Last weekend one of the cornerstones of Dallas' DJ community unexpectedly died. Aaron Wilkerson, better known to his peers and fans as Squirt, rose to prominence in the mid to late '90s.
If you picked up a flyer for a party or a rave during that time, you likely saw his name on it.
Wilkerson was prolific, gigging constantly and steadily putting out mixtape that influenced an entire generation of Dallas DJs. Wilkerson tackled a variety of styles including breaks, hip-hop, electro and drum and bass, and had the technical gifts to blend them seamlessly.
His biggest mark on the city was in the drum and bass genre. Wilkerson was at ground zero for the founding of the regional drum and bass scene, which is still active decades after he started pushing the sound here.
This Thursday at Wit's End, the Two Tone crew is hosting an all vinyl tribute to Wilkerson with open decks from 8-11 p.m. for his peers to lay wax in his honor.
The event will also raise money for a GoFundMe campaign to help settle Wilkerson's affairs. In lieu of the usual mixtape Q&A this week, we've decided to feature testimonials to Wilkerson by some of the Dallas DJs who knew him best, along with a mix from Wilkerson's archives.
"Squirt had his own mind to play what he wanted you to hear, not the other way around. He stayed true to himself with an amazing sense of humor and I always respected that about him. It made me stand my ground to play what moved me, to move others and still be grounded. Squirt was the one who made all of us step up our mixtape game. Legend."
"Aaron had a pure soul. His unique art of mixing and scratching was what drew me to him initially. We started a scratch crew with a few other friends and that's when I saw how much more there was to this dude. Always a kind heart and would do anything for his friends and family."
RCA (of Two Tone)
"I owe a lot to Squirt. I've always been in such respectful awe of him for his insane skill and talent; always envious of the expert ability that he, Phooka and BK possessed to be able to ferociously cut and scratch up jungle, hip-hop and breaks. First and foremost, I appreciated and loved the music he shared. He inspired me and so many others to become better DJs and stoke that drum and bass flame I carried early on. After a discussion with my brother Thomas today, I am convinced that there would be no Two Tone drum and bass without his direct effect."
"Squirt was the first person to ever sell me a drum and bass record. His humbleness was unmatched when I first got started. He also introduced me to promo/white label culture, and did his best to make sure I had at least one fire pre-release when I was lucky enough to have a gig back then. His influence and legendary status will forever be engraved in our hearts and on dance floors."
"Aaron was always authentic. His music selection, deejaying style and his personality were all unique and real. He found ways to get people to come together and have fun, through his music and through his sense of humor. He will be missed, but the impact he had on people will always be present."
"Aaron was one of those artists that you could hear the absolute joy when he played. Each track selected, every mix, came natural to him. To audiences everywhere when he played it was a celebration ... to his fellow DJs, it was a sign we had more practice to do. RIP Squirt."
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Wes Stubblefield (of shadowboxing.org)
"Squirt was one of forefathers of the Dallas drum and bass scene. He was one of the few jungle DJs playing regularly at raves in the mid '90s. He had tremendous crossover appeal and his penchant for having a mixtape handy to give away helped legitimize drum and bass in a town best known for its house music."
"Squirt was a character who was fun to be around, always telling stories and drawing people in with his sense of humor. The music he played was a perfect reflection of that, fun and full of swagger. As I'm selecting wax for Thursday's celebration, I can't help but credit him for inspiring this house and techno DJ to invest a lot of time and money in drum and bass. Respect!"
"Squirt is drum and bass in Dallas. He was, for many of us, the first experience of the sound and the reason why many DJs gravitated toward the music. His love and passion for the music bled into everything he touched. Every mixtape was a moment in time for us and every jungleist can remember a point of their lives, just by listening to one of his mixes. The second, third and fourth generation drum and bass DJs can all be traced to him as an influence and we all owe a debt of gratitude to him for what this scene is today."
"Time flies by so fast. I can't even think of when I went from being a fan to being a friend. I think a lot of people took that for granted. Squirt may have been a small guy, but he had huge dreams. Every time I would bump into him there was always some new thing or project he wanted to work on."