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Friday, April 17, 2009

Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: DJ Guillermo

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2009 at 6:12 AM

click to enlarge dj_guillermo.jpg
With each of these DJ Q&As we do, it's becoming increasingly obvious: Sweater Funk has become a hot night (and in that steamy basement venue, we mean that phrase in more ways than one) for San Francisco funk. When the rest of the city goes to bed early for the big week ahead, DJs and dancers alike take it down to Chinadown to sweat out the best in boogie disco every Sunday. Helping lead the charge is DJ Guillermo, a dude who DJs pretty much everything but mash-ups. He's got crates of everything from hip-hop to Latin groove to old school disco. And from the sound of things, he can also make a mean breakfast scramble.

Name: Jacob Pena aka DJ Guillermo

Club night(s): Sweater Funk - 80's funk, boogie disco, soulful steppers (every sunday night @ Li Po, free 9pm- 1:30am). The Magnificent 7 - Funk, hip hop, disco, house, dancehall, rock and anything else we feel like throwing into the mix (@ various clubs around the city). Colombia! - Classic cumbia, salsa & Afro Latin (@ various venues around the city). Mercy, Mercy Baby - Soul, boogaloo, Brazilian & rocksteady (every 2nd Weds. @ Casanova - free 9pm-2am). Good Friends and Evil Companions - Could be power pop, post punk, samba soul, hip-hop or whatever else I'm in the mood for that night, but it's always a good time!  (every 1st sat. & 3rd thurs @ Dalva, free, 10pm-2am). Behind The Groove - Sweater Funk & Hear The Sounds crew play boogie, electro funk & more @ Koko every 4th Saturday - free 9pm-2am.
Style(s) of music you spin: Depends on the night. Any thing from old Colombian cumbias, new underground hip-hop, boogie disco, 70's & early 80's pop/post punk, dirty soul, funk, Brazilian, salsa, house, dub, dancehall....choose one of my nights, you're bound to find something you'll like.

So what's your story, in 100 words or less? Decided to DJ in Long

Beach, CA. in 1998, when I started my own Latin night. I later became a resident at a local soul club called Get On The Good Foot, then moved to San

Francisco in 2005. Since then I've been paying my dues while trying to

push a grittier & more authentic Latin sound and a funky boogie disco

sound. Thank god I fell in with some of the coolest DJ's in the city!

Not just in the crews I play with, but with the caliber of folks we

have rolling through our nights to hear the tunes. I'm constantly

trying to keep the heads interested and the dancefloor happy.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: "I want your love" - by

James Mason. Cool Chris played this Japanese only 12" cut from the

mid-nineties @ Sweater Funk back in September 2008 when we first

started out, & it just blew our minds! Super sexy mid tempo groover

in that steppers soul style that just builds and builds & yet

cruises along at the same altitude. So damn pimp. I don't own it, yet I

usually start singing it as we break down the Sweater Funk sound system

every week.

Since you mention you love breakfast on your MySpace page, what is your

perfect breakfast? My scramble. Been working on it for years, changing

it slightly here and there. These days it's basically yukon gold

potatoes, eggs, yellow onions, mushrooms, spinach, and pasilla chile

with queso fresco on the side. Nothing special, it's really all about

how fresh the ingredients are. You get 'em from the right market on the

right day.

Musical mantra: Do what you do, cuz that's what you do best. Don't try

to fake it if it ain't your thing. In other words, I'm not trying to

rock some blingin' rap/mash-up/bhangra business. Nothing wrong with it,

it just isn't my thing. There are others who are great at it, I know

what I can rock with and I'm cool with that.

Favorite DJ experience: Dam-funk @ Sweater Funk on February 15th, 2009.

Everyone was screaming for each tune as it was mixed in and clapping as

it ended, a constant barrage of pure excitement and genuine

appreciation. Condensation was dripping from the ceiling, making the

floor slippery, and dancing was chaotic because no one wanted to stop

but it was hard to keep your footing and keep grooving! So many great

tunes played that night!

Worst request: I was playing a Brazilian boogie disco tune that has

always gotten crowds dancing--never had a bad response to this tune.

This woman in the loudest dress in world (looked like Carmen Miranda

headbutted her) walks over to me and asks if I could play something

less cheesy! In that cheesy ass dress!

Most treasured vinyl score: Joe Bataan - "Subway Joe" (Fania - gold

label). It isn't the rarest boogaloo record out there. In fact, you could

even argue that it may be one of the most popular boogaloo records due to the current re-launch of his career and subsequent interest in his back catalog of quality Latin soul, salsa &

boogaloo. This, however, is the record that started it all for me and

remains, in my opinion, the most consistent boogaloo/Latin soul party

record out there.

What other music-related projects are you currently working on? The

Sweater Funk mix CD--our official take on this style of music. Plus

Sweater Funk diet pills, toilet paper, theme park, airline & a

Sweater Funk manual (just like the Wu Tang Clan!).

What elements would your fantasy club night entail?
Seriously? Some

food. Really, get some food in more clubs to keep people dancing and

not just falling over. Used to be they'd have juices bars in discos

back in the day. And some good iced tea. As far as the music, two rooms: Dam-Funk, J-rocc & Kutmah in one room while the other room would have DJ Beto & Quantic playing classic Colombian cumbias & salsa.

What's the idea behind Sweater Funk? My buddy Jon Blunck & I wanted

to do a night in SF inspired by our pal Dam-Funk's night in L.A.,

Funkmosphere. No one would book us to play an entire night of boogie

disco, which is basically disco from '78 to the mid 80's with emphasis

on (but not limited to) handclaps, heavy synth basslines, slap bass, and

lots of love in the lyrics. So Jon Blunck bought a killer sound system

and talked Jackie at Li Po into letting us throw a party there every


We charge no cover, make no money, and we have no promotional

budget. Yet ever since we started, it seems like folks have been coming out of the woodwork for this sound--DJs and dancers alike. It's 80's

funk really, and who doesn't like 80's funk? I dare you to not dance to the

Gap Band or Cameo.

We try to go deeper than the known 80's funk acts

but we certainly don't avoid 'em. You're just as likely to hear Slave or D Train as you are to hear Roundtrip or Wynd Chymes. We've been lucky to attract some of the best DJs in SF to play our night. A

few of these dudes have told us they were nervous playing for us, which

is an unbelievably huge compliment as we're just some record geeks in a basement and these dudes have rocked crowds of thousands. Having said

that, this club is for the dancers, first and foremost. Even if it's

the most obscure record, it's got to be funky. To us, be it an

expensive record or dollar bin find, it ain't worth a damn if it

doesn't make you dance!

How does one gain entry into the Magnificent 7 gang? Eh, they hired me

after I cost them a gig. Not sure if that did the trick but that's how

it went down. I don't recommend you do that as you will have 7 angry

guys to answer to. It's easier to gain entry to a Mag 7 gig (usually

$5) and more fun too!

Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Is my fly down?

Next time we can see you spin:  This Saturday (April 18) @ Dalva - Good Friends & Evil Companions, free -10p.m. til 2 a.m. This Sunday (April 19) @ Sweater Funk in the basement of Li Po Lounge in

Boogie Down China Town! We will have the blinding BEATELECTRIC boys

coming through to fog up the basement with raw rare boogie! hosted by

the Sweater Funk family. Free - 9 til 2.

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Ian S. Port


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