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Friday, May 30, 2008

Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Disco Shawn

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2008 at 7:56 AM

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Hey DJ!

Name: Disco Shawn

Club night: Tormenta Tropical

Your neighborhood: The Mission (although it seems like I rarely DJ there)

Style of music you spin: It really depends where I'm playing, but I always like to mix it up. (I also DJ on the radio at KALX in Berkeley, so that free-form spirit is pretty ingrained in me.) Styles I've been known to throw down include Cumbia, Hip Hop, Electro, Bmore, Indie, Post Punk, Baile Funk, House....the list is endless. I like mixing it up.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: "Lollipop" by Lil Wayne and "Love in this Club" by Usher have kind of taken over my brain recently. DJ Sega's remix of "Be" also makes guest appearances from time to time.

City producing the hottest tracks right now: Buenos Aires! Honorable mention for NYC, Philly and Monterrey (Mexico).

Dream DJ partner: Maybe I should say Oro11, my partner at Tormenta Tropical. He's great and all, but I'd be pretty excited to DJ with people like Daft Punk, Diplo and DJ Shadow. I'd also love to get shown up by The Avalanches. Those dudes are amazing.

Favorite DJ experience: I can't narrow this down to a single night (although I have had some amazing times spinning at house parties over the years), so I'm going to go ahead and say that my favorite DJ experience was the year I just spent living in Buenos Aires, Argentina. When I moved there with my girlfriend in late 2006, I literally didn't know anyone or anything about the music scene. It forced me to start from scratch, as I had to go out to random parties and club nights in search of good music.

Luckily I hooked up with the folks running the weekly Zizek party down there, who introduced me to cumbia and ultimately helped set my DJing off in a whole new direction. Free of "scene" politics and expectations, I was able to explore new sounds and styles and play for different crowds.

The whole experience was totally liberating and so much better than any single night of DJing that I've had. Now I'm back here in the Bay Area running Tormenta Tropical and releasing some of these cumbia sounds on Bersa Discos, a record label that Oro11 and I started up.

Worst request: While I was in Buenos Aires a friend of mine threw a birthday party at this "club" that was actually the back room of a random Peruvian restaurant. The party was actually really fun but every twenty seconds either a greasy dude or random teenage girl (who knows how these people found out about the party) would run up to me and demand either "Cumbia!" or "Reggaeton", despite the fact that I was playing both in my set. That sucked.

It's also horrible anytime someone requests "that one song" or "something they can dance to". The latter is especially good when the floor is packed with people actually dancing.

Also, people who request either Prince or Madonna are usually bad news. Nothing against those artists, but the people who request them are usually complete tools.

Most clichéd DJ track right now: The Baltimore club remix of anything. (Note: I am 110% guilty of playing bmore club versions of random songs.)

The type of drink clubbers you prefer clubbers buy you when you spin: Ummm, I don't drink so I don't really care. The most expensive one so we meet our bar guarantee more quickly? How about the one they don't spill on me.

Musical mantra: Playing one style for an entire DJ set is boring.

Question you often ask yourself that we didn't ask: How does someone that doesn't drink and doesn't really like dance clubs end up as a DJ and keep doing it for nearly a decade? The answer: I don't know.

Next time we can see you spin: The next Tormenta Tropical - Saturday, June 7 at the Rickshaw Stop. We're bringing in South Rakkas Crew (they're on Diplo's Mad Decent label). Go to for more information.

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Ian S. Port


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