When we first checked in with the dashing DJ that is Palmer Auty back in November 2007
, the '90s dance party SNAP! that he co-chairs was barely off the ground. This July the party will celebrate its second anniversary and boy, have times changed. The party has moved venues from Branx to Holocene as well as expanded by way of adding the Hot Mess DJs to its regular lineup. We talk in detail about the evolution of the dance party including its move from Branx as well as how its expansion to include the Hot Mess DJs has improved SNAP! for party goers. Plus Auty talks about roller skating. Twice. Grab your scuba fins (you'll need 'em when you get to question three) and dive on in for heartfelt clichés and a eureka moment for those of us who aren't so keen on socializing at drunken parties:
How did you decide on your DJ name? What's your real name?
My real name is Palmer Auty. I took my DJ name from the cartoon "Home Movies," from the episode where the kids form a band and only play one song—"Freaky Outty"—that nobody else likes. But they have fun. That's kind of the attitude I have about DJing: Not taking it too seriously, having fun and freaking out!
As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this." How often do you encounter this?
Not very many places in this town. I don't know where those guys hang out, but if I'm somewhere people aren't dancing I get up out of there, not complain about it!
But one of my favorite dance phenomenons is when the music is something "serious" or artsy where the majority of the crowd is sitting or standing quietly, contemplating and stroking their chins, but over in the corner or right up by the stage there's one dude working it out all by himself like its Studio 54! So sometimes I suppose even non-dancers can elevate the fun in the room for the rest of us.
I wanna play a party underwater. Or at one of those aquarium observatories inside a huuuge glass bubble dome with sea creatures swimming and floating all around you. Maybe I could DJ the aquarium's holiday office party so the whole dancefloor would be packed with drunk marine biologists!
How do you feel about requests?
Usually I'm pretty nice to requesters. But about 85 percent of the time I have just one or two crates of records with me, and I either don't own the song they want or I left if at home. It's just tiring when people keep coming back and asking for it over and over, or busting out lines like "Play something like Girl Talk!" or "Nobody can dance to this!" when there's a full dancefloor behind them. Isn't it more fun to hear a great song you didn't expect than to hear "Disturbia" again? There's absolutely no reason to stick around and pout about the music in any club in Portland if they're not playing the kind of stuff you want to dance to, because somewhere else definitely is!
Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
No great long stories really. There's an unfortunate trend among some clubgoers to use "techno" as a blanket term for any dance music they don't like. My favorite comment from a dancer at SNAP came while I was playing either "The Bomb" or some other '90s house jam, and a girl asked me if I was ever gonna stop playing "techno." She explained, "There really wasn't that much techno in the '90s!"
Do you DJ full time? / What do you do outside of DJing?
I try to DJ as much as possible and I sell hot dogs during the day. Best on the west side!
Where can we find you venue-wise?
Every last Friday I play SNAP! '90s Dance Party at Holocene, hosted by Ms. Coco B with a rotating lineup of rad DJs including Colin Jones, Hoop Dreams, HR Paperstacks and Hannukah Miracle.
I also play 3rd Tuesdays with my DJ-BFF Nathan Detroit at Matt & Kellan's Chedda party at the Crown Room. It's one of the best up and coming weekday dance parties, full of friends with really good taste getting drunk in the middle of the week.
How'd you get your current main gig?
Coco and I came up with the idea for SNAP! about two years ago while trying to plan fundraising events for Portland Radio Authority. We were feeling the rising influence of '90s culture with more and more party kids of that generation coming of age, and there was no one else really working the early '90s as a theme for a dance night so we jumped on it! Branx was a new venue at the time, and one that had a lot of good memories for us from its past incarnations, plus its exposed brick and girder decor makes you feel like you're back at a good ol' fashioned warehouse party!
How has SNAP! changed since its move to Holocene?
As much as we loved doing the party at Branx, Holocene opened us up to a much wider audience that might not have made it out of their way to check us out. Moving to a bigger venue has also allowed us to bring in bigger guests from outside Portland like Sammy Bananas and UNITY.
When was the decision made to expand it from you and Colin Jones to include the DJs of the Hot Mess crew?
Just a few months shy of our first year anniversary the Hot Mess guys, who'd played SNAP! before as guests, came to us to pitch the idea of expanding the night. They were interested in getting a similar party going, but offered instead to merge with us and move the night to Holocene.
How has that changed the dynamic of the night?
Well, me and Colin Jones are both big used bin diggers, so when it was just us we were playing a lot more of the out there, esoteric '90s stuff and less of the well-known hits. [With] Hot Mess being, of course, all about the toppest party jams, combining our crates gives the partygoer the absolute best experience: Combining the classics with the stuff you forgot about a decade ago.
How long have you been spinning?
I think seven or eight years? My first job was as a phone surveyor at a call center in Eugene, and I spent my first two paychecks on a pair of CDJs and a mixer from the pawn shop a block away from work. Soon picked up turntables and started collecting records. The other aspects of my life have been on hold since then.
What drew you to DJing originally?
Its embarrassing really. And cliché . But it involves watching DJs at outdoor raves and wanting to do what they were doing. Also it's a great hobby to get into if you like to drink but don't like talking to people at parties!
What are your thoughts on vinyl versus CDs versus laptops?
I think that debate has been wrung completely dry at this point. What songs you play and how fun you are to listen to will always be more important than what kind of set-up you use. I will say that I'd much rather rollerskate to a gig with a little tiny messenger bag on my back than take a cab to and from with two crates!
What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
Woof. Lets see...
1. Bee Gees - "Love You Inside Out" (Cole Medina Edit) - American Standard
2. Morgan Geist - "24K" - Environ
3. Cut Copy - "Far Away" (Hercules & Love Affair Remix) - Unreleased
4. Basement Jaxx - "Twerk" - Atlantic Jax
5. Lidell Townsell - "Nu Nu" - Mercury
How would you describe yourself in five words or less, complete sentence or not?
Cookin' mashed potatoes for breakfast!
How do you describe the genre you play?
Roller rink gold.
Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
All the SNAP! crew, Nathan Detroit, Dr. Adam, Bonaparte, Matt & Kellan, the mighty mighty Rude Dudes, all the NEON rave children, Girlfriends, Mr. Tigerstripes, Dundiggy, Beyonda, 31avas, M. Quiet, Evil One, Tyler Tastemaker, and if I forgot a name don't feel bad, I still wanna party with you!
Photo care of Wessweee