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Thursday, January 5, 2012

DJ Theory on the Success of Moombahton, Its Burgeoning Subgenres, and the INTL Party

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2012 at 4:00 AM


With the explosion of moombahton on the electronic music scene in the past two years, DJ Theory made a name for himself within the genre through appearances on the Moombahsoul series, original moombah-inspired remixes of Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, and by starting one of the first local moombahton parties, The INTL. At 108-110 beats per minute, moombahton is a relatively young genre accidentally invented by Dave Nada of Nadastrom in the fall of 2009, and has already broken off into subgenres like moombahcore, moombahsoul, and boombahchero. All Shook Down spoke with DJ Theory about how he began his career, his affinity for moombahton, and the future of The INTL parties. He will be playing at The INTL this Saturday (Jan. 7) at Public Works, and opens for David Heartbreak at Monarch on Jan. 21.

Give us a little background on how you started DJing.

I first started DJing when I was a freshman in high school. I had a friend who was a bedroom DJ and, while he was still enrolled as a student, taught a popping and locking class at the performing arts school we went to. He'd let me mess around with his turntables sometimes while we were on "breaks" [laughs], and I fell in love with every element of DJing. I was also going to a ton of raves at the time and was fascinated by how a DJ could bring so many people together and make them all move and get nuts. That's still what I'm going for today.

How did you come up with your DJ Theory moniker?

Well prior to my current name, I was known in New England as "Tactic," a teenager that spun primarily drum 'n' bass and jungle at raves and house parties. As I started getting deeper into hip-hop and other genres like funk and disco, I felt that a new name would be in order, something that I could stick with for the long haul. Although it was somewhat chosen at random in the beginning, it quickly stuck, and many of my friends just started calling me Theory.

How did you get into the moombahton genre?

We found each other at a good time, when I was looking for something new and it was just what I needed without even knowing it. It's one of the only electronic/dance genres where you can just be yourself without getting pigeonholed. Of course, there's already subgenres stacking up, but being that it's still so new and relatively unadulterated, there's a lot of room for creativity, development, and just doing you. It also combines reggaeton, dancehall, heavy bass, Latin, big room dance, baile funk, B'more club, R&B. I mean, how could you not fuck with it?!

Why do you think this genre caught on like wildfire, and is now a prominent feature in dance music today?

It's one of those things where you know a person will love something, even if they have no idea what it is. Within the subgenres there's something there for everyone, whether it's deep and moving moombahsoul, dark and growly moombahcore, grown and sexy moombahluv, or the pitched-down, high-energy bleepy, bassy O.G. moombahton that exploded worldwide in 2010. It also helped that originators like Nadastrom, Sabo, and Munchi, and folks like Diplo, Ayres, Laidback Luke, and Tittsworth were putting their stamp on it by producing, playing, and remixing tunes and other homies' tunes in their sets, throwing parties, and discovering new talent across the globe. The movement has literally just begun and will only continue to grow and evolve in 2012.

What direction do you see moombahton heading in 2012?

Everywhere. Bubbling further in the underground, and crossing over into the mainstream more and more. That can be good and bad; there are a lot of folks quick to get on board, which means we need to maintain quality over quantity. I'd like to see more cities taking charge with throwing events as well, it's the only way this genre will really reach people in the way it's intended to.

You've put out some great tunes this year, especially on the Moombahsoul releases. How does moombahsoul distinguish itself from other moombahton genres?

Moombahsoul was brought to the global audience by DJ/producer David Heartbreak, and I was honored to be a part of each volume. With a genre moving so fast, you could literally hear the evolution from one installment to the next -- even though they were released only months apart. Moombahsoul is the deeper cousin of moombahton, often drawing elements from classic and modern soul and R&B music. I'm hoping to hear more original moombahsoul production soon. The deeper, sexier sound will be out in a big, big way this year.

You also do remixes of artists like The O'Jays. How do you choose which songs to remix? The O'Jays - Now That We Found Love (Theory re-chunk) by DJ THEORY

It's more like they choose me. I'll be listening to something and it will hit me that there's a part of it that just needs to get touched. Sometimes it's an entire song that I'll edit for myself and other DJ's sets, or sometimes just a small piece of a melody or vocal sample. I have notes on notes of songs that I'd like to flip; it's just a matter of getting around to them. Plus, I plan to continue doing as many official remixes as possible. I'll stay making bootlegs though. I come from a sample-based hip-hop background, so I'll always be chopping and sampling.

Are you planning on releasing any EPs in 2012?

I'm afraid that's on a "need-to-know basis" [laughs]. No, I am for sure, you can expect to see a ton of new material from me this year. Right now there's more moombahsoul originals and edits on deck, as well as new mixtapes, collaborations, and surprises.

Tell us a little about The INTL party. What gave you this idea to start this type of party?

Public Works is an awesome venue and very up on underground and cutting edge music, so when they hit me up to get involved with a new party there, it was a no-brainer. S.F. needed a home for moombahton and global bass music on a regular basis, and The INTL has become exactly that.

How does name The INTL represent your party?

There's a ton of good music in the world, and if it will make you shake your ass, we want it on our dancefloor. Our goal is to include dance music from different regions of the world that you wouldn't normally hear in the club. Although the party is heavily moombahton-based, we're also aiming to include bits of U.K. funky, kuduro, bashment, Afro, cumbia, baile funk and anything else that strikes our interest in global bass music.

How has its reception been? Does it fit in with S.F.'s palette of parties?

Most definitely. S.F. has a very wide palette when it comes to parties -- we're just a very small city, so it can be a challenge to get the folks out sometimes, because there's just not that many people here! Folks have been riding with us thus far and showing a lot of love, so being that this is still a new party, we're all stoked on the support. We have Jillionaire coming up on Feb. 9, so that should help get this year moving in fine style.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown, follow Christina Li @ChrisxtinaLi, and like us at

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