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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Dec 31, 2009
Since getting his first record player at two years old, DJ 4AM seemed destined for the decks. Going through the path of mixtapes, college radio, and house parties, his driven nature has gotten him to where he is today. Playing a variety of genres and venues, DJ 4am shares with SF Station his inspiration for rocking parties along with some crazy stories.
SF Station (SFS): What made you decide on the name 4am?
DJ 4AM (4AM): I originally went by DJ Superfly — the Curtis Mayfield LP changed my life when I was in high school — then around 1995-1996 a rapper came out named Sooperfly. It was too close so I decided to change my name. I wracked my brain about a new name for a few weeks until one night I was up late as usual and glanced at the clock, and it was 4am. It just seemed right.
I'm a pretty surreal, heady kind of guy and four in the morning is a pretty surreal and heady time of day. It's the darkest hour before dawn, plus if you've been up all night making conversation and 4am rolls around, that's when the conversation tends to get a bit strange.
SFS: You play an eclectic range of sounds, which one do you enjoy the most?
4AM: It's really based on my mood; I enjoy all the styles I play in a different way. Sometimes I just want to play experimental noise mixed with dub and effects, or boom-bap hip-hop, or a psyche rock set, or a Lowrider Oldies night, or sometimes I want to check my brain at the door and rock a top 40 night with sprinkles of classic hip-hop and whatever curveballs feel like fun at the time. It's all fun for me. There really are not many things on this earth as fun as DJing.
SFS: Any crazy DJ stories you'd like to share with us?
4AM: There are too many! I remember one night when I was playing at a spot in my hometown of Fresno with my old-school crew The Beat Dynasty called Zapp's Park. If you look up "dive bar" in the dictionary, odds are you'll see a photo of this place. I was playing hip hop and electronic music and this scary old drunk lady kept asking for 60s rock. She also played harmonica along with everything I was playing. I finally asked her to leave me alone, and next thing I know she's got me in a headlock and is stabbing me with her harmonica... Ahhh, good times.
SFS: What inspires you?
4AM: I love to hear an artist that's really at the top of their game. When it's real, it's just on another level. Great music is a snapshot, a Polaroid. It's a time, a place, a mood, a state of mind, it's what the artist had for breakfast that day, and a combination of an infinite amount of factors. It can be duplicated but never replicated.
I also get a lot of inspiration from books. I recently got into a turn of the century Scottish author named David Lindsay. His book "Voyage To Arcturus" is one of the most amazing things I've ever read. I feel like my original work is structured a lot like a book with themes and chapters leading to a conclusion and containing an overall mood and concept.
SFS: How about your musical projects, like the newest "Astronomy"?
4AM: I either work on a project for functionality, like my series of re-edits, or to highlight something I'm passionate about, or simply because something needs to come out of me. I have a basic need to express thoughts and ideas, and it's very important for me to have creative outlets. "Astronomy" was one of those things where I was walking down Haight Street and a thought flashed in my head that basically said that I needed to make a new album. Things like that just happen to people that walk on the creative side. It's a hard thing to nail down — a gift really. "Astronomy" was done in a week and the process is a blur.
SFS: Any New Year’s resolutions?
4AM: I resolve to enjoy my life, the company of great people, and the beauty and complexity of this world. I also resolve to be a positive and creative force and to join a gym — my abs need some serious help.
Visit DJ 4AM online at http://www.4amsounds.blogspot.com
by Christina Li on Dec 31, 2009