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Last Night a DJ Saved My Life

Since moving to San Francisco in 1994 to skateboard and go to college — precisely in that order — Danny Ruxspin, better known as key&kite, has infiltrated San Francisco's nightlife scene. For the past 10 years, he has been putting out memorable remixes and innovative original tracks. Catch him Mondays and Saturdays at Q Bar.

SF Station (SFS): What is the inspiration for the name key&kite?

key&kite (kk): Well, I've always been obsessed with electricity. My favorite toy when I was growing up was a kit from Radio Shack that could make lie detectors and ham radios. The key and kite are from the story of Benjamin Franklin proving that lightning is static electricity. I'm a nerd!

SFS: Did you design your logo yourself?

kk: I did. It’s actually a tattoo I designed. I design all of my tattoos and most of them have to do with electricity. Surprise!

SFS: The Wanted parties are awesome. How did they come about?

kk: Thanks so much. Well, I had met Dana, the manager of Q Bar, and she was thinking of throwing a rock night there on Mondays. I was totally down but a little skeptical — rock in the Castro? So I called the night Wanted in reference to a Bon Jovi song and got my friend Richie Panic to do it with me. I'm actually a kindergarten teacher by day, so no DJing late on school nights!

After a couple of weeks of proving that rock music and the Castro were like chewing peanuts and gum, Richie and I decided to start creeping in Indie remixes and stuff we had worked on. Dana gave us a big thumbs up and before we knew it Wanted was just straight up insanity.

SFS: I love the mugshots concept. Where did that come from?

kk: Ha! The original visuals I made for the night were of celebrity mugshots to fit the wanted theme, so Richie and I had a little mugshot photo shoot of our own to slip ourselves in there. Then we thought it would be awesome to have a mugshot photo booth set up in Wanted once in a while. It turns out people love pictures of themselves, even if they're mugshots.

SFS: What do you attribute its success to?

kk: I don't know. That's a good question. I think Wanted just has a fun vibe. It's not pretentious and people just come to dance and go nutters. And I guess the $1 well drinks aren't hurting the night. Also, Richie and I are actually good DJs!

SFS: You and Richie Panic balance each other out quite well in the AM/PM context. What defines your DJ style?

kk: I just play things I really like and hope the crowd is down for it. I'm not so into songs with no vocals, and I am a sucker for a good hook. I like to keep an eye on the crowd and try to manipulate their mood. I like building up to a crazy place, smooth things out for a bit, and then jump out of the side hatch again with some WTF songs to bring back the crazy. Then rinse and repeat.

SFS: You've done some great remixes from tracks by the Smiths and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. How do you choose the tracks?

kk: Again, I just choose songs I really like that get stuck in my head. The "This Charming Man" one I did was made just for Wanted. I always played that song and realized there wasn't a remix for it. I made the Imogen Heap one because my wife loves that song and I didn't like any of the remixes of it at the time.

SFS: What's next for you?

kk: Right now, I'm finishing up a remix of a song called "December" by one of my favorite San Francisco acts, the Altars. Once that's done I'm actually working on an album of all originals. Richie and I are also working on some Wanted originals and remixes. Besides that, I'm working on another Wanted mix along with a new wave mix that I love from the salad days. Finish teaching these kids and then summertime! Man, I can't wait for summer.

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