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DJ Gordon Waze

Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

DJ Gordon Waze, also half of the DJ duo Helicopter, has been moving and shaking his way through San Francisco with his funky house music and eclectic style. Also as entertainment director for the sophisticated club Vessel, there is no denying that this DJ knows how to please crowds and throw a great party. Sitting down with SF Station, Gordon shares his thoughts on Burning Man, house music, and how this former architect became a successful DJ.

SF Station (SFS): How long have you been DJing?

Gordon Waze (G): Ive been DJing about 10 years.

SFS: What got you into DJing?

G: I love music, even when I was little kid. I grew up in Chicago, I listened to a lot of jazz, blues, reggae, and classic rock; it was a part of how I grew up. I was a kid in the 70s. Classic rock, Zeppelin, all of it, Hendrix. Then I started getting into more electronic music. I used to be an architect. I didnt like it that much. It wasnt really me. I was doing that for a couple years and then I quit. I was DJing on the side and just getting into it. And then I quit to become a full-time DJ and promoter.

SFS: What type of music did you start out playing? Do you think it has it evolved?

G: It has definitely evolved. Conceptually, the base is still there. Whatever music I like is what I pick. I dont just play one genre. I just dont play deep house, minimal, electro, breaks; if I like a song of that particular genre, I pick it out, and it becomes a part of my set. I try to remix a lot of a cappella, instrumentals, etc. A lot of times, like at Vessel for example, I really love underground music, and as a DJ youre playing to lots of situations so its more playing towards the crowd. Ill play a really underground track and put over some a cappella of something people know. That way I can get away with playing music I like and still get away with pleasing the crowd that doesnt understand it.

SFS: You also play in the duo DJ Helicopter. Why the name Helicopter?

G: Aside the (makes spinning motion), theres a few names that Sunwoo and I always liked. Its not about us, its something more. We love Helicopter and it works. But youd be surprised how many people make fun of it. 'Whos Heli, whos Copter?', etc.

SFS: I heard you actually play at Burning Man as well. Tell us about that.

G: I love Burning Man. Ive been going for about 8 years now. Its fun to play Burning Man. There is a camp Ive been a part of for 5 years now. Weve had DJs all over the world playing. And then Ive played at other camps. I dont really go there to gig; I go there to have fun and network. Like at WMC or Burning Man, my goal is to listen.

SFS: Since you have a pretty eclectic palate of influences, who are some of them?

G: The DJs that I like that have influenced me are the same. They play everything from like Miles Davis, Rolling Stones, all the way to full on techno. Guys like Danny Tenaglia, Luciano, and even a lot of local guys. I really like Luciano, for example, who is known as a techno minimal guy, but hell play deep house and disco. Same with Tenaglia. They play so many different styles. Last Thursday we had Francois K, and he plays drum and bass, but the next song is Jimmy Hendrix. When they put that stuff together it blows my mind. After listening to them, I realize I can play the music I really like. My work is nowhere close, but I just like to see them do it. But that question of what kind of music you play is really specific.

SFS: Yeah no one wants to stick to one genre.

G: Well theres a lot of DJs that do that, but you just have to be really good at what you do. For example, Miguel Migs

SFS: So going along with that question, who would be some of your dream collaborations/line-up? Someone you would like to be a part of?

G: Tenagalia, Francois K, Luciano, Dubfire, hes a friend of mine. Hes amazing. All those guys. Local guys too. Some guys are on another planet. Just doing soundcheck with Francois K was amazing. You learn a lot.

SFS: So do you have any mottos you go with for your music? Like Prince says, "The moment I stop creating music, I die."

G: Its sort of in a way of what I said before. Anything goes. I dont have anything particular. Play what you like. Play for the girls. I mean a lot of the situations I play in, you have to make the girls happy. No one wants to play for a room full of guys. Thats a huge motto of mine. Keep the girls happy.

Check out the grand opening of Look Out Weekend at Vessel this Friday and find out more about DJ Gordon Waze at, along with where Helicopter will be next at