When local DJ Jayvi Velasco graduated from high school in 1991, he knew he wanted to spend his graduation gift of $500 on one thing: an old-school DJ setup. "From then on, DJing took over my entire life," he laughs. In his 23-year musical career, the house DJ has played almost every situation imaginable: the big stages of Live 105's BFD, warehouse undergrounds, and fetish parties. We spoke with Jayvi about playing after hours, being a recording engineer, and what he's learned from the Bay Area nightlife scene. He opens for Louie Vega this Friday, June 20, at Mighty.
How do you apply being a recording engineer to DJing?
Using basic recording and sound engineering techniques when DJing can make huge difference in your DJ sets. Little things, like staying out of the red and zeroing out the EQs on a DJ mixer, can improve the sonic quality of the entire sound system. Having this knowledge also helps if something goes wrong with the equipment. I'm able to troubleshoot the issue and help fix it, if possible. You can also be more creative with your DJing if you know how to utilize all of the features of the equipment you're playing on.
You're known for playing a lot of after-hours parties. What's your favorite part of doing so?
I would have to say people are more open to different types of music at an afterhours event. As a DJ, you're freer to experiment with new music and different mixes because there's less dance floor pressure than during primetime club hours. Dancers feel free to be themselves at after hours events and definitely get into that "dance like nobody's watching" mood.
Give us a typical scene at 5 a.m. on Sunday morning for you.
Honestly, if I'm not DJing an after hours party at that time, I'm probably already in bed. I don't party as hard as I used to.
What record has had the most impact on your DJ career thus far?
Lil' Louis "French Kiss." The first time I heard that record was in 1989 on Live 105. They played the full version that slowed down in the middle with the moaning and then sped up back to the original tempo. I was a suburban kid and had never heard anything like that. All I knew is that I wanted more of that in my life. From there, I sought out music that sounded like that and it eventually led to me becoming DJ.
Since you've been DJing since 1991, what's been essential to learn about nightlife networking in the Bay?
I've seen a lot of DJs come and go in the past two decades. The ones that have longevity are the most humble people you'll ever met with and good social skills. You can be the best DJ in the world, but no on is going to book you if people don't like you as a person. I've always tried my best to be person of good character first, then a DJ.
What's the biggest change you've seen in the nightlife scene?
The biggest thing I've noticed is that parties are getting more and more specialized when it comes to the music played at the event. It's not necessarily a bad thing. It's just something I've noticed. There's not a lot of crossover these days. I myself try to go to a variety of different events all over the Bay Area, even if I'm not DJing. That's how I keep from getting burnt out on one particular scene.
Where's your favorite place to play in the Bay?
Not sure if I have a hands down favorite. But here are a few that I currently enjoy playing at: Mighty, thePeople, AfterAfterHours, Wish, Soul Camp, Prismatic, About The Music, Blessed, and the list goes on. Basically, anyone that trusts me enough to play at their event is my favorite place to play. I try to treat every DJ set as if it were my last, cause you just never know -- for example, the recent passing of Frankie Knuckles.
You recently re-released an edit of "Gypsy Woman." Give us the breakdown on that.
First of all, I have to give all the credit to Dimitri From Paris for putting together an amazing remix/mashup of the original Crystal Waters version with the downtempo/lounge Montefiori Cocktail version. Pure genius. I loved Dimitri's version immediately when I first heard it in 2004. However, his version was hard to work into my DJ sets. It started with a short a cappella and wasn't that easy to mix out of. So, I decided to make a DJ-friendly version for me to play out at my gigs. I wasn't planning on releasing or even sharing it with anyone. That all changed when I burned copies for my good friends and former co-workers at an SSF music distributor, Tokyo Component and DJ Proof. After that, most of the DJs I knew in the Bay had it. I pretty much forgot about it, until last week when my boy, DJ Mikeytown, heard DJ Cecil play it in San Diego at Dive. Mikey was excited to hear it and sent me a text asking me to send it to him. That's when I decided to post it on my SoundCloud account and share it on FB. Hopefully, I won't have to take it down after the article is posted.
Lastly, what are you looking forward to when you open for Louie Vega this Friday?
I'm really just looking forward to hearing David Harness and Louie Vega play. David is SF house music royalty that never disappoints when he's throwing down. Louie is my favorite DJ and producer of all time. It's magical when he's on the decks. I'm in awe just knowing that I get to share the stage with one of the legendary Masters At Work I'd be there the whole night dancing even if I wasn't DJing. Hopefully, I'll be able to start of the night properly for these guys.