Israel Marcano started spinning in the mid '80s, and had his first professional gig in 1989. "I remember my hands shook as I cued up my records but I was totally ready to make people dance," he recalls. "Once I saw people getting into it and having a good time, I started to relax and didn't feel so nervous. I think I feel the same way now sometimes when I play out. I get the butterflies in the stomach, you know what I mean?"
DJ Israel currently plays a bi-weekly gig at the Windmill Lounge called Enigma, where he spins indie and '80s tunes, and he's also a member of monthly underground house night Elemental Souls at Sandaga 813. Check his website to find out where he's playing next, and in the meantime check out his mix and Q&A.
See also: - DC9er mixtape Vol. 45: D Gina G
How long have you been DJing? I started spinning in '85 but got my first professional club gig around '89.
How did you get your start? As a teenager I lived on an Army base and hung around with a bunch of neighborhood kids that were into breakdancing and early hip-hop. One of those kids was a next door neighbor of mine named Shawn Davis. He and I began to buy records and traded mix tapes back and forth. It got to the point where we were both more concerned with DJing and music than anything else, so while everyone else was practicing their breakdancing moves we'd be playing music, practicing our mixing and scratching. Shawn and I remain great friends to this day and both still enjoy DJing, just like we did back when we started.
Who/what are some of your biggest influences musical or otherwise? Well, way before I became a DJ my dad turned me onto lots of different styles of music. We'd listen to stuff on eight track or vinyl from artists like Mollie Hatchet, Fleetwood Mac, Donna Summer, Chic, Earth, Wind & Fire and also lots of salsa music from people like Willie Colon and Hector Lavoe. I have to give props to my dad for exposing me to such a diverse array of music as a kid. It has undoubtedly been a huge influence helping me form my own musical tastes and on how I make selections when I'm DJing.
Which DJs do you follow? Do you have a favorite? I can't say I have a favorite DJ because there are too many to choose from, but I was really blown away early on by people like the legendary New York DJ Red Alert, Chicago's Julian Jumpin' Perez and Detroit's Jeff "The Wizard" Mills. I also have to mention Masters At Work, Garth & Spun from Wicked Tribe, DJ Sasha, Darren Emerson and Joey Beltram. Again, these are just a few of the people whose work I've admired & followed throughout the years. The entire list would be more like a book.
What's your favorite genre of music, both to play and to listen to? If I had to put a label on it I'd just call it electronic music. To be more specific I'd have to say it's soulful house and techno, but I like to make things fun for people and keep things interesting during my sets so I tend to genre hop as long as I feel it's cohesive and makes sense.
How do you decide what songs you're going to play? I get a lot of direction from the energy and vibe of the people on the dance floor. I also try to mix tracks that are generally in the same key or around the same key.
How much preparation goes into putting a set together? I'm always thinking about what I'm gonna play at my gigs, so I like to make playlists, which help me set certain tracks aside for future use. During live shows, I'm constantly taking selections from many of those different playlists.
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 want people to have a great time dancing of course but I also want them to come away with a memorable experience so I try to take people on a journey throughout the night. Tell them a story that has a beginning, a middle and an ending.
What can someone expect when they come to see/hear you play? Well, I do a bi-weekly night called Enigma here at Windmill Lounge. I also have a monthly underground house event called Elemental Souls at Sandaga 813, where I'm usually always the first person to play, so I tend to play deep, soulful house to get things warmed up for the evening.
What kind of equipment do you use? I use a Macbook Pro with an S4 controller and Traktor Pro or sometimes instead of the controller I use a Native Instruments Audio 8 DJ sound card with control vinyls on Technics 12s.
Requests. Love 'em or hate 'em? I don't mind but I wish people wouldn't take it so personal when I say I don't have what they request or can't play what they are asking for. Just because you may really want to hear something at that moment doesn't mean the whole room will enjoy it the same.
If you could play a gig anywhere, with any other DJ/music act, with whom would you play and where? Playing alongside The Orb on the beach in Ibiza would be an absolute dream gig.
What sets you apart from other DJs in Dallas/Denton/Fort Worth? The fact that I've had many years to hone and perfect what I do and how I do it. I'm not some hobby DJ who just decided to take things out of my house and into the club. My main goal is to give people a great show so hopefully they'll have a memorable time and keep coming back for more.
When/where will you be playing next? Enigma at Windmill Lounge. Please check my website for up-to-date event info and more.
What can Dallas expect to see from you in 2012? 2012 is quickly drawing to a close but I hope to start doing a few other nights around town. My main concern lately has been to help grow the local underground scene and help expose some of the many talented underground DJs from right here in Dallas. Also, I've deliberately put off doing any producing since I added promoting to my resume, but hope to get back in the studio and make some new tunes in 2013. Overall, I see some really good things on the horizon for Dallas nightlife, so stay tuned folks!
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