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Wednesday, November 27, 2013

DJ Vinroc on East Coast vs. West Coast DJing, Finding New Music Spiritually, and More

Posted By on Wed, Nov 27, 2013 at 1:40 PM


With a career that began at just 10 years old, New York-born DJ Vinroc's musical path has taken him from scratch DJ to producer to, most recently, record label owner. After moving to the Bay Area in 1997, he quickly established himself during the height of the '90s turntablism movement, winning two ITF advancement championships in a row and becoming a member of crews 5th Platoon and Triple Threat DJs. Today, he is still primarily known for his hip-hop roots, but is experimenting with genres under various aliases like Millenium Social and runs his record label, That'sThat. He DJs this Friday, Nov. 29 at Slate Bar and Saturday, Nov. 30 at Luka's Taproom and Lounge in Oakland. We chatted with Vinroc about the evolution of DJ technology, how he finds new music, and the Bay Area DJ scene.

What was the first piece of equipment you remember when you started DJing?

As I recall, I was fascinated by some of the older kids' mobile DJ rigs. I thought it was like the cockpit of a space craft. The lights and sounds were like something out of alien encounters. That was the beginning of my interest in it.

What's your current favorite piece of equipment?

Right now, as technology keeps progressing, my favorite pieces are more software based. I use Ableton live and Protools, as they have replaced most of the hardware I used to use. If I had to pick something in the physical world, I'd say my piano is my favorite instrument in my home.

Being originally from New York, what's a main difference you noticed in East Coast vs. West Coast DJing when you relocated to the Bay in 1997?

There is more attention to the blend here. What I mean is there are so many technically clean DJs. Back East we were influenced by a more energy-based aesthetic, especially in hip-hop. A lot of slamming and scratching tracks in. Talking on the mic. The DJ was more of personality. I personally love both, and it depends what genre you're playing -- that dictates the style.

Since you play so many genres, what's your current favorite?

Right now I love the trap and bass movement. A lot of great artists from Europe especially like Cashmere Cat, Stooki Sound, and a bunch of Soulection stuff.

You are part of a few DJ crews, like 5th Platoon and Triple Threat. Why do you think we hear less and less about crews today?

There are just so many DJs now because technology has made it easy to become part of it. I think new DJs have a "go it alone" mentality because of the competition.

How do you stay on top of all the new music that's coming out? What do you think is the best avenue for doing that?

(Laughs). This is so tough. I actually, on top of digging myself, have some fellow music enthusiasts share Dropbox folders with me. It's almost like the old record pools. But there is just so much music now, it's difficult to concentrate. I'll get flooded with a hundred files and can't really sink in other than the obvious hits that are charting. But at the same time I have so many choices that sound unique. It's a double-edged sword. I like to look at it spiritually a track is brought to my consciousness for a reason. I refer to it as synchronicity.

How did you find the artists for the Yay United compilation?

I reached out to a bunch of like-minded remixers and producers from the Bay I know who I thought could contribute to the project. I love to facilitate opportunities for the folks, and I know that energy comes full circle. I'm working on organizing another volume soon.

Tell us a little about your track "Scenario Bass."

Well, the concept of the Yay United project was to remix club tracks or hits but with a trap influence. There is a big influence in the EDM scene of trap remixes but we wanted to also reflect that with classic or current club or hip-hop tracks with a more urban appeal. I decided to pick a golden era hip-hop track by A Tribe Called Quest just to have a wide range for the DJs to pick from, but everyone was all over the board, so that gave it a very varied appeal. The whole purpose was to have some recognizable material for DJs to play a trap and bass type record for a more club-oriented crowd -- basically a way to sneak in a more avant-garde style of music into current sets.

What do you hope to see more or less of in the local DJ scene here?

I'd love to see more support for new music. But it's a challenge in the Bay. It's smaller market, nightlife-wise, but I think DJs need to take chances. But with so few venues it's difficult to do so and keep working. I myself appreciate DJs who can surprise me.

What's next for you in terms of releases?

I like so many different styles of music that I've realized it's become difficult for me to work under just Vinroc, since I'm mostly known for hip-hop. I hope to be releasing some really eclectic tracks soon. Or maybe I'm just bored of being myself. But I've already released dance tracks under the moniker Millenium Social.

-- @ChrisxtinaLi

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Christina Li


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