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Friday, February 12, 2016

Sweater Funk's DJ Mamabear on the Sassy Side of Boogie, Drake, and Her Ideal Valentine's Day Plans

Posted By on Fri, Feb 12, 2016 at 10:04 AM

click to enlarge PLAN B
  • Plan B
If spending the eve of Valentine’s Day among Drake lovers wearing Drake masks and drinking Drake-inspired cocktails sounds like a fantasy come true, then there’s no better place to bring out your soft side than this Saturday night at Monarch. Drakeparty.net brings their L.A. party up to the Bay with a line-up of all-star DJs including DJ Mamabear, a former resident of San Francisco and an OG member of the Sweater Funk crew. Currently residing in L.A., you can catch Mamabear sharing her knowledge of the sassy side of funk and boogie on her live radio show The Honey Pot on dublab.

We caught up with Mamabear about her transition from bedroom to club DJ, favorite memories of Sweater Funk, and her opinion of Drizzy. Drakeparty.net is currently sold-out this Saturday [2/13] at Monarch, but look out for chances to win or cop tickets here.

In a few words, share with us your DJ story. 
I’ve been obsessed with music since I could remember. As a babybear I took voice lessons, played trumpet and dabbled in percussion, and my weekly ritual was recording on cassette tape Theo from 92.3 The Beat and the Baka Boyz on Power 106. In high school I would give out mixed CDs in exchange for rides to school. Anytime I saw a DJ, whether it was at a car show or the mall or at my middle school, I was fixated, absolutely entranced. In college, I finally bought two Technic 1200’s and a few crates of Cameron Paul comps and a shitty crate saver 12” from some dude on Market Street. I then locked myself in my room and plugged in the turntable wires and cords until I heard a sound come out of my monitors. It was all trial and error — same for my beat matching. I had doubles of this Too Short record and when I tried to blend them, things were sounding like shoes in a dryer. I just broke down crying because I thought I would never be able to beat match. But I kept locking myself in my room and hours would pass until I made progress. Toph One was the DJ who took me under his wing and taught me how to blend so I could slow records and speed them up the same way as he does (pinching the spindle). He also gave me my first gig outside of my bedroom!

What attracts you to the soul and funk genre?
I grew up listening to The Art Laboe Connection on Sunday evenings. He is a legend in my eyes and is known for playing sweet soul, the lowrider classics. That’s how I discovered the likes of the Delfonics, The Stylistics, Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes etc. I was introduced to Teena Marie and Maze while skating at the roller rink on the weekends, and ever since then I've been into soul music. The lyricism and many times, killer basslines, is what keeps me coming back for more. The deeper I dig, the more I discover that there is nothing sassier than a boogie record. If I am ever in need of a pick-up line, or flirty inspiration, I just reference an Aurra record or Cheryl Lynn. The Whispers have the tightest game ever!

With such a unique DJ name, do you find that people often comment on it or ask its origins?
Most people are pretty tickled when the find out what my DJ name is. Guys usually dig it the most and girls just wanna hug me; maybe it is because I am so tall? Mamabear was a nickname given to me in high school, but Toph One was the man responsible for christening me with my DJ name. I really didn’t have a say.

As a member of Sweater Funk, what’s the best part for you about being part of this exclusive crew?
The best part is that we all lead very different lives, but the common thread is that we are obsessed with soul music. There are 15 of us in the crew; some have kids, some are business owners, 9-5ers, freelancers, men, women, White, Black, Latino, Asian. Outside of Sweater Funk many of us play different parties (like this Drake part I am playing this Saturday for example). But when it comes to ‘80s boogie and 2-step, we all geek out the same. I love traveling with my crew, we have played Chicago a few times and I played with Joe and Lou in Miami during Art Basel. I laugh ‘til I cry with these guys. I am grateful to be a part of a crew that has introduced me to my Sweater Funk sisters: DJ’s Chungtech, Shred One, and Sabrina. Not only can I talk records with them but also they inspire me as women walking through life. 
What has been your favorite Sweater Funk party?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but from the early Sweater Funk days, our first year anniversary party at Li Po lounge in Chinatown when DJ Haircut aka Mayer Hawthorne played. I had never seen so many groupies spilling over the staircase to catch sight of him; the basement was sweatier than ever. It was insufferable! Haircut smashed it-he played a very memorable set, and when he finished just slipped off into the Chinatown fog. He didn’t kick it…he just disappeared.
In recent times, Psychic Mirrors at Elbo Room two years ago solidified my obsession with the band. They are from Miami and funky as hell. We will be bringing them out again for their next tour following their record release this spring. Stay tuned!

Since you spent time in SF and are now based in LA, what's the biggest difference in DJing for each respective city?
There isn’t much of a difference from city to city per se. I play that Sweater Funk sound for most of my gigs here in LA but I miss my crew. If I need my boogie fix, I head to Funkmosphere, which is the party in LA that inspired my crew Sweater Funk. San Francisco is a pretty special place because of DJ's like B.Cause and Primo Pitino, anytime I catch them spin I take notes and zone out in awe.

Tell us a little about your radio show The Honey Pot on dublab.
That is my newest outlet-live radio! Years ago I was a guest on dublab thanks to Danny Holloway, and was always in touch with the station. A few years ago I was offered my own show, but declined because I was splitting my time between L.A. and Vegas. But since my permanent move to Southern California this past March, I asked dublab if the offer was still good, and it was. So every fourth Friday from 8-10 p.m. I host my show called The Honey Pot playing mostly that Sweater Funk sound-boogie, modern soul and 2-step. I’ve had a few special guest mixes by Big Jacks of Toronto, Hothobo of Voltaire Records and R.Cade. All my shows are archived so peep game!

This weekend, you'll be spinning an all Drake party. What Drake song holds a special place in your heart?
As for my favorite Drake song it would be a tie between “Too Much” because of his collaboration with Sampha and “How About Now” because am a fan of songs with voicemails and stunting on exes. I tried to dislike Drake, but I gave up once I realized how soft he is, I dig a sensitive man. Plus, I love Canadians and their country: so much that I am playing in Drakeland aka Toronto with Big Jacks and the Love Handle Crew in April.
And what’s a girl’s ideal Valentine's Day look like?
An ideal V-day would involve a romantic stroll to the taqueria, a ladylike amount of tacos al pastor, and all the sparkling water I could drink. And a butt rub. 
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Christina Li

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