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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Apr 29, 2009
Making his mark on the San Francisco electronic music scene through projects like Temple Night Club and the Temple Music Group, Paul Hemming has become a talented resident DJ for San Francisco nightlife. Always thinking of original and groundbreaking ways to change the dynamics of the music scene, this intellectual DJ seems to never have a momentís rest. Speaking with SF Station, Paul shares his rise to success and whatís to come in the future.
SF Station (SFS): So how did you get into DJing?
Paul Hemming (PH): I basically went to my little brotherís friendís house and saw that he had a pair of turntables. So then I bought a pair of garage sale turntables and a mixer when I was at San Francisco State. I used to DJ in the garage for myself.
SFS: What brought you to San Francisco since you are originally from Seattle?
PH: Well, I was born in TaiwanÖ
SFS: Oh, I love Taiwan! Iím Taiwanese.
PH: Yes, my mother is Chinese. I know how to speak Mandarin. I was born in Taiwan, and came to America, and then went to first grade in Taiwan, then back to America. My dad is American, and he used to teach English in high school (says all this in Mandarin).
SFS: Wow. That is impressive.
PH: So I moved to San Francisco to study filmmaking at San Francisco State, and my senior year in college a fire destroyed the building I lived in. The movies I was working on were destroyed, so I dropped out of school and started DJing fulltime. And in 2001 I opened a record shop in Oakland called Zen City Records. I used the money I got out of the settlement for the fire to open a record shop.
SFS: Whatís the primary genre you DJ? Or are you pretty eclectic?
PH: Iím pretty eclectic. I play everything from house to techno, basically everything. I play music that moves me and I let other people qualify it. I play a lot of big room electro tracks. I say within the style of music I play there are influences from the totality of music history. Thereís tribal, disco, funk, latin, and all other kinds fused with the electronic. I hate to pin it under one style. I like music that moves people.
SFS: So what are some of your inspirations? Where do you pull our influences from?
PH: Well, precisely from music history. I like to find unique pieces that represent some type of historical reference. Like lately Iíve been playing these electro tracks that have opera in it, and lots of big singers with rock elements. I like things that have crisp and futuristic beats and sometimes have one little piece of some type of organic instrumental music from the past to bring it into the future.
SFS: Since youíve been here for awhile, what are some of the changes youíve seen in the electronic music scene?
PH: Iíve witnessed the whole organic progression, really. The house is kind of evolved, and electro has become really big; the new disco sounds. Iíve watched the whole San Francisco deep house scene come and go. And music is constantly transforming - itís a cyclical process. Like you have the whole new electro sound even though electro started twenty years ago. And obviously in the 90s the disco sound was really big.
SFS: So you have a residency at Temple. I know there are also lots of other talented DJs. Do you find and book these DJs?
PH: I do, yes. I run the Saturday nights. A lot of the residents that play here are part of the collective of DJs and artists Iíve worked with for years now. So weíre trying to create the stars of tomorrow here. And we have a studio and a label. And my music director is Jay Williams, he plays keyboards when I DJ, and Ben Tom is also an up and coming producer. I also threw in a couple of friends from high school that I used to DJ with as well. Itís a collective of friends and family.
SFS: Thatís always the best. Tell us about the record label.
PH: The record is called TMG (Temple Music Group), and we have two studios in the house here. I have a studio and Jay has a studio. And weíre just creating music here. Anything from downtempo to rock to house, basically the full spectrum of music. Weíre just producing and digitally distributing on iTunes, and the idea is we create a song in the studio and test it out in the club. At some point you'll be able buy it and take it back with you from the retail shop of the club. Iím actually planning on bringing the record store back. I shut it down in 2005 to focus on opening Temple, but I still have all my records and a lot of record stores have gone out of business. I want to reopen the shop and have a retail store down in the club that will be open during the club to sell CDs and vinyls and stuff like that.
SFS: Do you have plans to release any CDs?
PH: Yeah totally! Weíre doing a release for the restaurant called Prana Vol 2. and weíre also doing a Lovefest sampler. We do a release each month, we did a bunch of remixes, and we have a release schedule of one new EP a month. So we have a pretty impressive release track this year. 2-3 full length CDs and a dance EP each month. And Iím reaching out to producers that Iím fans of. A lot of producers that I am playing on Saturday nights weíre reaching out to; people like Lee Mortimer is a big producer, and Miles Dyson will actually be doing remixes for us.
SFS: As an artist, what are some good words you live by?
PH: Getting to do what you love all day long makes the line between work and play blurry so itís always a joyful experience; itís how I live my life. I get to do what I love. I work with people that inspire me, and itís a great project. Iím truly blessed living the dream.
Catch Paul Hemming every Saturday at Temple and check out http://www.templesf.com to find out more about his upcoming releases.
by Christina Li on Apr 29, 2009