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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Aug 18, 2009
Making vibrations with fresh beats in his home base of San Francisco to international gems like Paris and Tokyo, Eug has been making a name for himself ever since he touched turntables in '92. Currently holding monthly parties around San Francisco with his label Public Release with guest DJs such as Jacques Renault and Peanut Butter Wolf, Eug exemplifies how diversity and attention to aesthetic can lead the road to original success. Taking time off his busy schedule to share a few words of wisdom with SF Station, Eug tells us about his musical endeavors and what’s next for Public release.
SF Station (SFS): What got you into DJing?
Eug (E): My folks always had music on in the house, and I played violin for many years when I was little, so I’ve always had an interest or have been surrounded by music. I also grew up with neighborhood kids that made beats, rapped, danced and did graf; the hip hop culture of the early 90s was really strong. I started out playing records at parties off some belt-drive turntables and a crap radio shack mixer. I guess the art of blending
songs into one seamless story, and setting the tone/feel of a party was something I really enjoyed doing. I was also getting into tricks, juggling and scratching at the time, which I don't do anymore, but was something crucial in developing one's touch with the records and the timing of things. Ultimately, any DJ has an opinion or point of view on the music that they want to share with people and that process of filtering, editing and timing is one of the main things that got me into DJing.
SFS: How did you come up with the name Public Release?
E: That's quite a while ago now, but I remember being into how generic it sounded, and how it emphasized the process of releasing music to the general public...almost like a PBS or National Film Board feel. You’ll notice that the logo Evan Hecox did for us...is friendly, but generic and almost institutional. Public Release was and is simply about getting good music out to people.
SFS: What do you attribute the successful exclusivity of the label to?
E: I wouldn't call Public Release a full blown "label" yet, it's always been the goal and we will eventually release original material. Up to now, we've released only mix CDs, about 12 so far, done a few collaborations with clothing labels, and some music and event consulting here and there. Public Release stuff isn't limited to be "limited edition". It’s simply limited because that's all we can make, or have the time to produce since this isn't our full time gig. With the exclusivity on who's getting the CDs or where you can buy them, we just happen to have similar interests, circles of friends, and tastes with some of these shops and people.
SFS: What made you stick to your name and not some nifty little DJ moniker?
E: Well, my name's Eugene, and everyone's called me Eug for short, since I was a kid, so that's just kinda stuck.
SFS: You have DJed internationally. What has been your favorite place? Any memorable gigs you would like to share?
E: Yeah, the Marc Newson x Dom Pérignon launch party in Tokyo was super fun. Having an open bar that's Dom only is very nice. The after party at LeBaron was good times too. So many friends and friends of friends end up passing through there when they're in Tokyo that it can be a bit of a clubhouse and reunion at times.
SFS: Your mixes are pretty excellently eclectic. What made you decide to incorporate everything rather than have a more solid focus on one specific genre?
E: I'm envious of DJs that can go hours playing a similar sound, only subtly shifting things from track to track. I aim for that at times, but I usually get impatient, or the particular crowd isn't there to support that kind of depth. Being "eclectic " is tricky; as I think most good "eclectic" DJs aren't trying to be that, they're just pulling from all their influences and prefer the sound of the party to be wide rather than focused. I don't think one style is better than the other. Both require a lot of skill, and with DJs that play the wider range, the challenge is how to make all the different tracks feel cohesive.
There’s always a lot of stuff I want to say when I play... lots of tracks that I love, that are very different, yet have a common thread that you can link them together with.
Many tracks can express different moments of a party best, and often these tracks aren't necessarily in the same "genre".
All this makes it hard for me to describe what I play when people ask. It heavily depends on the party or event at times too. If it's up to me though, I like roaming around rock, psych, disco, house, italo, balearic, post punk stuff. Having said that, there are of course plenty of stand out tracks from almost all genres that I try to look out for.
SFS: Your label is also very artistic. Where do you get your inspirations from?
E: Since I’m trained as a designer, I have a pretty strict aesthetic on what I do and don't like. All the art and design for public release stuff is either commissioned or often I’ll do the flyers if there's not much time. For the mix series, or anything else that goes to print, I commission people whose work I admire or who are friends. My favorite stuff is our more recent stuff, such as the kids in trouble (PR12) CD that James Joyce did out of London. Matt from Universal Everything, who's also in the UK did PR11, nine, and eight. He used to do a lot of stuff for Warp Records back when he was at DR. Parra also did some great artwork for us in 2005 for Even Nice Girls (PR10). You see his stuff everywhere now!
SFS: Who are some important up and coming artists you personally enjoy?
E: Too many to mention! I'm still trying to get caught up with all the great stuff that's already been out there for decades; it's never ending. I currently enjoy playing out the recent stuff from Crue-L, Runaway, House of House, Canyons, A Mountain of One, Blackdisco, Mark-e, etc.
Find out what’s next for Public Release and Eug at http://publicrelease.net/, and keep watch for their new monthly parties starting September.
by Christina Li on Aug 18, 2009