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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Nov 06, 2009
Moving out from New York to the Bay Area in the summer of 1999, DJ Chucky Brown has been on the San Francisco club circuit for the past decade. A party-rockin’ veteran with numerous memorable moments under his belt, Chucky Brown shares with SF Station his insight on music and life in SF.
SF Station (SFS): How did you get started DJing?
Chucky Brown (CB): My dad was a record collector and my mom used to party at Studio 54, so I was always surrounded by music. Other than collecting records, my true start as a DJ was in college at WWVU-FM in Morgantown. It was more of a radio jock; the actual mixing and party rocking came later.
SFS: I see that you grew up in the NYC club scene, how does it compare to San Francisco's club scene?
CB: I used to be a regular at Dancetaria, Paladium, The Deep, and The Tunnel back in the early 90s. At that time, only club people — people who danced, did drugs, loved music, were into fashion, degenerates, etc. — were part of the scene. At present, little can compare, because going out is now for the masses. With that said, of all the places in the U.S. where I have partied, SF is the closest you will come to a 90s club vibe. This is a great place for nightlife.
SFS: Do you do this full-time? What's one thing about the DJ life that is often misconstrued, besides the fact that you guys never sleep?
CB: Full time, yes. Yeah, we don’t sleep much at night, but all day is a good time to sleep. Probably the thing that most people outside the business do not understand is how much work it takes to get booked. That is the real work. It is all about who you know, and the skill part is really secondary. That is tough to believe, but true.
SFS: Your favorite personal tracks to spin?
CB: Currently, I am a big fan of anything rock — the Black Kids, Miike Snow, Bag Raiders, Datarock, and much more. You can check out these types of artists on my radio. My personal favorite music of all time is classic house. David Guetta is cool, but more like Ten City, Lidell Townsell, Satoshi Tome, Members of the House, Robinson-wall Project, Shelter Records, Miguel Migs and the likes.
SFS: You spin mostly hip hop. What do you think about the blending of so many genres these days? Electro hip hop seems to be pretty popular these days.
CB: Yeah, the popular thing is for these R&B artists to put out up-tempo electro-sounding tracks. Needless to say, most of it is pure garbage. But, I play it and crowds move and love it; you gotta do what you gotta do. As far as blending genres, that is what party rocking is all about. One time I played a gig at Backflip back in 1999. It was supposed to be hip hop, but I played the crowd a little of everything. The crowd loved it, but when I tried to get booked again, the club hated it. Nowadays, everyone plays multi genres. I am one of the originators of this style in SF, and I fully back the crowd-rocking experience.
SFS: Do you like requests?
CB: Most DJs hate them; I love them. It makes the job really easy. The bargain is I play the song, and they scream, dance, and jump up and down. It's a fair trade. But, if your request clears the dance floor, I will make sure everyone in the club knows it was you who requested it.
SFS: What separates you from other DJs?
CB: I play music others don’t. It’s really simple, but for some reason it is true. Also, when I mix a party-rocking, multi-genre set, I put it together where each song has a connection. That is something a lot of other DJs do not understand. Also, something that I think is very important; I go out and listen to other DJs. If you don’t do that your inspiration will be limited.
SFS: What words of inspiration can you share with the younger generation?
CB: Words of wisdom — this is an art — anyone can do it, but few can do it well. Go out, buy tables, and practice, practice, practice. Do not work “out” until you know you are good. Never play for free. Find a DJ that will mentor you; club owners and promoters will not look out for your interest.
SFS: Lastly, any plans to release new mixes? And where do you usually spin these days?
CB: I do a party at Ambassador on 2nd and 4th Wednesdays. We do a live recording of thebrooklynradio.net show called The Shake Up. Also, I work a lot with Tony and Sebastien at 5A5 and Roe.
Visit Chucky Brown’s radio show at http://www.brooklynradio.net/the-shake-up, or visit his Facebook page for information on upcoming gigs.
by Christina Li on Nov 06, 2009