Dallas Observer Mixtape with Willie Trimmer

DJ Willie Trimmer curated this week's mixtape.EXPAND
DJ Willie Trimmer curated this week's mixtape.
Clinton Bales
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Willie Trimmer has been a constant presence in Dallas music culture for decades. As one of the few club DJs who still makes a full-time living behind the decks, Trimmer has a particularly well-informed perspective on the DJ landscape. His versatility and depth of genre knowledge, ranging from popular mainstream tunes to the underground, give him the distinct ability to make just about any dance floor happy. Although he can play a wide range, Trimmer's love of house music is undeniable. His passion for the genre is infectious. For this week's mixtape, Trimmer dives in headfirst with a mix that leans heavy on the funky disco side of house.

How long have you been in the DJ game? What inspired you to go down this path?

I started DJing when I was 15 years old in 1991. Music was always important to me when I was a kid. I grew up breakdancing and would collect tapes, records, eventually CDs of the music I liked dancing to. One day in eighth grade, my friend asked me to bring my music over to his birthday party; before I knew it, I was DJing my first party. Train-wrecking of course, but no one knew any better. So I guess you could say I became a DJ naturally or by accident depending on how you look at it.

Were you involved in music before you started DJing?

I was never really involved in music prior to DJing, from a musician standpoint. A few music classes in elementary school, that’s about it. I wish I‘d had more of a push at a younger age or given the opportunity to learn an instrument. Seems like we as a country have a lack of pushing our kids to learn an instrument or take a singing class, just stick them in front of a TV or an iPad. Kids just want insta-fame now, no hard work or learning a craft. This is why we have mumble rap today, and things like Auto-Tune, Cardi B and Drake.

What are your current residencies and what are you playing at those nowadays?

I’m very lucky to have some great gigs and be one of a few full-time DJs still that I know of in town. That’s because I’m flexible in what I can play, I believe. I think I’m known for electronic music or house music, but I can play anything with a beat. Except country sounds like dying dogs to me. Can’t do country. At the moment I have residencies at Crowdus, a new throwback bar in Deep Ellum on Fridays playing remixed '70s, '80s and '90s. Saturdays I’m at the Statler Hotel rooftop at Waterproof, day pool parties during the summer and every night 9 to 2 a.m. spinning deep house, house, disco with a touch of top 40 remixes. Saturdays late night I play at my friend Jack’s House spinning all styles of house, sorry if you don’t know Jack. Sundays I’m at Hideaway on Henderson playing open format early and electronic music later in the night. Mondays I’m at Henderson Taphouse industry night playing open format and electronic music later in the night as well. Residencies always come and go, as a DJ you find stability in the instability of venues opening and closing.

What is your relationship with house music?

House music is everything to me, it drives me to do what I’m doing. It’s like my religion. There are so many styles, and it’s ever-evolving, recycled. I think it will be around for a while.

How often do you travel for gigs? Any stand out destinations?

I travel a few times a year across the states and at least a couple countries a year if possible. I help throw a mini charity festival in San Pedro, Belize called Festival of the Sun & Moon, Benefiting Raisemeupbelize.org and kids on the island. We are on our fourth year coming up next April. It’s amazing, I’m very lucky to be a part of it.

How was this mix made and is there a theme or concept behind it?

I recorded this on a Pioneer SX3 with Serato. Funky Jackin’ Disco is this mix's vibe with a little twist towards the end, it’s what I’ve been diggin’ lately. This mix was recorded live, one take, no game plan or pre-setlist. Two original remixes, 31 tracks, no computer editing, no sync button. I just threw some of my favorite tracks in a folder and went at it.

Do you have any current fave or up-and-coming local DJs or producers that have caught your ear?

Right now I’m really liking Casey Cosmos’ sets and production. He’s new to the scene, and I think he will do really well here in the near future. Stetra, Shree, Pass the 40 and Pete Mash have been killing their sets at Jack’s House. Faucon and Left Right are holding it down as far as production in Dallas. Red Eye is a legend, and I love when I can catch his sets. The Proton & Capsule guys are doing great things.

Any fave non-local DJs or producers?

I’m really digging Purple Disco Machine’s tracks at the moment. Also Mercer, Block & Crown, Chris Lake, Hatiras, Friend Within and Claptone are always on my playlist.

Do you have any tracks that never leave your crate?

I use Serato, so none of my tracks leave their crates. Using a computer allows me to have a deep library to walk into any situation. I learned early in my career that if you plan a set or if you can’t change at the drop of a dime, you are not paying attention to the crowd. If you don’t pay attention to the crowd, then you’re in trouble. When I spun all vinyl, I had a bad back from carrying too many tracks. If I had to pick a few all-time favorite go-to tracks it would have to be Bucket heads — the bomb, You don’t know me — Armand Van Helden and Blue Monday – New Order.

Where do you like to dig for tracks?

I go to shows when I can or listen to my favorite DJs mix shows and if something sticks out to me, I Shazam it. Got to love technology. I remember going to Bill’s or Oaklawn Records and going up to the counter and asking Kelly Reverb or Rob Vaughn, “Do you have the song that goes like, la la la la,” and sounding like a jackass. I don’t have the time that I use to dig for tracks, and with the millions of mp3s out there you can get lost. I like to trade top faves with friends rather than download gigs of music that will just sit in a crate and never get touched.

Are there any genres that you wish you could play out more often?

There has been an obvious EDM / festival style of music bubble burst. EDM now seems to be a bad word because of how commercial it has become, pop if you will. The backlash has become a form-fitting "make everyone happy all in one bar-pub-club-restaurant" venue trend that is mainly playing “ratchet” hip-hop, trap or Top 40 with 70-100 bpm range. The exact opposite of that has also occurred in the underground scene, a minimal no vocal or recognizable sample or song change for four hours underground dark techno party. Neither of which I really enjoy and find boring. I wish more places would play a combo of vocal disco deep funky house. Something that you don’t need bottle service or drugs to enjoy, but that’s just my personal taste. House, that’s what I would play out more often if I could. But I feel like it’s coming back strong, so we will see.

Like Sugar - Chaka Khan (Willie Trimmer Remix)
Mary Jane Girls – All Night Long (Ardalan Edit)
HipCats – ATFC & David Penn
The Truth – Friend Within
Deep in the Funk – Treasure Fingers
Crush on you – Nero (Dope Lopez Remix)
Soul Sacrifice – Dombresky
Soul on Fire – Hatiras & Angelo Ferreri
Turn Around – Phats & Small Vs Cube Guys
Travolta - Arno Cost & Norman Doray
Studio 54 – Mercer
Alright – Mercer
Work it out – A-Trak
Summertime – Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince (Willie Trimmer Remix)
Suga – Green Velvet & Technasia
Chunky – Format:B
What I might do – Ben Pearce (Milk & sugar Remix)
Superstylin – Groove Armada (Riva Starr Edit)
Gypsy Woman – Crystal Waters (Richey Profond Remix)
Giant – Calvin Harris & Rag’n’Bone (Purple Disco Machine remix)
Liquid Spirit – Gregory Porter (Claptone Remix)
La Luna – Jude Amp Frank
Rendez-Vu – Basement Jaxx (Jesse Garcia Club mix)
House Every Weekend – DZ
Commotion – Vanilla Ace
Work Your Body – Funkerman & Cooperated Soul
Tight – Kaskade & Madge
Deceiver – Green Velvet & Chris Lake
Today’s News – Solardo
Dancing – Eats Everything Feat. Tiga, Ron Costa & Audion

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