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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Jan 21, 2010
DJ KidHack, founder of promotion and talent collective Future Universal and parties like Super Ego, has been in the business of throwing parties since the 90s rave scene. A tireless DJ who does what he loves, his efforts can be seen everywhere from Bootie to Academy of Sciences: Nightlife. KidHack recently sat down with SF Station for an interview.
SFS (SF Station): How did you come up with your DJ name?
KH (KidHack): Oddly Enough, it used to be my phone number in college. I was a pretty big nerd and used to be into hacking and phreaking [the phone equivalent of hacking]. In college I wanted a phone number that reflected this, so I asked for LILHACK. LILHACK wasn't available, but KIDHACK was. I started telling people — to their confusion — that our phone number was KIDHACK. That soon turned into people calling me KidHack as a nickname. I figured it was more interesting than the DJ name I had at the time, Entrance, especially since I didn't spin trance anymore. Honestly, I'm not a kid anymore, so I'm at odds with my name.
SFS: How long have you been at this art?
KH: I've been connected to music all my life. I think classical was played for me in the womb. When I was little, I would to go into the closet where my parents kept the "hi-fi" to mix compact discs and record my voice onto tapes pretending I was a radio DJ.
In high school, my group of friends started an Audio Visual Club and hosted the school dances as well as various house parties. Right around that same time, in 1996, we all started going to raves. We were so inspired by them, we started doing lighting for raves and throwing our own raves in Sonoma County. I started spinning psychedelic trance, hence the name Entrance.
After losing most my vinyl to the heat of sun one afternoon, I started looking to MP3s. At the time, 1999, there was no way of beat matching MP3s, but I made it my passion to DJ digitally. I used to haul around a Mac desktop and monitor for DJing at events. It was quite ridiculous. After high school I went off to college in San Luis Obispo and started a pirate radio called The Station. After moving back to the Bay Area in 2004, The Station, which transmitted at 500 watts and had a webcast, was busted by the FCC. Since moving back I've tried to have as much fun as possible, throwing parties and DJing where I can.
SFS: What inspired you to start Future Universal?
KH: I wanted to feel more connected to the music scene in San Francisco. I had a few SF events under my belt and had DJed with some really good people, but I wanted to feel that sort of team feeling I had with the Audio Visual Club, as cheesy as it sounds.
It's a lot of work to be out there on your own promoting events, but with a few friends a lot of that burden is lifted. It's like cleaning up after a big dinner, if everyone helps, it's much easier. It has been about a year since we started and we've accomplished some great things. I can only assume it's going to get even better.
SFS: I see you've toured around the world. Any crazy stories?
KH: Well some of the craziest things happen at home, when you're not on guard. We had a gun pulled on us at one of the first raves we threw right up in little Sebastopol while I was behind the decks. Luckily no one was hurt.
When I was in Thailand, I was DJing at a beachside club on Koh Pangang. The DJ setup was behind the bar and the manager was being really awkward about me being back there. He seemed angry and was glaring at me. I thought he didn't like the music I was playing or something. It turned out the place was run by Thai mafia and they were selling drugs from behind the counter. I think he was afraid I going to steal drugs or that his boss would see this white boy back there and freak out or something. Anyway, I try not to have crazy things happen while DJing, but when I'm not DJing, that's a different story.
SFS: Who are some of your favorite artists to play and party to?
KH: I really try not to play the same stuff over and over again. I love throwing house parties so I can play whatever I feel like, from 90s hip hop to disco. In the clubs I find myself trying to find new ways of putting the longtime favorite artists into my more underground sets. I love The Prodigy, Vitalic, Simian Mobile Disco, Jamiroquai, The Knife, Underworld, Major Lazer, The Rapture, Busta Rhymes, Nine Inch Nails — all relatively pop stuff.
As far as dance music goes, I've been really into minimal techno and deep house lately, but I also play a lot of electro. I've been using an interesting tool created by Richie Hawtin. It posts what I'm playing to a twitter feed, provided I have a WiFi signal. I wouldn't recommend following the feed unless you want to see every track I play.
SFS: What’s in store for 2010?
KH: I'm not sure what's going to happen, and that makes it so exciting. Future Universal seems to be escalating. We're going to be hosting Bootie's electro lounge once a month and we are the first group to be asked back to the Academy of Science: Nightlife. All our DJs are very active and are off starting new projects, whether it is new music or new events.
[I]See DJ KidHack at his next gig on January 26th at Cat Club. Visit him online at http://www.djkidhack.com or on Twitter @kidhack.
by Christina Li on Jan 21, 2010