This year, no one could predict with confidence who would win DJ of the Year. At the first of the two showcases, reigning champion DJ illoom threw down a set that reminded casual club-goers that dubstep and jungle can definitely fill a dance floor. And at the second, veteran DJ J Godina smashed his laptop and followed it up with an all-vinyl set that seamlessly connected Wu-Tang Clan with Joy Division.
But being a great DJ takes more than just superb taste in music or the ability to scratch over vinyl. Kyle Erickson, aka DJ Flash & Flare, has proven that to be the best DJ in Utah, you need to not only be able to mix all genres well and piece together creative sets, but also lift up other DJs.
“Salt Lake has a tight-knit group of counter-culture people, especially downtown,” says Erickson, who also won the 2011 spin-off. “With W Lounge (where his popular residency, Stir Friday, began) these [DJs] got the opportunity to really sharpen their skills. I watched some people who are now amazing DJs find their sound there. Kids like JRapp, Alastair, Mama Beatz and Decoy. Now, every one of these guys can easily pull over 200 people to a club. I like to think I had something to do with that.”
Over the years, Erickson has worked with just about every DJ in the downtown circuit, yet he almost never spins a night where he headlines. “I’d say 70 percent of my DJing career has been opening up for other people,” Erickson says. “I mean, even Pauly D can walk into a room at 2 a.m. and throw down a decent set. But I think perfecting a good opening act is a special skill.”
So, when Erickson got the opportunity to jump on the decks later in the night at this year’s DJ Spin-off at Zest Kitchen & Bar, he more or less “got a kick out of it.” The result was a clinic in the art of BPM and how to mix everything from Daft Punk to Robin Thicke. “I just tried to do everything,” Erickson says. “I’m a big fan of starting slow. I wanted people to listen and pay attention in the beginning and then have it gradually turn into a four-on-the-floor dance party. I think it over went well.”
When asked what he was going to do with his award of free advertising from City Weekly, the two-time DJ of the Year said he would obviously push his Stir Fridays at Zest Kitchen & Bar and his Sunday afternoon rooftop parties at The Green Pig. But he also emphasized the importance of helping out his friends, “I think I’ll point out some of my single friends and throw their digits out there for the ladies,” he says. “That’ll help them out, right?” —Colin Wolf
To stream or download Flash and Flare's April 17, winning DJ Spin-off set, click here.
CWMA TOP DJS
Contributors: Austen Diamond, Colin Wolf
Roots Rawka is a staple of the State Street club circuit, spinning at bars like Bar Deluxe and The Woodshed. He’s also known around the valley as both a DJ and booker/promoter for an abundance of national touring reggae bands. The primarily reggae DJ competed in the 2011 CWMA DJ Spin-off and is a guest host on KRCL’s Friday Night Fallout Show, where he shows off his hip-hop proclivities. (AD) RootsRawka.com
Over his 16 years of DJing, David Gillette, aka DeCay, has hit his stride playing “anything with breakbeats—trip-hop, dubstep, glitch-hop—anything with a broken beat.” The Hive Collective co-founder produces the majority of music he spins at underground shows and festivals, like Burning Man and Element 11. “The sound design and beat structure is so unique—some people who’ve never heard it before say it’s like aliens talking—that it’s hard to describe,” DeCay says. “It just grabs ahold and makes me want to move.” (AD) TheHiveCollective.com
Deep & Dirty
Fans of Utah’s impressive, ever-growing house scene are definitely familiar with DJ and producer Alastair, of D_rty Productions. Though the deep-house aficionado has been DJing a mere three years, this will be his second CWMA DJ Spin-off. Alastair has made a name for himself in SLC’s club scene by opening for big-name acts like Tiesto and Tommy Trash, and with his monthly night, Delve (Deep), at Zest Kitchen & Bar. (CW) Soundcloud.com/AlastairNee
Duke of Dubstep
For a six-year stretch, James Loomis—aka illoom—has held down Dubwise, now at The Urban Lounge, making it the third-longest-running dubstep night in North America. Illoom is what he calls the “holy grail” of music-makers: a producer and a DJ. He’s been focusing on production of late, mostly riddims in the traditional Jamaican dub style. But don’t be fooled: He’s not rusty. Illoom can cut it hard and fast during a DJ set, as he did at the 2012 CWMA DJ Spin-off, which he won. (AD) Soundcloud.com/illoom
DJ Electronic Battleship
DJ Electronic Battleship might be the definition of an open-format DJ. Though he’s only had residency at Ogden’s Copper Club for a little more than a year, Battleship is no rookie behind the decks. For the past eight years, Battleship has cut his teeth as an opening DJ for live hip-hop acts like DopeThought, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and Schoolboy Q, to name a few. (CW) Soundcloud.com/ElectronicBattleship
Jack of All DJ Trades
Though he hasn’t won a CWMA DJ Spin-off yet, Holladay-based DJ Bentley is a regular fixture at the annual party. For the past six years, Bentley has cut his chops at just about every club in the valley, and is currently Park City Live’s go-to DJ. Bentley delivers technical sets with plenty of beat-juggling, scratches and sounds ranging from drum and bass, breakbeats to trap. (CW) Facebook.com/DJBentleySLC
Justin Godina—aka J Godina—lives in two worlds. The Top 40 club world is where he spins EDM, hip-hop and old-school tunes at his sell-out residency at Maxwell’s on Friday and Saturday nights. His other world, the one where he got his start some 15 years ago, is his one true love: spinning vinyl. Godina owns more than 10,000 records and spins a good number of soul and hip-hop cuts on Mondays at Bar-X. (AD)
When City Weekly said DJ CWell was the dark horse of the spin-off—he’s not a familiar name in the downtown club scene—the Bountiful-based DJ took it to heart and performed part of his set wearing a horse mask. Nice. Over the past eight years, this open-format DJ has worked at literally every outskirt club in Utah. He has multiple residencies, does countless parties and considers his daily strip-club gig at Southern X-posure his “9 to 5.” (CW)
Not many DJs can pull off using the tagline “You’re not gonna get the butt you want by sitting on it” and actually mean it. Among Chad Thomas’ (aka Elvis Freshly) residencies, the house/Top 40 DJ spins at Xcel Spa & Fitness on Mondays. He also drops beats late into the night at Cisero’s Ristorante & Bar in Park City on Saturdays. Elvis Freshly is in fine spinning shape—he’s competed in the 2011 and 2012 CWMA DJ Spin-offs. (AD) DJElvisFreshly.com