Growing up during the height of the '90s Bay Area turntablism movement, local DJ Bryan Boogie decided to save his lunch money to buy equipment from RadioShack at the age of 12. While locals Q-bert, Mix Master Mike, and Apollo were dazzling in DMC battles, Boogie instead found himself drawn to house music with the discovery of records like The Bomb by The Bucketheads. At 14, he began playing underground raves, high school dances, and even weddings, becoming known for his skills as a house DJ. To further his exploration, he attended the Sound Arts program at Ex'Pression College for Digital Arts, which furthered his obsession with deep house music.
Today, he's still primarily recognized as a house DJ and producer, his most recent work being with Chicago house legend Gene Hunt. He has also toured extensively overseas, primarily in Asia, having DJ'd the top clubs in Singapore while also teaching children how to DJ in impoverished neighborhoods in Manila. We recently spoke with Bryan Boogie about playing clubs while underage, his new alias Boogie Fresh, and being the newest resident at 2nd Sundays. He plays this Sunday with Mark Farina, White Noize, and more at Café Cocomo.
What was the most exciting part about playing clubs when you were underage?
It was exciting being exposed to people I looked up to, like Shortkut and Vinroc. I'll be honest though, it didn't compare to the huge underground raves I used to play at around that time.The vibe was amazing -- it was something special.
How did deep house become the genre you're known for?
By the time I went into the sound arts program at Ex'Pression, I was playing trance and hard house at raves. We recorded a lot of rock bands in my analog recording class. One day a jazz band came in and I was amazed at the drummer's finesse. Then I found this deep house party called Remedy at DNA Lounge. It was definitely a legendary deep house party in S.F. that greatly influenced my sound. Ryan from LifeSF had always liked my music. So when I moved back to the Bay Area, he made me one of his resident DJs. He helped me out the most. Out of all the different genres, it's one of the few that touches my soul. You can tell when an artist has that kind of connection with their craft. Nowadays, I like to mix it up with a little bit of tech-house, sometimes minimal techno-ish kind of stuff with a touch of deep and soul. It really depends on the party. There are so many different sub-genres nowadays. For lack of a better term, I just call it house music.
Who are some new deep house artists you're digging?
I'm really feeling this new deep house sound with artists like Maceo Plex, Art Department, and Soul Clap. I've also been into Julio Bashmore and Deetron. They're not particularly new, but the sounds are new to me -- especially when you mix them all up. I've been inspired by the slower new deep house sound, and also the tech stuff.
You tour around Asia fairly often. What kind of knowledge have you gained touring in places like Shanghai and Manila?
Life-changing! I'm infatuated with learning how different cultures end up in different countries, like why many Filipinos are mixed with Spanish, or why a Singaporean can be Chinese, Indian, Malaysian, or a bit of each. How one country can be so wealthy while others end up impoverished? I've had a Facebook co-founder in my booth in Singapore and have also played for presidential kin on a remote beach party island, although it's not always as glamorous as people think. My friends and I put together a charity event at Child Haus in one of the poorer neighborhoods in Manila. They provide shelter for kids with cancer while they undergo treatment in the big city. We fed them, brought in a clown, and taught the kids how to DJ. As I was posting live pictures to my Facebook, I got a text from my mother asking me what part of Manila I was in. Coincidentally, she grew up poor in that same exact neighborhood 50 years ago. It was a very spiritual moment for me. While many DJ's do this for money and fame, I decided I wanted to use whatever attention I get to help those who are less fortunate. I want to make charity cool. I've since donated my services to a similar charity here in S.F. called Family House.
What's been the most memorable country you've been to so far?
That's a tough question. I like different places for different things. While I do love being home, I really like Singapore. It's a world class city that the rest of the world should model themselves after. It's ultra-modern and a well-designed epitome of efficiency. It's like living in an iPhone. I like Taiwan for the food and the antics with the Liquid Lifestyle folks. They're the ones who opened the doors for me to many Asian cities. I also keep a close connection to my friends in the Philippines. It's my second home. I suppose it has more to do with the people than it does with the country.
You've worked with many promoters throughout your 15-year career. What do you think is most important in the relationship between a promoter and a DJ?
There has to be a mutual respect. Just like any partnership, we have to vibe. Nowadays, DJs are expected to be promoters. That takes away from our practice or studio work. Let us focus on providing world-class talent. Promoters should invite people to experience it. Sure, I'll invite my friends, but they shouldn't rely on DJs to do their jobs. The DJ who spends most of his time making Facebook invites and getting booked five nights a week because he brings his crowd probably wouldn't beat any of my friends in a battle. It's cheapening the experience and it's not fair to people who genuinely love good music.
Next: Boogie explains why he has an alias for Top 40 gigs