hear me dropping gritty bangers all night, don't expect your Lady Gaga remix to be played. To be honest, I probably won't have the tune you request anyway!
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If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, whom would you play with and where would it be?
Definitely with the U&A crew. That's Elite Force/Zodiac Cartel, Rektchordz, Mike Hulme, The Loops Of Fury plus a handful of others. DJing with these guys somewhere like Burning Man, Bonnaroo, or Coachella would be a dream come true.
What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth?
I try to push the DJ envelope a bit more than just your standard mixing two records at the same speed. Utilizing Traktor plus a side of controllerism enables me to do much more, like up to four-deck capability, on-the-fly sampling and firing off loops and one shots keeping the audience's interest peaked and ultimately making DJing a lot more fun. I aim my productions to be quality over quantity ensuring solid releases. This year, I have had several featured on the Beatport top charts and one on Elite Force's blog, Tech-Funk Manifesto.
What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2010?
2010 has been a big year for me. After playing at Electric Daisy Carnival, to winning the Dandy Kid Record's Remix Competition, and playing Meltdown on top of steady DJ gigs and a bundle of new remixes, expect bigger productions, quality mixes, and hopefully more gigs to play music at. Either way, I'm not slowing down any time soon!
1.Jaimie Fanatic - Kickin' Up Dirt (Calvertron Remix)
2.Frederik Mooij - The Realness
3.Kid Komas - Safe Sound (Calvertron Remix)
4.Pablo Decoder vs. Tim Healey - Echoes In My Head (Zodiac Cartel Remix)
5.Chase & Status - Let You Go (Nero Remix)
6.Passion Pit - Sleepyhead (Dry Lunch Remix)
7.Ellarsound - Part Of Me
8.HiJack & Meat Katie - Bring The Panic (Elite Force Remix)
9.Deadmau5 & Wolfgang Gartner - Animal Rights
10.Deadmau5 - SOFI Needs A Ladder (Frederik Mooij Remix)
11.Pascal & Pearce - Disko Biskit
12.Frederik Mooij - Soulfull Ruckuss
13.Jamie Fanatic - Reprogrammed (Frederik Mooij Remix)
14.Calvertron - Hit Da Ground