DC9er Mixtape, Vol. 30: Dean Dillinger

Christian Dean Ward, perhaps better known around town as Dean Dillinger, got his start spinning records way back when, as a producer/board operator at WERQ-92.3 92Q Jams in Baltimore.

"I used to play records for Reggie Reg and K-Swift (Rest In Power) when they went to the bathroom, or were on their cell phones in the hallway," Ward says.

Now, Dean Dillinger has a weekly at Fallout Lounge, a semi-regular night at Absinthe Lounge called Echo Chamber, and he makes up one half of the electro, tribal, hip-hop group Scar City Fugitives.

Dillinger describes his personal style as "eclectic," and claims that his main objective while spinning is "reckless abandon."

"I want people to dance like they did when they were 13 at a house party," Dillinger says. "I want them to go on the journey with me, go back and forth in time, ride the momentum of the music, experience the intensity and the release of an amazing drop, feel sexy during a seductive melodic interlude, to just feel good."

Check out his mix and full Q&A after the jump -- and let us know if it takes you on that kind of journey!

How long have you been DJ for now?
I've dabbled for ten [years], but "seriously" for about four years.

What was your first gig like?
I honestly don't remember. I don't think I had an official first gig. My first residency was at MINC, which is now 813. That was the dopest. I started the night opening for Woody Rosen in the front room, playing house, real soulful funky stuff, then at around midnight I would go out back in the Zen Garden and play whatever I felt like. Reggae, hip-hop, dancehall, electro, afro beat, drum & bass, soul, B-more, trip hop, dubstep, funk, boss nova, it was an all-out free-for-all.

Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise?
Yeshua Hamashiach, and all the other freedom fighters and holy men throughout history. I'm inspired by street artists, grass roots activism, originators and innovators in every field from the arts to the sciences. Amoa Soleil, aka Dehvon Ward, is an amazing artist and actress, who happens to be my wife and the whole Space Camp collective encourage my creativity. Space Camp is a loose-knit community of musicians, artists, filmmakers, emcees, singers, make up artists, photographers, etc.  

How would you describe your personal style?
Eclectic. Left to my own devices, I tend not to stick to any genre. I usually go with what's more sonically pleasing and reinforces the mood I'm trying to create. I use a lot of loops and effects. When I'm feeling brave I bring my guitar or my drums and augment what I'm spinning.

Which DJs do you follow? Do you have a favorite?
I really don't follow many DJs, but, as far as famous cats, I like Tommy Tea and Bob Rifo from the Bloody Beet Roots, Questlove, Jazzy Jeff and Gas Lamp Killer -- not just because of his music but mainly because he acts a damn fool behind the decks (like me). As far as local talent, I love Brent Bradford (extremely underrated), Tyrone Smiley, Rich Thomas, Phooka, the cats from Hot Flash, Nemeses and Big J. The truth is, most any DJ can murder the dance floor; I actually gauge a DJ's worth by who he is when he's not behind the decks.

What's your favorite genre of music, both to play and to listen to?
I don't really believe in genres; it seems to cripple artists. As far as audio aesthetic, I love "big" music. I like music with massive symphonic elements or huge layered distorted synths, but I also love groovy soulful and tribal stuff. The most important aspect is that it has to be danceable. But if I had to pick a genre right now I would go with dancehall. As a genre, it is able to encompass most of the things I enjoy about music

How do you decide what songs you're going to play?
I pick a song that embodies what I want to do and then I knit together, usually by key, and which track will reinforce the vibe. I basically let the track that's playing pick the next one. When I'm being witty, I'll try and knit together tracks by themes or purposely play a song from unrelated genres to show the universal cohesion of music.

How much preparation goes into putting a set together?
What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play?
Be prepared to go on a journey. I am very energetic, so, even if you're not digging the current track, you'll be entertained by me pumping my fist or straight getting my boogie on. I am quite known for leaving the decks and dancing with the crowd. You can expect me to bring something extra, be it a drum, guitar or me just singing along with the music. (FYI, I'm not that good at guitar, but I rock out regardless).

What kind of equipment do you use?
I use two Technics 1200's, Pioneer DJM 909, Mac Book Pro w/Serato, Toca congas and timbales, PRS SE EG with Line 6 POD X3 Live and Handsonic HPD 15.

Requests. Love em or hate em?
Depends. If you ask for a song [with] the terms "swag," "drank," " makin it rain" or any references to strip clubs, you probably won't hear it. I do not play ignorant music.

If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, whom would you play with and where would it be?
Rage Against the Machine, Jamiroquai and Sizzla in Honolulu at the Waikiki Shell.

What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth?
I'm not too cool to dance and have fun. I can actually play an instrument or two. No one can figure out my ethnicity. And my wife is smokin' hot.

When/where will you be playing next?
Random Dopeness every Wednesday at Fallout Lounge, and a semi-regular event at Absinthe Lounge called Echo Chamber

What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2011?
I am half of the electro, tribal, hip-hop group Scar City Fugitives, along with Don Ben Ready. Amoa and the Magic Kid is an indie soul pop project Dehvon and I started on earlier this year, and there are a bunch of colabs and singles that are always in progress. We'll be featuring it all on our website early next year.

DC9er Tracklist:
Love Hits the Fan -- Phonat                        
Yeah You -- N*E*R*D                           
Fresh Off The Boat -- Nelly Furtado                     
Neutroniks -- K-Os                            
Edwrecker -- Feadz                            
God's Triangle -- Trin-I-Tee 5:7                    
Liquid Lullaby -- Amoa & The Magic Kid ft Mystic Verse    
Stop Space Return (Ron Basejam Mix) -- Crazy               
Seventeen Years -- Ratatat                           
Exilio (Rewound By Thievery Corporation) -- Thievery Corporation
Dance or Die -- Family Force 5                    
None Shall Pass -- Aesop Rock                        
1st Magic Groove (Shur-I-Kan Remix) -- D'NellLounge       
You're Divine -- Makoto Feat. Lori Fine            
Colours -- Calvin Harris                    
Dr. Funk -- Sidechains                        
Madison Avenue -- Gil Scott-Heron                   
What Else Is There -- Royksopp

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Catherine Downes
Contact: Catherine Downes