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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Sep 30, 2010
DJ Dials was always a musical kid, even after being kicked out of band camp, but he truly found his calling after witnessing a DJ cut and scratch to music at 12 years old. A DJ who is willing to perform get behind the decks at almost every type of party, from house to hip hop, he’s constantly pushing himself to make innovative mixes and mashups that surprise his listeners. Check him out every Tuesday at the Change the Beat party at SOM, and on Oct. 15th at the Compression 11 year anniversary at 103 Harriet.
SF Station (SFS): Tell us about Change the Beat parties.
DJ Dials (D): Basically, it's a beat oriented, tastemaker party where the DJs are selectors. Centipede always likes to say "the stage is ours" at Change the Beat — it's a place for the DJ to explore new sounds, try out new remixes, and play stuff that they wouldn't ever be able to at any other club.
What's amazing is that this actually happens. About a year ago, Centipede asked me to re-start the party with him as his partner to really help get things going. We joined forces with local heartthrob Salva (of FriteNite records) and we have a slew of new residents, including Mr. Dibiase, a beatmaker from Los Angeles, and Low Limit from Lazer Sword. Through great booking and help from one of the best clubs in town, we were able to get 200+ people a week every Tuesday, listening to weird and eclectic beats, funk, soul, dubstep, garage, UK funky, and anything that we wanted to play.
SFS: You’re fairly prolific with your mixes. What is one of your favorites?
D: I met this girl and got really inspired by her and made her a mixtape called "Eyes Closed." It's a mixtape of all beautiful music — music that you would listen to with your eyes closed. I spent forever on it, compiling and listening to all this beautiful ambient and classical music. It took a really long time and some blood, sweat, and tears but I am really proud of the final product, mostly because every song on it means something to me and it was a sincere act of love to make it. She liked it too!
SFS: Wow. Have you ever played a cliché wedding party?
D: All the time. I've been DJing for longer than half my life, so I've done it all. I’ve toured Europe and played things like proms, car shows, tradeshows, weddings, Bat Mitzvahs, you name it. I usually don't mind, but the last wedding I did was really awful. Really crappy people that didn't dance, they stiffed me on my rentals, and the father of the bride was a jerk. He asked me to play four Sinatra songs in a row, which is fine, but he was just mean about it. Don't be mean about requests.
SFS: What goes through your mind when you remix people like Joy Orbison and Lil Wayne together? How do you choose?
D: That's the remix that I got a lot of attention for last year. I chose those two songs because they are in the same key, and they are the same tempo so it's like PB&J. I was doing blends before the whole mashup craze that happened. Then it got stupid and ugly. Mashups used to be called blends and you used to do it with vinyl. It was called DJing. That was fun.
After the Girl Talk album came out, I was pretty much over it. Nowadays if something comes into my head and it's a good concept I'll still make it, I just try to be a little more classy and a little more creative. No more cheeseball stuff. The Joy Orbison song is a real anthem and my remix got tens of thousands of downloads and a lot of play all over the world.
SFS: Do you find anything wrong with the current scene?
D: People can get out of control and hate on each other. That’s a bummer. I'm a big loudmouth, and I can say the wrong thing, but I don't have any bad intentions. At the end of the day, I'd rather work with people and be friends with everyone than step on toes and push people around or be fake-nice in person and then talk shit on the Internet. What's important to me isn't money or notoriety but rather to just make something special for everyone. This city isn't too small, there are so many people that want and need to be exposed to quality nightlife culture, it's just that some promoters are lazy and promote to the same tired crowd over and over.
If I could change anything, I'd say just to get promoters talking to each other and working together more, because usually it's just miscommunication, right? .
SFS: Do you have any big upcoming Halloween plans?
D: Halloween is the greatest thing, ever. I love it. October is like Halloween month. I love it so much that a few years ago I made a 2 hour all Halloween music mixtape, called dialoween it's on my shitty website for download. Check it out!
Visit DJ Dials online at http://rivaldials.com/
by Christina Li on Sep 30, 2010