Guards, to your stations. Prepare for an invasion. The enemy awaits. Or shall we say best friend forever? Yes, today Rob Simonsen of that other weekly newspaper in Portland (the one that's not the Tribune
) steps up to the plate this week to field questions as DJ Futurehorse. And I'm telling you it could've gone either way what with End Hits and LocalCut meeting on the virtual dancefloor. Luckily, instead of the vibe of Michael Jackson's "Beat it" video, this Q&A has the epicness of Baby and Johnny's final number in Dirty Dancing
Often mistaken for Charlie Salas-Humara of Panther due to their uncanny resemblance, Simonsen unashamedly gravitates to all that is twee. Here he fills us in on the acts that steal his heart, his history as a DJ (he used to spin full-time until moving to the Rose City) and gives a shout out to cassingle in the process.
How did you decide on your DJ name?
A while ago I was signing up to comment on some blog and had to come up with a screen name. I had just read a Dinosaur Comic that made reference to "Back to the Future horse", and my abbreviated version just kind of stuck.
As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Remember that Dead Milkmen song "You'll Dance to Anything?" I kind of feel it's like that, because even though I don't ever really play dance music anymore, there is always somebody ready to start grooving when Public Image or the Smiths comes on. However, I'm sure that if I ever try and do a dance-specific night I'll be singing a different tune.
My friends and people with End Hits in their RSS-feed.
How do you feel about requests?
Sure, yeah, bring 'em on.
Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
When I first started DJing regularly, it was when "Hey Ya" had just come out. I used to play this Thursday night club thing that usually had a couple of bands playing and me playing records in between and after. This was in a town that really didn't have too much of a scene, so all of my friends would inevitably show up. The only problem was that the bar/smoking area was separate from the dance floor, so most nights I was playing to a pretty empty dance floor. Except, of course, when "Hey Ya" came on. Then there would be this sea of people running--and I literally mean running here--from the back bar area to the dance floor, and it would be packed with people going nuts for two and a half minutes. It never mattered what I put on afterward, because nobody would ever stay--they would all just slink back to the bar area.
What do you do outside of DJing?
My main gig is at CDForge/Cravedog
--making CDs, records, T-Shirts, posters, and everything in between--for bands. I also freelance for the Mercury and blog over at End Hits, as well as run Skywriting Records, a little indie pop record label.
How many gigs have you spun and where?
Ha, I've actually only played thrice in the five plus years I've lived in Portland, and both times were very recently--once at East for a music industry night, and once at a First Thursday party at my office. Before moving here, though, I used to support myself solely on DJing, which I did roughly three nights a week.
Where can we find you venue wise? Looking to book any regular gigs?
I think the music industry night at East is going to keep happening, so I'll hopefully be down there once a month. But yeah, I am definitely interested in more gigs, and hope to be playing out more soon.
How long have you been spinning?
I think I started in 2002. Granted, I haven't been playing out in five years, so I still feel pretty new to all this.
What drew you to DJing originally?
I just sort of fell into it, I think. My friends were looking to get a DJ for a night they were putting together, and as I was the person with the most records, I won by default.
What are your thoughts on vinyl versus CDs versus laptops?
I don't really have one. I mean, I prefer the cassingle
, but most people don't want to hear early '90s R&B jams so I end up playing records. I'm not technically proficient, so I really respect people that are, whatever the format.
What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
Favorite tracks to play at the moment:
1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - "Come Saturday"
2. GIRLS - "Morning Light"
3. Love is All - "Last Choice"
4. Vivian Girls "Where Do You Run To?"
5. Something from Morrissey and Bruce Springsteen--I don't care where or when I'm playing, something from these two sneak into my set.
How would you describe yourself in five words or less - complete sentence or not:
Never Ending Radical Dude.
How do you describe the genre(s) you play?
I'm a big fan of twee and jangle pop, so I think a lot of it falls in that area, but really I'm just waiting for someone to request a set of nothing but late '90s emo. I'll keep bringing my copy of The Power of Failing out just in case.
Who are your other favorite Portland DJs
My friends: HR Paperstacks, Invisiboy, Maxx Bass, Flight Risk, and other people that I am sure I am forgetting right now.
Photo by Nilina Mason-Campbell