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Last Night, A DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Oct 28, 2008
Who knew a mix Jimmy Eat World and 50 cent could make feet move so fast? Blending the different styles of pop, rock, and hip-hop, the Rock-It! Scientists combine to formulate the perfect recipe for mash-up success. Hailing from Berkeley and Southern California, DJ Solarz and DJ Guzie have become well-recognized in the Bay Area club circuit. With a quick rise to success after their first vinyl Rocket Fuel, these two remain humble about their fame and after one listen of their work, anyone can see why they have managed to garner so many fans in so little time; it’s hard to deny the urge to just dance. Whether it’s on Wild 94.9 or the famous DJ site Crooklyn’s Clan, their work remains constantly fresh and innovative in the shaky world of mash-ups. Catch them at Roe for one of the biggest Halloween parties this Friday night, or check them out this New Year’s Eve at Slide!
SFS (SF Station): How did you guys meet?
S (DJ Solarz): We met through our ex-girlfriends, who were close friends, roommates. They both went to CAL. I was DJing a lot, mostly at house parties and Telegraph Avenue bars.
G (DJ Guzie): I was doing student group things.
S: Then we would see each other at the bars. We were kind of competing for the same work. Initially, I really didn’t like him at all. We met kind of with a mutual dislike. I was weary of his intentions with the friend of my girlfriend at the time. But he’s a good guy, I’m glad we met.
G: Yeah, we eventually came together. We worked together, and became the unstoppable force!
SFS: How long have you been working together, well, with the liking each other part?
S: First time we made our CD, I think that was 2003 maybe?
SFS: Why the name Rock-It! Scientists?
G: It just sounded really cool when I thought of it. I had been playing around with the idea of a group with that name before. It just really made sense. We take whatever we do as a science. We are very nick-picky about every production aspect of our work; we try to be detail oriented, and try to nail it down. Therefore that to us is a science, and so it becomes the Rock-It! Scientists.
SFS: You guys are everywhere, on many fliers and very prolific as well. What are some of your favorite venues in the Bay?
S: For San Francisco, one of my favorites is Slide. I like playing there a lot. As a DJ I think of not only the crowd, but the set-up, sound system and lighting. It’s anything that potentially makes us appear and sound better.
G: Slide has no lighting
S: But ambiance there is nice!
G: I got a Harlot gig pretty soon, I like it there. We also play some clubs in Sacramento.
SFS: What are some of your favorite artists to sample/mix?
G: I like working with a lot of rock. I used to play a lot of hip-hop, because I started out as a hip-hop DJ, but all those student groups and sororities, they play different music, like AC/DC albums… I used that to my advantage, so I played a lot of rock and pop at the parties. Right now I like to mess around and create things with those genres.
S: It’s hard to say, but what’s cool about DJing is that you’ll have people in the club in their 20s, and tourists that are in their 40s and here for conventions. Our job is keep that 20-year-old dancing with the 40-year-old. As a DJ I like any artist that will get people up to dance, like Lil’ Wayne, Britney, Blackalicious…
G: You have never mixed Blackalicious!
S: I know, okay, so whether it’s something like Lynyrd Skynyrd…
G: Neil Diamond.
S: Okay Neil Diamond. If I could mix those songs together somehow, and everyone is having a good time the whole night, then that’s kind of where the mash-up scene comes together. If you go to big club cities like Vegas, you’ll probably hear everything, because everyone in there is a different age.
SFS: What are some of your influences?
G: When we made our CD it was definitely DJ Rectangle. He is a big influence; he made all these mix tapes in ‘97 and ‘98, kind of when we were really getting into it. I could still listen to it today and be like "wow". He was dope at scratching, and incorporated really good ideas, along with blending different beats, it was all hip-hop.
S: His mixing style is very fast, which makes it a lot of fun to listen to.
G: You can hear his influence when we play.
S: The Crooklyn Clan, who are DJ Sizzahandz and DJ Riz from New York, started the whole party break. Fatman Scoop definitely, the voice of the clubs, constantly yelling, "Get your hands up!"
G: He’s at least an hour every night for DJs.
S: You are guaranteed to hear Crooklyn Clan party breaks at a club.
G: There’s this song they made called "Be Faithful", and it was in one of those dancing movies. It just explodes with energy, and this song is almost ten years old and it still works. We need to make a "Be Faithful" for the west coast. That was another thing; a lot of DJs from the east coast get a lot of hype, and we wanted to represent where we are from.
SFS: How did manage to put yourselves out there in this competitive profession?
S: We started making party breaks, and sold them on vinyl. It was being pressed in the Czech Republic…we were doing a lot of bootleg stuff. We were putting our stuff out on actual vinyl! We put out one record called Rocket Fuel that had all our best party breaks, and it became extremely popular.
G: We were ready to lose money, and eventually we made money which was good.
S: It really put our name on the map, a little internationally too in places like Japan, and then we hooked up with Crooklyn Clan.
G: Almost two years ago was when we started being on the site. It was two and a half years ago that I heard about the site. You have to e-mail them and show that you have this and this remix…finally they responded, and I sent them more.
S: Guzie is very persistent.
G: Well we got on the site, and ever since then it’s been crazy!
SFS: What’s your current favorite music?
G: I listen to a lot of independent bloghouse fidge-ty type music.
S: Is that a genre?
G: Scarf not necessary when you listen to it in the car, only in the club. That’s what I listen to most often, it’s like a Lil’ Wayne remix but totally different than original. I also like homegrown music, because I listen to it as a fan, but can appreciate it from a production standpoint.
S: I like pop music. I like its disposability and cheesiness. I like that you can turn on a good pop song and practically sing it after the first time, I like Britney Spears; I like all of it. I like the videos too. I get excited by these things just because as a DJ that stuff gets responses in the club. We are bombarded as working DJs. Companies e-mail you ten to twenty tracks a day of new music, and I don’t really want to listen to it because nineteen out of twenty is garbage, although I’ve been known to throw away some number one hits…but we won’t talk about that. I do like pop music, and things I can get responses to in the club, cause that’s what I need as a DJ.
SFS: Who is your favorite DJ in the Bay? Besides each other, of course.
Both: Should we just say J?
S: Definitely DJ J Espinoza. He’s younger than both of us, but has spent more days DJing then both of us combined. He’s a DJ on Wild 94.9, and probably one of the most ill DJs on the west coast. I considered an honor to work with him.
SFS: What are your plans for Halloween?
S: I wanted to be a semi-colon.
G: He actually wanted to be Lil’ Wayne.
SFS: I’m going to be Lil’ Wayne.
S: Really! He has like invisible suspenders that always keep his pants up.
G: But really, we’re both DJing at Roe, alongside Trevor Simpson and others. It should be a good party! Roe is always a fun club. We booked that gig quite far back.
Catch them together this Halloween at Roe!
by Christina Li on Oct 28, 2008