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Gavin's Underground

Big City House

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2009-01-13 -

The club scene has always had a full head of steam behind it, no matter where it goes. But recently the return of house music has picked up to a fever pitch.

  Downtown SLC has been bringing it back in a big way with the help of local DJ trio
Big City House. Dropping some of the finest mixes and tracks they can conjure up, the group has been cramming the dance floor with crowds to some of the best house music any club has had in years. I got a chance to chat with all three DJ's about their music and resurgence they're helping bring back to local clubs. And dropped in this past Saturday to photograph them in action in front of a packed W. Lounge crowd!


Miss KinetiK

http://www.myspace.com/spin77

Gavin: Hey Karen, first off, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Karen: Hey Gavin, Well first of thanks for interviewing me. I guess to start off with I'm a designer by day, DJ by night.  I'm pretty much all around creative and art/design/music are huge parts of my life.  I love snowboarding and love the mountains and in fact that is a big part of what drew me to Utah in the first place.  I started djing 3 years ago and have been playing out regularly ever since. I grew up in a Loveland, CO (a smaller city in northern Colorado). I had a few friends in high school who were into electronic music, a bit but for the most part, I felt isolated in my love for dance music.  There really wasn't much of a ‘scene' or even record stores that carried electronic music in Northern Colorado.  The only music that was available for purchase where I lived was Mega Dance Hits n stuff like that from big box stores. The music just didn't catch on up there.  There was definitely a scene in Denver and Boulder but it was a bit difficult to really tap into that from Northern CO as a teenager. After high school, I moved to Georgia to go college @ the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah where I got my BFA in Industrial Design.  After college, I moved to Boston, MA for a design job and to get a taste of big city life in the North East.  During my time on the east coast, my heart always yearned for the west.  I missed the Rocky MountainsRocky Mountains, fresh powder and wanted to be closer to my family in CO. I got job offer for a product design position in Salt Lake in October of 2003.  I had never been to Utah before.  I did not know anyone in Utah and I had no clue what was here.  All I knew was I wanted to move back west somewhere I could snowboard.  I came out for the interview and got the job.  A week later, I was on my way to Utah. So that's how I got here in the first place. I was excited to find there was an electronic scene here!  One of my very first friends here introduced me to the Salt Lake underground scene and the rest is history.

Gavin: Who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Karen: Well when I got my first radio in the 80's and started tuning into what was on the airwaves, I thought MC Hammer, Bel Biv Devoe, Paula Abdul, Madonna, Vanilla Ice were all pretty cool back in the day and I guess that's the first stuff I really started listening to as a teenager. In junior high, I discovered Metal, which supported my need for teenage rebellion and offered relief from the likes of Vanilla Ice.  So yeah, I guess I was little metal head chick for a while back in junior high and early high school..  I was a big fan of Metallica, Anthrax, Megadeath, Poison, Guns & Roses, Ministry etc. Music wise, things started really coming together for me in high school when I started listening to a wider range of music.  I started listening to ‘Alternative' and through that, discovered Depeche Mode.  If I had to choose one single act that truly influenced my taste in music and eventually led me to a love of electronic music, it would be Depeche Mode.  That was the beginning of it all for me.  Electronic music wasn't really that accessible for me in high school.  There was one radio show on a radio station that played on Sunday nights from 12AM-4AM.  I lived for time and would literally stay up all night to listen to the show because I couldn't wait for it and if I wanted to record it, I had to flip my tapes over and put new tapes in.  I would record the shows on cassettes and that's really the only way I got new electronic music from the underground.  I didn't know who a lot of the electronic artists were because I was just listening to mixes from the radio early on.  Some of my mainstream influences growing up were Soundgarden,  Beastie Boys, Tribe Called Quest, Ministry, Aerosmith, U2, B52s, and Nirvana. If I had to pick a favorite song growing up. Might have to pick the 1991 musical collaboration between Public Enemy and Antrax. ‘Bring the Noise.' What other electronic music I did pick up was from Best Buy so it was mostly mainstream electronic music.  Ace of Base stuff.

Gavin: What made you decide to start performing as a DJ?

Karen: When I was 16, I remember telling my Dad that I didn't care about going to college, that I just wanted to move to Detroit and learn to be a DJ.  My Dad wasn't one to put the kibosh on dreams but very kindly and lovingly asked me if I knew how I would make a living as a DJ or if I knew anything about the industry.  My father encouraged me to look into things.  I didn't know.  I didn't have a clue and didn't know anything really about the electronic world.  This was before the days of the internet being commonly used and I wasn't aware of any way for me to really connect to the scene to find out. Eventually I shelved my dream of being a DJ because I just didn't know how to tap into the scene and after further investigation it was pretty clear that it would be tough to make a living as a DJ alone, so I decided to pursue a career in design so I went off to art school and on to a career as a product designer and my career was my main focus. Surprisingly, the turning point came for me when I moved to Utah.  I was so amazed there was actually a scene here and that's when I started to get involved with an actually ‘dance community'.  I wound up being friends with a lot of DJs and got a chance to learn more about the music and what DJ-ing involved.  When I turned 27, I realized I was getting towards my 30s and still had this, "fantasy that just wouldn't go away".  I really had a turning point where the words kept running through my mind. “You regret what you don't do, not what you do."  I finally realized if I'd been hung up on this dream for over ten years and if I didn't follow my dream of at least trying to DJ I would regret it for the rest of my life.

Karen:
Making the jump to purchase over $1000 of equipment was very scary to me but the prospect of looking back at my life and wishing I would have tried it... well that was far scarier than a thousand bucks.  It became very clear to me. You only live once and if you really, really love something. Just do it.  So in the fall of 2005 I finally made the plunge and got my turntables and mixer.  I played at home until the summer of 2006 when I started playing at open tables night at The W Lounge.  Open tables night is a term used across the club industry for when a club allows new DJs to play on their sound systems.  Open tables nights are usually slow nights like Mondays or Tuesdays where the clubs/bars are usually the slowest anyway. I started playing at open tables night EVERY Tuesdays night religiously for about three months and as I kept playing, I kept getting better and I earned the support of the owner and bar tenders at the W to decided to give me a chance on playing on a Friday.  I was super excited to get a chance to play on a real club night but scared at the same time since I hadn't played very long.  Anyway, my first Friday gig in October of 2006 wound up going well and that was the start of things for me.  I've been playing virtually every month since then.

Gavin: What was some of your first equipment and how did you go about learning the skills and audio tricks?

Karen: I had played on friend's turntables a few times but it's hard to really actually learn and get good without your own equipment and your own music.  It takes a lot of guts to even try to spin on other people's equipment, when you first start because you don't have a clue what you're doing, you sound horrible and it's just an overwhelming experience if someone isn't there to really point you in the right direction.  It also takes a brave and patient friend to hang out with you while you Tran wreck until you get the hang of things. It became clear to me that if I was really going to DJ, then I just needed to dive in headfirst and get my own equipment.  That way I would have a chance to practice on my own in private on my own equipment and take my time and get it right and to have time to practice. I talked to a ton of DJs and did research on the internet for an entire year before I made a decision.  This was back in 2004 when a few people were just starting to play CDJs in addition to Vinyl or as a replacement entirely.  CDJs are turntables that play CDs instead of records.  Higher-end CDJs have a touch-sensitive platter that allows you to interact with a CD in a very similar way to a record, you can actually move the platter like a record to play it in the same way and you can even scratch. After a year of serious debate and listening to endless advice and guidance from I'm sure well over 100 DJs, I finally decided that technology was going forward, not back.  That the benefits of going digital far outweigh the vinyl, though it was a tough decision. With each turntable costing over $500 bucks... and for someone who didn't even know how to DJ at the time... this was a big commitment.  I am so glad I went for it! 

Gavin: What was your first show like for you, and what have you learned along the way about performing?

Karen: Well I actually started playing out in the summer of 2006 at the W Lounge on Tuesday nights and jumped at the chance to play Fridays.  I made fliers and posters and asked another DJ to spin with me and I had my first real club night on a Friday in October of 2006.  I had a great turn out so I got the opportunity to keep playing. I could literally write a book about what I've learned about performing along the way.  Firstly, I've learned to overcome the challenges of being a female DJ in an extremely competitive and male dominated industry.  You have to really prove yourself as a solid DJ be taken seriously.  Aside from that, DJ-ing is a continuous learning experience.  You have to learn to expect the unexpected and figure out how to handle each situation at the time.  There are a lot of technical/equipment issues that come up and that's just part of the game.  You're spinning and the club is hopping and all the sudden the music stops.  Everyone stops dancing.  Everyone looks at the DJ.  A mass sigh goes can be heard.  "Awh!  Come on!  Why'd the music stop?"  Talk about pressure!  At that point it's the DJs job to figure out what the heck has gone wrong.  Did the amp get to hot?  Is there a wire loose somewhere?  Did a fuse blow?  Is there equipment failure?  You really have to handle situations like that with a cool head and play detective.  Situations like that can be intimidating when you first start out because it doesn't matter how good your are at playing at home on your own equipment. There are also equipment problems that you have to rely on sound engineers to fix like if there's a problem with a club's sound system sometimes there's really not a lot you can do about that. When you play out you're playing on someone else's equipment so it can be a real hassle to figure out what the issue is.  The only way to learn is trial by fire.  Eventually you deal with enough technical stuff and you start to figure things out a bit.   

Gavin: You also do graphic design. What drew you to do that?

Karen: Art has been a huge part of my life as long as I can remember. I just always been what I've been be drawn to.  I did make a choice to pursue a career in design after high school when I went study design at SCAD and that took things to a completely new level for me.  Having a chance to focus all of my energy on Art and Design was huge and really helped me develop my talents.  I actually got my degree in Product Design but love doing graphics too. I really enjoy doing fliers for electronic music events because there is total design freedom.  Electronic music event promotions just have to look cool and be fun and there is no limit to the creativity.  I love it!

Gavin: You got your Bachelors degree from Savannah College of Art & Design. What was their program like?

Karen: SCAD is one of the top schools in the US for art and design in the United States and actually draws students from around the world.  Savannah is a small city and it was amazing to be surrounded by so many creative minds in such a beautiful historic city.  SCAD's campus is located in the Historic District, which is only 2.5 square miles so you can imagine how much creative energy thrives when you put over 4,000 artists in that small of an area.  There were around 4,000 students when I went there but now the schools grown to 9,000.  I was lucky to get an opportunity to go to school at SCAD and my education continues to open a lot of exciting doors. 

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Karen: I think we're lucky as heck to have such a great music scene here.  It's really east to take things for granted but maybe all it takes is a trip to another city to really appreciate what we've got here.  I've gone to parties recently in LA and also Denver, which def has a huge scene.  But went to a couple ‘mega' clubs and saw some big shows at the same time. The bigger a venue is... sometimes it seems less personal.  I guess I've come to appreciate smaller venues for the 'close' and more 'personal' feeling that house music thrives with.  In a smaller venue if you go a few times you have a good chance at actually getting to know a fair number of people. In a giant club,...the social dynamic just changes a bit. It nice to come back to Utah and appreciate what we've got here.  Also with promotion companies like V2 brining out world-class electronic artists from around the globe on a regular basis, we're really lucky. Regarding music in general, you can find pretty much any kind of music in SLC if you really look for it.  Salt Lake is growing to and the music scene will evolve with the population.  I am continually amazed at the quality of music production that is coming out of Salt Lake.  There are incredibly talented producers making music here and I keep hearing some really off the chain tracks coming out.  I've been really impressed by a lot of the underground hip-hop producers here. It's definitely true that SLC's nightlife can require some detective work to really get tapped into when you're an outsider.  For people from other states who come to visit, things can be daunting just because people have no clue where to start.  If you're not from here and you drive around Salt Lake at night, there's no ‘club, bar or restaurant district' due to the drinking and zoning laws.  Basically all the clubs, bars and restaurants are largely scattered about the city.  Many other larger cities have ‘entertainment districts' where you can find many clubs, bars and restaurants all conveniently located in close proximity.  Well there are the malls, but that's enough said.  The mall is not exactly the place to find nightlife.  It would be cool if SLC changed antiquated zoning laws and made an entertainment district.  That would definitely help with tourism.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Karen: Yes, there are a lot of people working hard to improve the scene right now.  DJs can compete or work together.  I think more DJs in the house music scene are working together to support each other's nights rather than to compete directly.  It's pretty much unavoidable to have some overlapping nights but all in all there's a lot more cooperation going on in certain circles of DJs who are teaming up to build a bigger scene and get the word out to new people on what's going on.  The biggest thing that can be done to improve the scene is to get the word out to more people.  I know there are a ton of people in SLC who would love to dance and just aren't tapped into the electronic scene yet.  So I guess it's our goal to get the word out about house music and what's going on in the scene.  The more people get the word out the better anyone's night will be because it will increase general interest in things.

Gavin: Who would you say are the best DJ acts in our scene now?

Karen: That's a tough one because there are so many great nights!  Of course I'm going to plug Big City House.  We spin on the 2nd Saturday of every month at The W Lounge.  Our music is best described as ‘Jackin House' and is largely influenced by the ‘Chicago Style' of dance music.  Our music has a positive vibe and our goal is to get everyone dancing and we want people leaving feeling better than they did when they walked in the door. Big City House spins house music EVERY Wednesday night at a great new club called Jam.  Jam is the newest club in the scene to open it's doors.  I describe Jam very welcoming and comfortable and it's sophisticated yet not pretentious.  We have a unique opportunity to bring in different guest DJs every week to spin cutting edge house music.  Wednesday nights there feel like a Saturday night because the club has been packed!  It's definitely a great way to take a break from the work week and dance to some great beats! Jesse Walker definitely deserves huge props for his night ‘Night Light' which is on the 3rd Saturday of every month at The W Lounge.  Jesse has been spinning in this town for longer than I've been living here and he is an incredible DJ.  He has a great following and always gets the crowd worked up to a frenzied state.  Any time Jesse is playing, I have absolute confidence it's going to be a great night! Thumpin Thursdays with TinkFu & Mizz Nici:  These ladies have been holdin' it down continuously in SLC for years, a staple for the electronic scene in SLC!  These ladies bring out the best Breaks, House, Speed Garage, and DnB in Utah and they do it every week!  They also bring in special guest djs every week and it's always a great time! On Fridays there is a great new house night at The Manahttan on 4th South and Main St. downtown. The Manhattan recently turned over a new leave after closing for a couple months.  They renovated the entire club and it is really great!  They used to accommodate hip-hop but now the club is trying to change up their image to something completely different and now are catering to the House Music crowd on Fridays.  I just went to check it out for the first time last Friday and was really impressed with the club's new interior and the awesome house music!

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

Karen: Well firstly I'd like to set the record straight about  Techno. People who aren't familiar with electronic music and dance culture tend to be pretty confused about terminology, genres, subgenres and the subcultures, largely because these terms are pretty much limited to use by people who are really into Underground electronic music.  One of the most common misconceptions is that many people unfamiliar with dance music don't have a clue about the genres and subgenres of electronic music.  It is common to hear people refer to any electronic music as "Techno" but techno is actually particular genre of electronic music. A lot of times people who don't know about electronic music say "That techno all sounds the same" but what they don't realize is that each genre is very distinctly different.  Within electronic music there are totally different ‘scenes', different styles and someone who might like House Music might despise Trance.  Someone who likes Trance may hate Drum & Base.  While someone who loves House might also love Breaks, even though they are very different things.  So if someone who is unfamiliar with electronic music hears music in a chase scene of an action movie might automatically call that "Techno" but there's a good chance it wouldn't really be techno.  I am personally not a big fan of the actual genre of music called "Techno".  When I tell people that it starts to open their eyes about how much diversity there really is. All electronic music is actually very different.  For an ‘outsider' it might take a bit to be able to tell the specific differences in the genres. For someone who has no clue about how many genres or sub-genres exist check out Ishkur's Guide to Electronic Music.  Ishkur has assembled quite an interesting map the evolution of different genres and their sub-genres.  I have to give him credit for trying to tackle a description of this magnitude.  Some of the descriptions and music samples may be debatable, but it will certainly give your readers a better view inside of the evolution of electronic music. On another issue, there's a lot of heat in the mainstream and underground music industry in general because the producers/artists tend to get such a small cut of the profits to begin with.  A lot of artists get paid upfront by music labels and artists frequently don't get royalties.  The label or production company who owns the rights to the song often gets the majority of the money.  There's definitely a lot of turmoil & confusion over this stuff. It will be interesting to see how the music industry evolves to address some of these issues.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Karen: The artists who are writing and producing mainstream music that makes it to the airwaves and on the Top 40 charts in the US

Gavin: What's your opinion on file sharing and how it affects you as a musician?

Karen: It's really important to support the incredibly talented people who produce the music.  The unfortunate truth is that most music producers get paid very little for their creative efforts.  File sharing has definitely cheated many producers out of the money.  Most music producers who actually get tracks out make music simply for the love of the music.  They're most definitely NOT producing music to get rich.  If people love the music, they should support the artists and pay their music.

Gavin: What can we expect from you over the next year?

Karen: New Mixes, Out of State Gigs (Colorado and California, more would be great:), Bringing out DJs from other states to play in SLC! Great House Music Nights with Positive Vibes. Possibly teaming up with some hip-hop DJs to do some special mash-up nights Hip-Hop House. This is something I've wanted to experiment with for years so I think it's the year to make it happen.

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Karen: Big City House is teaming up with Gravity to throw a HUGE Valentine's Night party called ‘House of Love' on Saturday Feb 14th at The W Lounge.  This event is going to be off the chain!  We are expecting a line out the door for this one so it's advised people coming down early.  Another reason to come early, the event is FREE before 10:30.  People are free to dress as they please however I know a lot of people will be dressing up for the holiday. We spin on the 2nd Saturday of every month at the W Lounge.  Our music is best described as ‘Jackin House' and is largely influenced by the ‘Chicago Style' of dance music.  Our music has a positive vibe and our goal is to get everyone dancing and we want people leaving feeling better than they did when they walked in the door. Big City House also spins house music EVERY Wed night at a great new club called Jam.  Jam is the newest club in the scene to open it's doors.  I describe Jam very welcoming and sophisticated yet not pretentious.  I love it! On Wednesdays at Jam,  we bring in different guest DJs every week to spin cutting edge house music.  Wednesday nights at Jam keep growing as the word gets out.  We spin from 9PM-Midnight on Wednesday because most people have to work in the morning anyway.  It's definitely a great way to take a break from the work week and dance to some great beats! For more information on Big City House events check out our MySpace page.  Karen can be contacted for bookings through MySpace too.


Josh Max

http://www.myspace.com/joshmax

Gavin: Hey Josh, first off, tell us who you are and a little about yourself.

Josh: My name is Joshua Max Bates. Hence my DJ name Josh Max. I'm 27, born and raised in Utah to an only child family. I currently live in West Jordan with my wife Jenn. We've been married almost six years now with no kids yet. I've been managing a self storage facility for my day job about two years now. The rest of my time is all about music, music, music!

Gavin: Who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Josh: I would have to say Michael Jackson had a huge influence on my musical tastes from a very early age. Some other early influences were Maxwell, Boys II Men, Brian Adams, Chris Isaac, D'angelo, Daft Punk, Duran Duran, Elton John, Kool & the Gang, R. Kelly, Soul II Soul, Travis... there are so many. I've been a fan of all music since I can honestly remember.

Gavin: What made you decide to start performing as a DJ?

Josh: I wanted to do something with my passion and talent for music my whole life. When I discovered Electronic Dance Music, namely House, It changed my life. I knew I had to be a part of it. That's when I started seeking out the hard to find knowledge it takes to learn the art of the DJ and what goes in to actually producing these tracks.

Gavin: What was some of your first equipment and how did you go about learning the skills and audio tricks?

Josh: I started with 2 Technics 1200's, and a terrible American DJ mixer about ten yeas ago. I used some cheap headphones and played through my home stereo. Bare bones for sure. As far as learning the technique, I started by studying other DJ's. I would go out a lot and weasel my way into the booth to just watch. I asked a lot of annoying questions too though. Once I got the main ideas down, it was just practice, practice, practice.

Gavin: What was your first show like for you, and what have you learned along the way about performing?

Josh: My first show was with the Our House Collective (Brent Vincent, DJ Ebenflow) in '05 for their weekly at The W Lounge. I remember being very nervous, but it went really well. I had a lot of compliments after the show. Since then I have learned a lot. You constantly learn as a DJ though. It can be a delicate process interacting with clubbers in what really is a very intimate exchange. I'm still trying to hone in on lots of things I know I need to work on. Becoming a spectacular DJ takes decades.

Gavin: You've got five mix albums out. How have those done for you, and what's the process like putting them together?

Josh: It's been fun to have those out there. They are just promotional material, but it does get attention. I'm constantly digging for new music. Every now and then I put together a set of my favorite tracks of the moment and record a mix. I don't put too much thought into it. I like doing things on the fly. Personally I never put together a set before I play a gig. I usually hover around my newer music, but it's always impromptu.

Gavin: Your mainly DIY in production. Do you prefer it that way in having total control, or do you wish you had help from another source?

Josh: I do actually enjoy total control. I'm a huge perfectionist. My wife would tell you I have "only child syndrome". I do things with other artists, but when it comes to my own stuff I'm a one man show.

Gavin: You're also unsigned at the moment. Are you looking for a label or do you prefer to be independent?

Josh: Once I have enough material that I'm happy with I'm sure I'll start shopping labels. Independent labels I'm sure, but I have no desire to distribute my own music, or manage my own label. I'm open minded though. We'll just have to see.

Gavin: A little state-wide, what are your thoughts on the local music scene, both good and bad?

Josh: I have tunnel vision when it comes to the local "music scene". My focus remains on the club and House Music scene. That said, I think things are in a state of restoration right now. It's an exciting time to be involved. The house scene was very impressive when I first got involved back in '98. About four or so years ago things started to change shape. The rave crowds moved into harder sounds, and Breaks and Drum & Bass took over. The club scene went more "big room". Club venues promoted a more exclusive and VIP vibe. The music changed, and everything sort of lost the soul it had. House Music has always been about unity, love, acceptance, and dancing 'till you're dripping sweat. This is what I've started to witness coming back again. New people are connecting to the music and this vibe. Something that hasn't really been available for a while. Although I must say that during this time, DJ's Jesse Walker (newcitymovement.com) and Nick James worked hard throwing several parties that kept things going for the die-hard's. It's Jesse's NiteLite parties at The W Lounge over the past year that I think started rejuvenating things. We at Big City House have been lucky enough to build on that momentum. Just since we started Big City House about four months ago, we've witnessed huge steps forward in our local House Music community.

Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make it better?

Josh: Everyone involved or interested in the scene needs to come together and support each other. We are a community, there's no room for egos or judgment in any underground movement. We rely on each other completely. We need to give everyone a chance to be a part of things that has a desire to. There's several DJ's coming back out and getting involved that have been M.I.A. There's also new events on the horizon, and hopefully some new venues will open their doors to us. As long as we can all support and respect each other, I think things will get better, and better for us all.

Gavin: Who would you say are the best acts in our scene now?

Josh: That's a tough one. My Favorite locals besides the Big City House collective would probably be JLuvv, Jesse Walker, the Haus Addix (K. Pharaoh, Danny Dance), Brent Vincent, and DJ Purple. We have a ton of great local talent on the DJ front though.

Gavin: Moving to the music industry, tell us what your thoughts are on it in general and the current state it's in?

Josh: It's in a metamorphosis. All the ideals that the music industry was built on are crumbling due to several reasons. The major reason is due to the easily accessible, and easily free MP3 music format. Another big reason is due to inexpensive, pro-studio-quality recording equipment. Artists are no longer tied to expensive pro studios. You can produce a track at home with quality on par with a pro studio for a tiny fraction of the cost. Many of the famous studios from the past 30 years have already closed. Even the Government's music copyright laws don't make any sense for digital media, and many of the new ways people consume, and broadcast music. In the end though, I think we will be better off. Money will move away from the big labels and studios and go more to the artists. Also I think music quality will be better. Huge labels control the kind of music that goes out to the masses. Their looking for a product that will please the largest majority of people. The thing is, the majority of people's taste in music has been perpetually forced upon them their whole lives by those same labels. With more independent labels, and studios the music can diversify. Artist's will have more say in what their own music sounds like. Also artists won't be tied to the expensive time constraints of a big studio, and will have more time to experiment and perfect their music. It will take some time I think for the industry to come into it's own again, but when it does I think we'll all be better off.

Gavin: What do you think of the current trends in music that are getting radio play today?

Josh: That's difficult because radio trends vary widely from state to state. Due to reasons I touched on though, I think there is getting to be more interesting and diverse music put out into the mainstream. Personally, I don't listen to the radio much at all. I wish the radio was a better source for discovering new music like it used to be. Now stations tend to stick with the charts, and play songs you already know and love. I think radio these days is afraid to take risks. It can be an amazing source, but unfortunately, today it's just a way to drill the 25 most popular songs of whatever genre into your head a hundred times a day.

Gavin: What's your opinion on file sharing and how it affects you as a musician?

Josh: I am shocked sometimes at how many people, DJ's included, are blown away when I tell them I buy all my music. I don't understand someone who wants success for themselves in music, but would rather die than pay $1.99 for a song. That mentality makes absolutely no sense to me. I believe in supporting those who may potentially support me. DJ's and musicians have to support each other or else we're all working for nothing. Also, I think purchasing your music forces you to be more selective in what you get. As a DJ I think that's great because the quality of music I end up with is so good. Buy your music people!

Gavin: What can we expect from you over the next year?

Josh: More shenanigans with my Big City House compadres Ms. KinetiK, and Dan Dixon of course. Hopefully we'll continue to throw successful parties, and book some new ones. I'm sure you'll see me guest DJ-ing various one-offs from time to time too. I'm really hoping to put lots of time into production this year. There is a lot I want to do, and still a lot I want to learn on that end. I hope to have an EP out by the end of '09. I'm also taking jobs for audio mastering. I'm actually considering starting a small business for it. Should be a big year!

Gavin: Is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?

Josh: You can contact me for DJ bookings, mastering, or production work at DJJoshMax@gmail.com or my MySpace. Check out my DJ mixes for free download at Vuetone.com I'm with Big City House every 2nd Saturday of the month at The W Lounge. February 14th we're doing a huge Valentines party with special guest JLuvv. These parties incredible, so come be a part. Big City House is also at Jam (751 N. 300 W., SLC) every Wednesday night. Along with us we feature special guest DJ's weekly. And it's FREE!!! I will also be playing Vidiots II for the Night Droppin' crew Saturday February 7th at the X-Room next to Northern Xposure (1847 Wall Ave., Ogden). This is a fun and unique party featuring video game tournaments of Gears of War 2, Halo 3, and Mario Kart. All mixed in with dancing and great music. That'll be a fun one.


Dan Dixon

http://www.myspace.com/djdandixon

Gavin: Hey Dan, first off, tell us who you are and a little about yourself.

Dan: Myself, Josh Max, and Ms. Kinetik (Karen) make up the House music DJ collective called "Big City House." We are a somewhat new collective that has been playing house together since about August. Mainly we play at W Lounge and the newly opened club called JAM. We call ourselves Big City House because we like to think that we bring house music you'd normally only hear in bigger cities to Salt Lake. I have been spinning house music for just over ten years now (wow I am getting old), but I've only been in Salt Lake for about two years. Moved here from Knoxville Tennessee where I graduated college (go Vols right?... maybe next year) but grew up in music city Nashville. Although I'm not a huge fan of country music Nashville was a great place to grow up because every major music act, even non-country, wants to play there, so I was fortunate to get to see a lot of great acts back in the day. I was actually born on Long Island in New York where most of my family is from but moved to Nashville when I was about 3. Also lived in Prague, Czech Republic for a year between Knoxville and Salt Lake where I taught English and DJed. One of the best experiences of my life and although I was the most broke I'd ever been in my life I wouldn't trade it for anything. In college I did a brief study abroad program in Brazil which was equally awesome. Also been to Japan, Poland, Croatia, Austria, France, Switzerland, and Italy. Travelling has always been a big thing in my life and I'm glad I got to do so much before I had to get this whole full-time job thing.

Gavin: Who were some of your favorite acts and musical influences growing up?

Dan: As far as electronic/dance music goes one of my biggest influences was Daft Punk. When their first album “Homework” came out it solidified my love for house and I've been hooked ever since. I also was lucky to get to see Mark Farina live long ago and he blew my mind and that really hooked me on the Chicago House sound that I still love today. Other influences The Sound Republic, Inland Knights, Conga Squad, Chemical bros, Hot Chip, and so much more. Non electronic I've always liked Peral Jam, Beastie Boys, Digable Planets, the normal stuff I guess.

Gavin: What made you decide to start performing as a DJ?

Dan: Back in the days of high school my friends and I, who were all under 18 at time obviously, had the weekend mission of getting in clubs and warehouse parties to hear this new fangled "electronic music". Being under 18 we usually had to hide in bathrooms and dark corners right around midnight until they kicked everyone under 18 out so we could stay til the wee hours of the night. I'm amazed how many times we were able to pull this off especially since I didn't look over 18 (still can't grow facial hair to save my life). Somehow we'd usually have one ID between us that said "over 18" and we'd quickly pass that to each other when they asked for a license. Still can't believe that worked. Maybe they didn't really care that much back then. Back then being the mid to late 90s. Although in '98 I finally turned 18 and that wasn't a problem anymore. So going to these parties I'd spend most of the night dancing my ass off to house DJs as well as maticulasly watching them to try to figure how the hell they made this intoxicating music. Finally at the end of '98 I decided I had to get turntables and give this thing a try. So I saved up my money from working at Hastings and bought my first pair of turntables, which were a shitty pair of Numark direct drive tables.

Gavin: What was some of your first equipment and how did you go about learning the skills and audio tricks?

Dan: As mentioned my first tables were shitty Numarks. Although in retrospect I am really glad I had those because then once I got the finer Technics I could really appreciate the awesomeness of them. In fact I really encourage people who are just starting out to buy shitty equipment for that very reason. If you can match a beat on crappy equipment then your gonna be even better when you get good stuff. Also if you decide your not as into it as you thought you might be then at least you didn't spend a fortune on it. In the beginning I didn't have anyone I knew that DJed until a few years later. So it was pretty much trial and error for the first few years, figuring out how to beat match was difficult. I'd learn from watching others at parties and clubs and try to ask the DJs a few questions to help me out. Every time I'd figure out something new it was like someone handed me a million dollars and I'd practice the shit out of a new technique until I had it down. For example: listening to the high pitch snares instead of the bass to match a beat or getting the phasing matched up so things changed at the same time etc... I'm sure I drove my parents crazy but they both worked so the days I didn't work and they did I could bang it loud for a few hours til they got home. My brothers and sister may not of liked it but driving them crazy was part of growing up. A lot of times I'd come home from parties really late and be dying to get on my decks so I'd go in my room and work on music at what I thought was a quiet level, but my ears where a little off from hearing loud music all night and I'd often wake up my parents and they'd rush into my room looking at me like I had gone totally insane. So basically lots and lots of practice back then is what taught me. I was too young to get into clubs let alone get a gig at one so I had quite a few years under my belt before I finally got my first gig.

Gavin: What was your first show like for you, and what have you learned along the way about performing?

Dan: Playing in your bedroom and playing at a club is night and day. Its hard to say what can prepare someone for their first gig because everything is 100 times louder any mistake you make is that much more amplified. Lucky for me I had a few years of experience under my belt so I felt somewhat confident... But even before I got my first club gig I played at keg parties in college quite a bit. (Yeah in other states this isn't illegal, imagine that kind of world.) So the first keg party I played at there was probably about 100 people at and I can't tell how great it made me feel to see so many people dancing their asses off to my music. I felt like I had won the lottery and just hooked up with Miss America at the same time. As time went on I got booked at more parties and started getting a little "street cred" as they say. Later in college I met a local house DJ named Kevin Nowell that was pretty well established and for the first time I had somewhat of a mentor. Some of things he taught me and showed me made me think I really didn't know anything at all in the past. He had a night at a local club and booked me for my first club gig at a place called Electric Ballroom. The club was nicely tucked away under an interstate bridge in downtown Knoxville, invisible to most of the population, but to me it was Ibizia. After a few shots of confidence I got up to play the opening set for the maybe 15 people t

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