When I started playing bass at 13, I played at least 4 hours a day, as I had to make time for skateboarding, making out with girls, and blowing shit up with homemade explosives. I got the most practice when I was injured from skateboarding, or being grounded, which was constant; unless I broke a finger, or arm.
I was sent to Provo Utah for “Behavioral Modification” When I was 15 for being an absolute shit head, and I was a warden of the courts for pending felony charges like “inciting a riot, grand theft, and arson/possession of a destructive device. After a few months of working their program I was granted 30 minutes a day to play my bass with a few others who also played instruments. The other kids I jammed with would all profess to me how good I was, and that I really should pursue a professional career in music. I usually just laughed in disbelief. I could hear my parent’s voices inside my head, telling me “You’ll never be a rock star!” Then I realized there aren’t a whole lot of 15 year old’s playing Primus “Harold Of The Rocks” or the theme to the 80’s TV sitcom Night Court. I think that was when I had finally realized that I truly loved to play music, and was probably good enough to play professionally in a band or at least session for a living. Four years later, I was touring with an infamous Suicidal Venice band in Tokyo, in front of thousands. I was really fortunate to get the chance at such a young age, and to be mentored by the “adults” that I played with (everyone was at least 15-20 years older than me).
When I was in bands, I tried to practice as long as possible. Playing with others has always been more fulfilling than jamming to a tape or record…until I picked up mixing records, which is a story in itself. I could literally mix records for days on end with the right combination of records and “agents.” I don’t read music at all. Nor do I read about it. It all came from practical experience. With jamming, or going out to events I either attended, or produced, came networking.
As far as practicing nowadays, I spend about 4 hours a week playing bass, unless I have a session. Then I can practice, or record 8-10+ hours daily. The only practice I get as a DJ, is when I play DEATH II DISCO. It’s the one monthly event where I can experiment with the crowd and not worry too much about it since It’s my event, and it’s free!
Stevie Wonder is my biggest musical influence. The fact that he played every instrument on his first albums, with a vision, but no eyesight. WOW! Les Claypool is my bass hero. He taught me that there are no rules to music, and that a bass player can lead a band, that you can blend genres of rock, funk, country, and jazz and still be original. I can’t forget to mention Nile Rodgers, he has written and produced almost all of my favorite songs that have translated well over to House. Every time I hear Chic “I want your love” I go nuts! If I’m comfortable enough, I break out crying while “trying” to sing. I love it so much!
As far as House Music goes, my biggest influences of DJ’s are Derrick Carter, DJ Heather, Diz, and Mark Farina in an ever changing order. Frankie Knuckles for obvious reasons. Not to say that Francios K, or Laurent Garnier aren’t huge for me as well, I just love the raw style of Chicago House. Locally, I love Doc Martin, Wally Callerio, and of course, Marques Wyatt. They are L.A Staples for a reason, and all 3 play so differently from each other, but also play so well together. They are all so passionate, and appear extremely grateful to be where they are, but they earned it! All of them and people like Tony Powell, or Tony Largo are an institution to L.A. They have been guiding me, musically, for almost 20 years.
Some, advice that I would give or, that I wish I had heard when starting my musical journey is:
#1: Be true to yourself. Meaning just be you. Play what you want, how you want. Yes, you’re playing for a crowd you want to appease, but trying to placate your audience by being safe, and pigeonholing yourself to playing what you think they want to hear because of who else is on the ticket that night is not the answer. They’re here to hear you do what you do, so DO IT!
#2 Learn about what your playing. If you want to be more sincere to the genre, know where the samples are from. Know the instruments used. Maybe take up an instrument. It’s great to know how to mix, but being a record player-player to me isn’t being much of a musician. Being a great DJ because you understand how music is made, and perhaps some theory will only help you and your program.
#3: Patience is a virtue. I picked up DJing in 1999. It took me over 15 years to get to a place where I’m asked to be booked, and people know what/how I play. It’s not that I couldn’t run around town screaming “I’m a DJ!” on every smoking patio of every club or warehouse 10+ years ago. I didn’t confess to being a DJ, because I didn’t feel I was ready to join the gazillion others who thought they were, but have now disappeared into other careers and are long forgotten. Also, Have you seen the “eye-roll” by anyone who hears the phrase “I’m a DJ”? You’re a DJ when people start calling you a DJ. Personally, I prefer, and consider myself a musician who very much enjoys mixing house and disco.
Looking forward, Craig Law and I are working on putting out a new Deepfunk release, and revamping the label. We’re probably starting with a “15 Years OfDeepfunk” compilation with some remixes of our favs, and some special edits from notable players we have heard over the years from our heroes. I have a birthday party at DEATH II DISCO July 8th, with another huge influence, J-Dub from Chicago which I’m very excited about. I remember his soulful funk at parties like Melodic or Dynagroove. He is a phenomenal DJ/producer, and just a really nice guy!
On July 21st, I’m making my debut at Unity in Hollywood, which I am ecstatic for. The support Christy Mills & Chris “Mr. Bootsauce” Nalbandian have bestowed on me is so real, and heartfelt. THANK YOU’s! You gotta love em! Lastly, I’m playing my final birthday soiree at the Disco Does It 1 year anniversary with very special guests July 23rd, with my new found brother from another mother Kenny Summit @Cure and the Cause.