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DJ Big Bad Bruce

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Having been around the San Francisco scene longer than the youngest club-goer has been alive, itís no wonder DJ Big Bad Bruce has an unrivaled reputation for always bringing a consistent and positive party. Playing great party music since the 70s, he has seen the ups and downs of the club scene and is a definitive San Francisco staple. Taking time for a phone interview with SF Station, Big Bad Bruce shares his wise thoughts and experiences.

SF Station (SFS): So how long have you actually been DJing?

Big Bad Bruce (B): Twenty-five years!

SFS: What got you into DJing?

B: It was way back in college, back in the 70s. I specifically started in '77 back in New York. I was at a college party, and I was playing records because I donít drink. I remember one of the first songs I played was Earth Wind and Fire and I just watched people dance. From that point on, I was hooked. I actually played in a club back in New York in the disco era, and again, watching the crowd, I was hooked.

SFS: What brought you from New York to California?

B: I came in search of true love and happiness in 1986. But that never happened so I got my first DJ job in 1986 in Sunnyvale. I started playing in San Francisco in 1992 at the DNA Lounge. From then till now, Iíve played in 40-50 clubs. It goes from spinning at Release at 1015 for 12 years to starting at Starlight Room in '94.

SFS: Tell us a little about your residency at the Starlight Room.

B: When Sebastien put Indulgence together, his plan was to get a good group of people and to have everyone share the love and have a good time. Thatís what our concept has been all these years. Iím used to playing all kinds of music. Indulgence is all about the concept to indulge in a diverse party, have a good time, and stay positive. Itís one the best spots in the club scene. We donít cater to one scene. I really will play anything and everything. Tourists come all over the world. If they come from Australia and they want to hear some of their music, sometimes I just might have it. I mix it up.

SFS: So this is not what you do full time?

B: I actually have done it full time. There was period from 1996-2004 where I had a residency for four days out of the week. I was Fluidís first DJ. So it went Starlight Wednesdays, Fluid Thursdays, Roe and Suite One8One Fridays, and Saturdays at 1015 Folsom.

SFS: I take it that lifestyle is really busy.

B: It was a very busy lifestyle! I was pretty wanted, and right now Iím still pretty wanted. For some of the big promoters, I was their first DJ. Probably 80% of promoters in San Francisco started with me.

SFS: How do you pick which parties to DJ at then?

B: I donít pick, they pick me. I can honestly say there wouldnít be a day where I wouldnít have a job. Iím very consistent and reliable. I set a really high standard for DJs in San Francisco. You just have to stay positive all the time

SFS: How do you know how to get a crowd going?

B: One of the most difficult things is that you canít please everyone. Whatís important is to follow the bar. You can pack up the dancefloor but donít try to always keep them on the floor. You have to think of it as business. Keep the promoter happy and donít give them a hard time. Listen to people. Sometimes people are afraid to approach me but they can ask for requests. I am very approachable. Donít be afraid!

SFS: Which are some of the hottest artists you play right now?

B: T-pain, Kanye will always get you on the floor. It's timing. This whole DJ world is about timing. Itís knowing when to play the right tracks and when to pull them back. To me, I treat music like sex. Foreplay, climax, and a cool down. You just gotta know these things. For example, when itís time to close you donít want to have your dancefloor packed.

SFS: Since you have been around to witness the changes in music from disco and pop, do you believe that there is lack of originality in music today?

B: Well, no. There are still a lot of original artists getting melodies from 70s and 80s. Iíve learned to decode everything like what Pharrell does. I just think too many people have opinions about music itself. If you like it, thatís good. If you donít, you donít. Lots of B-sides songs donít make it on the radio but theyíll make it in the club. Itís just all about playing songs your crowd likes, if they donít dance to it, you just gotta switch it up.

SFS: What kept your staying power on the party scene and what would you attribute your successes to?

B: I give the people what they want. Iím here for the love of music and am consistent with what I play. I like to see people party and have a good time; the audience has always been friendly nothing and thereís nothing like San Francisco fans. San Francisco people, theyíre just the greatest.

Donít be shy to request a song from Big Bad Bruce at the latest Sebastien Indulgence party or every other Sunday at the MatrixFillmore and check out his MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/djbigbadbruce.