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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life
by Christina Li on Jun 10, 2010
After discovering mixtapes in the late 80s and early 90s, DJ B. Cause found himself hooked on the DJ world. Piecing together his own belt-drive setup until he could afford Technics, he embodies the classic wisdom and genuine skill that young DJs can look up to. A Bay Area staple by name and talent, B. Cause shares his thoughts with SF Station.
SF Station (SFS): Your mixtapes cover everything from soul electro to hard raps. What's the mindset you need to get in for each sound?
B.Cause (B): Thanks for taking the time to check them out. I try to put a lot of time and thought into the mixes. I think it's one of the most creative and open formats for DJs to express their musical vision and depth, and I feel it is important to make them as timeless as possible.
As far as approach, it goes something like: gather, sort, record, fret, edit, do cuts, re-record, fret some more, etc. The themed mixes are derived from a fascination for a certain artist or sound. Unfortunately, I have more ideas on the back burner than I could ever possibly finish. The process is so time-consuming.
SFS: Your Slump and Grind mixes feature some of the best rap/hip-hop from the Bay. What do you think of its evolution?
B: The Bay Area has always had the funk on lock, going all the way back to the old West Coast blues scene; the 60s and 70s soul, jazz, funk, psych-rock; 80s funk and r&b, etc. All the newer stuff has roots in those older styles and so you get these undeniable rhythms and sounds in every decade.
The 90s mob music was kind of a funkier extension of g-funk, and in a lot of ways it was more experimental. It was natural for the hyphy stuff to push the boundaries of some of those newer patches and drum sounds circa 2000+ when all that was going on. Now, I think we are getting back to the warmer synth chords and harmonic, soulful hooks. But there's still a lot of room for variety and the Bay will be in the spotlight again at some point. One thing I think people need to be aware of though is that there is lots of great new stuff that isn't necessarily "turf rap".
SFS: If you could imagine one situation where the Hard as Fuck mixes are played, what would that be?
B: Probably at the park, because my friend Serg likes to drink beer and yell a lot — you can do that there and not get kicked out, usually.
SFS: Tell us about the creative inspiration behind your recent Jukebox Wizard mixes.
B: The Jukebox Wizard was initially something that my friend Doc Delay was kicking back and forth with Sasha Frere-Jones, who wrote the story for the project. Delay put me up for a few days when I was visiting NY a couple years ago and we just started going though stuff together, pulling a capellas and instrumentals of pop and rock stuff, and looking for good combinations.
We wanted to do blends that were kind of cheesed out but were musically sound, and in key. I am, and have always been a pop music junkie, among other things. As a kid you might have caught me doing things like recording Casey Kasem countdowns on my old boombox, creating mock radio programs with the microphone and a cassette, or singing Laura Branigan out loud.
SFS: How do you pick a song to remix? Is there a routine for you?
B: It differs. Sometimes I just have a hot a capella and will get inspired to hook it up, other times it's an inspiring loop or instrumental that has me scrambling for an appropriate vocal or sample to layer in. Listening to records always makes me want to start recording.
SFS: What advice would you give to younger DJs?
B: Listen to a lot of records! Stay up on as much music as possible and practice every day. Be friendly and reliable when it comes to gigs and your associates. Be consistent. Write down things you plan to accomplish.
SFS: What's coming up for you this summer?
B: A lot of work, no big plans just getting things done. Lots of family time, as the kids are out of school. Skating around town with the kids.
SFS: Do you have a personal summer jam?
B: Right now, it's "Shutterbug" by Big Boi but I'm hearing lots of great new music so I am hopeful for more contenders.
Visit DJ B. Cause online at http://www.diamondsinthedust.blogspot.com.
by Christina Li on Jun 10, 2010