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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Feb 25, 2009
Rav-rap is what he calls it, and rave-rap party music is what is served hard and fresh by Bay Area based DJ Havoc. Incorporating filthy grimy rap beats to sexy pop electro, DJ Havoc is one to bring an excellent and original party. Answering questions from SF Station from Canada, while getting ready to fly back to the Bay for Freshly Fitted on Thursday at Double Dutch, DJ Havoc shares his outgoing personality and energetic party vibes.
SF Station (SFS): How did you get into DJing?
DJ Havoc (H): I remember when I was 13, a spun out SF high school freshman convincing my parents that a Techniques Turntable was the instrument for me. At the time I was a fake gutter punk with the heart of a raver. I would spend my lunch breaks with wild workout at noon 96í playing from a walkman into one ear. So when I got home I would turn on the radio, plug in my turntable -- no mixer -- into the amp and try and match beats to the radio. I tried really fucking hard without much success. Some college friends with a proper set up gave me pointers and I watched the DJs at parties I went to in SF and the greater Bay Area underground. I spent 4 years practicing with hip hop, jungle, and DJ Stew-style breaks before I ever played my first gig out.
SFS: So how did you get the name DJ Havoc?
H: I would like to be honest and say that at this moment, on the Greyhound from Vancouver to Seattle, I cannot remember the time it came about. But I do know and have always felt it was very obvious, adolescent angst and I was a drum & bass DJ aiming to crush the Frisco club scene.
SFS: What inspired you to make the type of music you make?
H: For me itís all about energy, not the hippy kind, but like the energy of a song or a chant or a beat or a vibe of the crowd in the room. I would like to believe the music I perform and produce is to purely bring out our animalistic instincts at the party and have a crazy experience that we have never had before. A new high every time and it ainít even got to be about the drugs.
SFS: What differentiates a good party song from a bad one?
H: Thatís all up to your opinion and the crowdís opinion so itís hard to say because every party is different. The vibe of Celebrities in Vancouver this past Tuesday was crazy. College night, straight/gay, 1000+ and that was a night for 4 by 4 dance floor bangers. I have to give credit to Drop the Lime and D.o.D. because "Hear Me" drums of death RMX, was the track of the night. Why? Cause that tune is just fuckiní banginí! It reminds me of early 90s B-Boy breaks when that shit was gangster and artful with a heavy speed garage bass line, thatís sexy. I like my dance party jams just like my hip hop jams just like my other styles. It starts with bass then booty, and glitched out hi-pitch stuff is always cool. I love pop music, but Iím always searching for pop you havenít heard about like The Cataracs' new album which is about to blow fools away.
SFS: You've toured with The Pack and The Cataracs, howís the tour life for a DJ?
H: The Cataracs and The Pack are two separate tours although we were all on tour together; what a sick tour, those kids killed it. It was the time of my life. Touring can be glamorous and difficult, glamorous in your mind and difficult in reality. It's serious work and long hours with pretty shitty accommodations and travel. But the experiences are amazing.
SFS: What are some of your favorite DJs to work with in the Bay?
H: I represent the Compression Crew till I die. Trust me, I got that tatted on my body, but I have tons of fam in SF and the Bay. Mad love to Versus Magazine SF and its artists. They are killer, great dynamic people all bringing something different to the dance floor and Iíll tag team those kids all day long. Itís truly hard to for me to answer this question as I want to give love where love is due but after 10 years of Compression, a couple years at Mighty, and all the nightclubs and bars the list would go on forever. Jayone of Rizatek Records, The Cataracs Kids, Audio Angel, Billy Lane, El Conductor get serious old skool cred' in my book.
SFS: Tell us about your current mix The Last Supper.
H: The Last Supper is about SEX, great sex! About servin' up nuttin' butt booty! It is a representation of everything I love in dance music! Rave-rap is what I have been calling it since the turn of the decade. It is dedicated to the most sexually aligned being on this earth with myself, Sera-Lys, one of the featured models in the photo shoot and one half of the female voices featured in the mix. She and every other hot chick on earth that loves to party and dance is what The Last Supper is all about.
SFS: Where are some clubs people can catch you hanging around?
H: In SF, Iím all about Mighty, circa 2006, me running that bitch along side Pete and Derek. I like Milk, The Cellar with CFox behind the bar and, honestly, Molotovís on Haight Street with the Lower Haighters and Vapor Room heads is where I spend my social time. On some newer shit, Iím feeling Ambassador, Double Dutch, Poleng and a couple others out there. But nothing beats a Monday Night at Tommyís Mexican Restaurant, not a club but the best damn drinking in town.
SFS: What inspires you to stay fresh and innovative, and what are some wise words to the aspiring DJ you can pass along?
H: My ear is what inspires me. Whatever I hear -- it does not matter what genre, what era, what producer, what style, or what the hell you think about it -- itís all about how it makes me feel, in my body. Without progress we become stale and boring. Without new experience, life stands still. I think that is what pushes me to strive for more, better, biggerÖoh, the American way. I live for new experiences, and I have been though a lot, so it takes a banger to get my attention, and when that banger comes around I want to mix it, remix it, mash it, smash it and drop it on the dance floor, stop the track, rewind, two times, yell something fresh and sassy at the crowd, and then drop it again.
Wise words to the aspiring kids out there: Enjoy it, do it cause you love it, and take advantage of what is offered to you in the present, Because it wont last. I know a thousand peeps that were touring rocks stars making 5k plus a month while I was a young innocent raver. By the time I turned 21 the most of them where back behind the bar servin' up drinks or scrappin' by as a fake ass candy man.
Catch DJ Havoc this Thursday at Double Dutch in the Mission and find out more booty poppiní beats and inspiration info at http://www.djhavocsf.com and http://www.lowbrowbeats.com
by Christina Li on Feb 25, 2009