Hey, DJ! Q&A with DJ Low Key
Every Friday we spotlight the hottest cats behind the decks in the MHC, grilling them to gain some insight on what it takes, exactly, to get the party rocking, to find out about their most treasured crate digging experiences and what they really think when we stumble up to them half cocked and ask them to play that new song by such and such -- you know, the one that goes... This week: DJ Low Key, the host of the Solution Friday nights at the Funky Buddha, So Damn Down at Shag on Saturdays and Hapa Life on Sundays at Hapi Sushi in Cherry Creek. Read the full interview after the jump.
Name: DJ Low Key
Club night(s): The Solution with DJ Low Key & Sounds Supreme on the Funky Buddha's rooftop every Friday; So Damn Down at Shag every Saturday; and Hapa Life every Sunday at Hapa Sushi in Cherry Creek, plus all sorts of other events.
Style(s) of music you spin: Hip-hop, R&B/soul, breaks and a bunch of other stuff. Not so much top 40, though. I try to offer an alternative to the standard club scene.
So what's your story, in 100 words or less? It all started with dubbing DJ mixes off the radio in ATL when I'd visit my pops as a teenager. Got some turntables to cop random hip-hop 12-inches when I was fifteen, then decided I wanted to spin parties after hanging out with DJ Petey and DJ Chonz (Radio Bums!!!). That turned into clubs, mixtapes and college radio. Now I throw three weekly parties, DJ for a rap group called Tanya Morgan all around the country, record mixtapes with some of my favorite new artists and work on all sorts of other random music ish.
Name of a track you can't get out of your head: Donwill as Don Cusack & Harlem's Cash "Love Junkee" (produced by Aeon). Donwill from Tanya Morgan is releasing an album next year called Don Cusack in High Fidelity, where he raps as the main character in the movie High Fidelity. This track from it parallels the part of the movie/album where he takes home Marie De Salle for a one night stand. Don & Harlem's Cash go in hard on what might be the catchiest song on the album. Not to mention the production by Aeon, one of my favorite new producers, is INSANE. I've been running around singing part of the hook for months.
Name of an artist you're currently championing in your DJ sets: I can't choose just one; I champion a lot of new cats when I spin. Let's pick a dozen...Tanya Morgan, Che Grand, TiRon, Food Chain, Whygee, Aeon, Trackademicks, Ro Blvd, U-N-I, 8thW1, Jermiside & Electric Wire Hustle. I promise you that all these cats are worth looking into.
Best club experience in another country (again, if you've had a good one)? Last year I was deejaying for Tanya Morgan on a tour with the Hieroglyphics and we had a stop in London -- not London, England, but London, Ontario, a town in Canada that none of us had heard of. We got into town, it seemed like the last place that a hip-hop show was gonna go down, but the crowd ended up being as live as any on the whole 35-show tour, probably liver. I don't know if it's because they're deprived of shows up there or what, but the crowd went nuts from the time I put the needles on the turntables until the end of the show. People were going crazy all night long and the place felt like a sauna before Hiero even hit the stage. It was easily the biggest surprise of the whole tour.
Musical mantra: I just try to do stuff for people on the same page as me and spin the kind of events I'd wanna go to.
Favorite DJ experience: Damn, there's so many great ones to choose from. If I had to pick one, I'd probably be my twenty-fifth birthday at the Solution. The spot was beyond packed, Tanya Morgan and Che Grand were out from NYC to perform, Sounds Supreme was killing it on the tables early and then I closed out the night for one of the coolest crowds I've been able to DJ for. It was crazy; the crowd was singing along to a Donwill (from Tanya Morgan) freestyle from one of mixtapes and they knew the words better than him. The vibe in the air that night was just right, everybody out to have fun and enjoy the music. I remember running around all drunk that night, screaming "I love my life!!!".
Worst request: People who come up to the booth asking if I have a mike. Usually no good can come of that.
Worst club faux pas you've committed: One of the first shows I ever opened for was Bone [Thugs In Harmony] at the Fox Theatre. Not knowing quite what to play when opening for such a random group, I asked their manager if they minded if I played "Notorious Thugs" (their collab with Biggie). He looked at me like I was on crack, said "No," and "Notorious Thugs" ended up being the second to last song they performed. I knew not to play songs from headlining act but for some reason I thought guest spots were an exception. Bad call.
Most treasured vinyl score: Tom Scott's Honeysuckle Breeze LP. It's got the original horn sample for "They Reminisce Over You" on it and, as any hip hop nerd will tell you, that's one of the most amazing pieces of music ever. I found it during a trip to Atlanta when I was still in high school and haven't seen it in almost ten years of diggin since.
What other music-related projects are you currently working on? Me and Sounds Supreme are finally putting out a Solution mixtape in December. People have been asking us about it for a few years now, and we're finally gonna drop one. We've got some dope live recordings from guests who've come through rocked with us and some other exclusives for the tape, I can't wait to get it out there. I've got a few other projects in the works with some of my favorite new artists too, both locally and nationally. There's a lot of great stuff coming together but I don't wanna get ahead of myself in mentioning everything. In the meantime, make sure you check out my mixtape with Atlanta-based rapper Jermiside, Die Jerm Die, at DJLowKey.com in the mixtapes section. It just recently came out, and we've been getting great feedback on it. Last but not least, I'm just trying to always be working on bigger, better and most importantly, fresher events. Definitely stay tuned, I'm putting some extraordinary iddish together at the moment.
What's something happening in the local music scene that should be getting more attention? The fans. As DJs and artists, we always want more and more fans at our events and we're never satisfied, but the more I travel, the more I realize just how great the Denver hip-hop fans and scene really are. Colorado's pretty extraordinary, and most people here don't even realize it. I hear the same thing from out of town artists a lot, too. Gotta thank the fans for making it so good.
What elements would your fantasy club night entail? Playing for a big room full of beautiful, single women with similar musical tastes as myself...LOL. I'd probably want a few of my friends there, too. Mainly just beautiful women with good taste in music though.
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Why don't you update DJLowKey.com more often? Workin' on it. I still update it a few times a month, but I'm gonna get back to at least a few updates a week soon. I've got all sorts of good stuff to post; just never enough time to post it all up. I'm gonna make it a bigger priority though, so make sure to bookmark DJLowKey.com -- or put it on your RSS feed, if you're up on all that -- and I'll make it worth your while.
Next time we can see you spin: Tonight at the Solution with DJ Low Key & Sounds Supreme on the Funky Buddha's rooftop. No cover / 21+ / Starts at 9.
- Saturday at So Damn Down at Shag w/special guest DJ Forge (of the Jukebox Heros and Kam Moye/Supastition's DJ). No cover / 21+ / Starts at 10
- Sunday at Hapa Life at Hapa Sushi in Cherry Creek. It's the closing week of the Dunn The Signtologist's show at Hapa and I highly recommend people check out the original pieces Dunn created for the show at Hapa (he did a four piece Karate Kid that's awesome). Happy hour with music starting at 8:30 / All ages.