|Related Articles: Clubs, All|
Last Night, A DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Oct 22, 2008
Rising out of the 90s Drum 'n Bass scene in San Francisco, Smoove quickly became a fixture on the underground Breakz circuit. These days his signature power-funk Breakz sound can be heard every weekend all over San Francisco's night life, from underground warehouse parties to his residencies at The End Up, 1015 and Mighty, along with being voted Best DJ 2008 by the readers of the S.F. Bay Guardian.
In 2004 he, along with Donna Matrix, started publishing the underground magazine NewsBreakz and more recently is set to launch NBz 2.0 the online version in late 2008. Simply put, Smoove is one of the quintessential tastemakers in the San Francisco Breakz scene today and can always be relied on to bring a big party fun sound that makes the crowd go giddy on the dance floor. And he's also your girlfriend's favorite DJ.
SF Station (SFS): You know I just interviewed J-Boogie last week
Smoove: Oh really?! Honestly, I get asked this question all the time but hands-down he is my favorite DJ in the Bay Area. Every time I hear him, he is money in the bank!
SFS: So what is the story behind the name "Smoove?"
Smoove: Oh god, that question. Itís kind of a funny story. Well when I first moved to the city I was just beginning to DJ and I also played the bass guitar in a band. It was the mid-90s so it was still kind of cool. One of my bandmates worked at a guitar manufacturing company. It was basically a bunch of dudes making guitars; they all had this very homo-erotic prison sense of humor, constantly taking jabs at one another.
After work, I would go over and pal around after hours. They gave me the nickname Smoove-Boy, under the premise that they imagined me dressing up in drag and picking up on dudes in tranny bars with the catchphrase, "do you like Smoove Boy?" At the time we thought it was hilarious.
SFS: Itís still pretty hilarious now.
Smoove: Itís just that strange kind of joke when youíve stayed up drinking. I guess it just got shortened down. The very first time I used it, I didnít take myself as a DJ seriously. It also came from high school when I was a weird gangly kid. Bad skin, huge feet. I was the kid that tripped over his own feet. Just horrible, I didnít listen to the right music, I was from Palo Alto. For me in that area, I felt like I was like a sore-thumb. I felt like an outsider. I think once I came up to San Francisco, I feel like I blended in. So I asked myself, if you reinvent yourself, who would you want to be?
SFS: Which venues do you like?
Smoove: The End-up. I LOVE THE END UP. I also love Mighty, Iíve always loved Mighty. Itís a weird room; you never know what youíre going to get into there, but most of the time you end up with a bunch of your friends. I love their lookÖyou walk into an oddly shaped warehouse and just lean up against the wooden wall. Thereís something very rock ní roll about that place.
SFS: Tell me about Newsbreakz:
Smoove: It was started by me and my friend Miranda back in 2003. At the time, Breakz was still associated with underground party music. I think back then it was much more alive. A bunch of things that come together to make a perfect storm system. Basically, after 2am, people would party in warehouses, weird lofts, etc. There were a lot of DJs, a lot whom were our friends. So Miranda and I sat around, talking shit about this person and that person, who broke up with who, cheating on someone else, it was fun, like sports shit-talking.
For some reason, we both had this idea, we both sat up and said we should write this down and start a magazine. We found a graphic designer, and had a really good time doing it. It was really a lot of fun, the paper version. However, in the next few months, me and Renee, another one of the editors, are going to be launching Newsbreakz 2.0, with more of a blog format, but with the same level of writing, I mean same level of shoddy journalism. Itís the same thing but easier for everyone to read. The printed magazine was great, thereís always something to be said about the hard copy and it lives on in peopleís bathrooms, where we always intended it to end up.
SFS: But people actually read in the bathroom!
Smoove: Very true, we keep the articles short like People magazine, just to hold peopleís attention. But now, I think with our writing and readership, doing an online thing just makes sense. So it will launch in late 2008.
SFS: I saw you were voted Best DJ by the SF Bay Guardian, how does that feel?
Smoove: It feels great because Iím getting paid more. You know what? Iím the same DJ, and nothing like happens; its part of DJing in the city. But also being on the dream team for nitevibe.com, is definitely great as well. But sometimes someone comes up and says "youíre the greatest DJ" and sometimes someone says "you suck my ass." But you got to take both with same sense of humor, but also I think the level of work in San Francisco is very high. Dance music, itís a very competitive game, all of us that are out there play the records, play opening/closing clubs, basements, basically just busting our asses. So when someone takes the time to say "I like you," thatís cool.
SFS: What do you like about the Bay?
Smoove: The ass. Itís like ass-a-palooza.
SFS: It is the U.S. city with the most singles.
Smoove: Everyone has a really nice ass! I think itís walking up the hills and biking. Ok now for the serious question. Everyone has really hyper creative despositions. Thatís the reason why Silicon Valley exploded, and back in the 60s, psychedelic rock was located in SF. Itís something about that mindset and temperament that works in this area. Being in my line of work, itís a real treat, to entertain people that work really really hard and who also want to play really hard. Itís neat being around these people, who are always talking about different ideas and inspiring me to be more creative as well. We all feed off each other.
SFS: How would you describe your sound?
Smoove: Breakz. Recently Iíve been hearing a lot of disco-Breakz. There are producers like Plaza de Funk and Grand Theft Audio, some of them Spanish, and theyíre just making these break tracks that are a lot of disco, and has a lot of bounce to it; itís great. So I guess Iím playing disco Breakz. To be honest, I really donít know. Out in the Midwest, thereís this whole underground party circuit, Iíve been coined the guy that plays the burner Breakz, in reference to Burning Man.
SFS: Whoís on your personal playlist?
Smoove: You know who I just got that is fucking amazing? Below Zero, the chill out show on Energy 92.7, they just put out this compilation CD called Minus One. It is so great, you turn it on, and start spacing out, relax stuff. I dig soundtrack to Across the Universe, they have this version of "Dear Prudence" that is super good. Thatís the song I want to be buried to. I also like Slip, by Trent Reznor. I like it, but itís definitely not something you relax to. Heís just a phenomenal producer. And the new Stereo MCs! The new Portishead album is up there as well.
Find DJ Smoove:
by Christina Li on Oct 22, 2008