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Thursday, June 23, 2016

DJ and Event Producer Justime on the Importance of Showcasing Local Talent and Keeping Clubs Ego-Free

Posted By on Thu, Jun 23, 2016 at 11:03 AM

click to enlarge KEVIN COOKE
  • Kevin Cooke
Whether it’s throwing events or being behind the decks of clubs and festivals, local DJ and musician Justime has always strived to create an atmosphere of equality and keep radical queer culture alive and thriving in the Bay. Curating events as big as Afterglow or as intimate as his current monthly Afternoon Delight, his ascension in the nightlife scene has come from years steadily throwing underground parties and making sure local talent and culture stays recognized. This week, Justime shares his talents at four different events during Pride, from a Friday afterhours set to closing out the Faerie Freedom Village during the heart of the Pride celebration. We got a chance to ask him about his DJ history, producing events, and what Pride means to him.

Catch him at four different events for Pride weekend: Friday [6/24], at F8, Saturday [6/25] at The Sound Factory, Sunday [6/26] at secret afterhours and closing out the Faerie Freedom Village at the Pride celebration. 

Give us a brief history of how you got into DJing.
I have been a musician since I was 8 years old, and I studied music composition in college. In 2009 I started collecting a lot of obscure dance and electronica records. I would frequent community thrift and local record stores to scour through the used records. I was living in SF, playing guitar, bass and synth in a couple indie music projects and going out to music related events/nightclubs almost every night. A friend let me borrow a second turntable, so I bought a cheap mixer and taught myself to DJ. I still dig through bins of fifty cent records in SF, but these days I have a much better idea of what I'm bringing home.
When did you start producing events?
I have been producing events for more than 10 years, but this is a long and complicated story involving the Boy Scouts of America events when I was 17 and events at hotel bars in Hollywood in my early 20s. So, let me answer your question more specifically. I threw a few underground events in 2010, but the first party I threw in SF that was a huge success was on 11/11/11. It was a house party in the Lower Haight. Multiple bands and DJs performed and we even had Dulce De Leche for a surprise performance. Since then I have stayed very busy with various events, mostly parties.

What's the biggest change you've seen in queer nightlife since you began producing events?
This is hard to answer since so much has changed, but I think the real difference is in SF economy. Many of the artists and service industry people I would see out all the time have moved to cheaper cities, been displaced by eviction, or can't afford as many nights out in month. Many local artists are suffering and this also affects the nightlife community. The 9-5 crowd seems to buy more tickets for festivals and concerts on the weekend, rather than tapping into the important cultural opportunities and connections that are made in dark basements and warehouses after dark. The disco is a very important part of SF culture and I think everyone, regardless of class, race, gender or sexuality should experience what local talent has to offer. Minds will be blown.

Tell us about Afternoon Delight, a monthly you co-produce.
Afternoon Delight is an amazing queer T-dance at The New Parish in Oakland every first Sunday. I produce this party with my close friend, community activist Joshua Smith. The partygoers are very diverse, friendly and always ready to get down on the dancefloor. The vibe is friendly and we have guest DJs, performers, food vendors and art vendors every month. We party in the sunny outdoor space and always take time to decorate so the club looks real cute. Ours next party is Sunday July 3rd from 3-8pm with guest DJs Chris Orr and DJ Dirt (Ships In The Night).

Because you are also a DJ and event producer, what's the most important factor to note when booking a DJ for a party?
This is a great question. I tend to book local DJs with history and talent for prime time slots, those who have been creating community and culture for years. I think it is also important to give opportunity to up and coming talent, so I spend a lot of time connecting with new DJs. It's a very challenging and saturated industry and we like to joke that it sometimes feels like "DJ Wars". I work really hard to help people feel included and supported. Music is about love, connection and a good time, not about status, ego or popularity. The club is not a place to ever make anyone feel self conscious about who they are or what they are sharing with the world.

What has been your favorite track to play ever at a party?
Wow, this is so hard to answer. Getting to play New Order's “Bizarre Love Triangle” in the main room at Afterglow for 1500 people last year was unbelievable. Everyone was singing along and literally jumping up and down. That song strikes a chord in all of us and it was such an emotional weekend with last year's Supreme Court ruling on marriage equality.
Besides making music, you're also chess teacher. How do your two professions intersect?
In chess and in music I am always prepared for opening and end game strategy. I am a very creative person and I can think quickly on the fly. DJing and live performance require you to feel the energy of the crowd and keep pieces moving in the right way to trap your audience in musical ecstasy. I am always thinking many steps ahead, and I think this often surprises the crowd. Chess and music composition are very similar in my head, but it would take quite a lot of time for me to explain this in detail.

You're also working on producing some original tracks this year. Who are some of your inspirations?
My inspirations range in genre from classical to noise, so it really depends what I'm working on specifically. Some of my favorite all-time inspirations include The Books, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Frankie Knuckles, Todd Terry, Ceephax Acid Crew, Daniel Avery, Rrose, Four Tet, Stevie Wonder, The Pointer Sisters, Talking Heads, Lime Alice Coltrain, Phillip Glass, Debussy, Stravinsky, just to name a few.

Besides celebrating Pride at a time where the country has gone through such a horrific tragedy, what messages are you hoping to convey with your various DJ sets?
I am very fortunate to be playing four totally different set times and parties this weekend. Friday night is Ewe Nasty at F8 and I'm closing the party with ethereal Acid and Techno from 2-4am. On Saturday night I am going to play the red room at 'Afterglow Pink Saturday Discoteque', and I'm preparing a witchy house set with hot vocals and constant poly rhythms. On Sunday morning I am rocking a secret after-hours party, where I will play a wide range of daybreak bangers from minimal techno to nu-disco and obscure synth pop. Sunday afternoon I am beyond honored to play the closing set at Faerie Freedom Village hidden in the heart of the pride celebration. I don't want to give all my surprises away, but for this event I'm going global with a fully immersive, healing and mind-blowing celebration of life. I truly believe DJing is a form of shamanism and can be transcendent, healing, and mind-expanding for the event participants. I'm definitely going to take people to these higher places this weekend, regardless of what plane they are on. It is a challenge and honor, considering everything that has happened, but I am definitely going to rock the fuck out! 
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Christina Li

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