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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Sep 01, 2009
As a true native of the Bay Area, DJ Don Lynch has been getting crowds danciní ever since he was a young lad. With residencies at some of the classiest clubs in San Francisco and San Jose, his beats always manage to garner attention because of his ability to incorporate everything from 80s rock to indie grooves. Taking some time to sit down and chat with SF Station, the well-spoken Don Lynch shares his thoughts.
SF Station (SFS): Are you from San Francisco?
Don Lynch (DL): Nope - born and raised in San Jose! Iíve lived in every corner of the Bay Area, but always come back to San Jose. Love the city though!
SFS: So how did you get into music?
DL: Itís kind of funny because I never had any ambition to be a DJ, but Iíve always loved music. My dad was huge music fan; music was always playing in my room, and then I figured that you can actually mix two songs together. I realized there was a whole culture that revolved around that. As soon as I figured that out it was just like you couldnít stop me!
SFS: At what age did you get around to it?
DL: It was in seventh grade, around 12 or 13. Obviously I didnít start doing it as a profession for another two years.
SFS: So what made you get into it as profession?
DL: Just because I liked doing it! I wasnít really good at sports, and you know, I just played for fun with friends, and we were so into music that it naturally evolved.
SFS: What types of music do you like the play the most?
DL: I donít know if this is bad or not, but I like to play the kind of music that I like. I like to expose crowds to stuff I like, whether they know it or not or introducing them to something new. I have a wide range of music that I listen to, everything from 70s and 80s rock to new indie stuff.
SFS: Currently, what do you usually play?
DL: I guess the majority of what I play out right now is remixes, not necessarily mashups but current music redone in a better way. I would love to remix everything if I could, but I canít, so I just look for good remixes of songs intertwined with originals.
SFS: Any artists in particular?
DL: Like original artists? Well some of the bigger things for me were people like MGMT. That bridged the gap between the indie world and the mainstream world, and it was fun to play those and have more people accept that music that wouldnít have a year or two before that.
SFS: Do you usually DJ in San Jose or back and forthÖ?
DL: I DJ mostly in San Francisco, one or two places in San Jose, and I get to do a lot of traveling like Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, etc.
SFS: Any memorable experiences you would like to share?
DL: Wow, where do I start? Hm, I guess in Taste Ultra Lounge in San Jose a couple years ago during the whole "party like a rockstar" phase, I was experimenting and playing with older rock songs, and I went crowd surfing one time out of nowhere. Yeah - that was a fun experience.
SFS: Wow in San Jose? Thatís insane. What are some of your favorite places to play in SF?
DL: Currently, I'm one of the residents at Infusion. I have a great time playing there. We do a party where I play music videos as well.
SFS: Music videos? Tell us a little about that.
DL: One of the things I thought would be really fun to do back in the day was to play a music video with every song. At the time, the technology was not possible, but with the invention of Pioneer DVJ, that became a reality for me and really early on I was playing music videos instead of the records. Those evolved into me editing custom content and lead to lots of traveling gigs, and you could see me at trade shows and clubs experimenting with what was new at that point. Rather than a musical performance, itís a visual performance.
SFS: How do you think crowds react to that?
DL: They definitely react in a much different way than just an audio DJ. You have to be very careful with what you do because people will stop dancing and watch the music video. There is a fine line between keeping your dancefloor moving and a visual performance that will really stop them. What you might do in a trade show or a concert is much different than what you can do at a danceclub to keep your promoter happy, and keep the dancefloor. You really have to adapt that.
SFS: Since youíve always been in the Bay Area, how have you seen the nightlife evolve?
DL: Even though we are in recession, there are tons of new clubs opening!
I think SF nightlife is reaching a new plateau; itís really recognized right now, and we have some incredibly talented DJs here. People are really taking a look at what San Francisco is doing. The scene is evolving faster than it ever has before and reaching an inevitable plateau where we have become a destination city like Los Angeles.
SFS: Then what keeps you here instead of Vegas or L.A.?
DL: Well of course San Jose is home, but thereís just something really genuine about the nightlife scene here. A lot of other cities I DJíed in, even semi-regularly, you tend to get a real sense of the politics that are involved, and the promoters play back and forth with exclusivity of stuff. It does exist up to a point in San Francisco, but the major players in the game are doing it for the love of it. Thatís what sets it apart. If they love you as a DJ and love what you do, theyíre still going to hire you even if you work with their competition. Of course itís not encouraged, but itís not as big as a faux pas as it might be in another city. So people recognize the love that not only the talent has, but the city has for the talent.
SFS: You put out our own mixes and mix tapes, right?
DL: Yes, but not as much as I would like to obviously. If I could, I would put out a new mix everyday, but thereís the time factor, especially with someone like myself because I'm such a perfectionist. Before you could sell mix CDs, but now there is not an immediate financial return on the investment like there used to be. The return is still there though, I mean youíre not going to make any money because itís a free download, but you can get your music out to more people to club promoters and goers, and it leads to more bookings. For someone like myself, Iíll start a mix and get self-conscious, and Iíll feel like itís been too old before I reach the end! Lately the trend for me has been 20- 30 minute mixes, which is working out well because the people downloading an hour mix find it hard to listen to on an iPod.
SFS: Yes, people have ADD.
DL: Yeah, itís good for people who want a workout or a short car ride. But I recently did an 80-minute long early 2000 house mix!
SFS: Early 2000s? Oh man.
DL: Yeah weíre reaching the end of it, crazy right?
Download some easy summer remixes at http://djdonlynch.blogspot.com. Keep a lookout for his new website launching a few weeks, listen to some mixes, and follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/donlynch.
by Christina Li on Sep 01, 2009