December 19th, 2008 | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns, Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: DJ Zimmie

     
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djzimmie When DJ Zimmie graces the decks tonight at Branx, it could be one of the Rose City's last chances to get in on his action. Yes, the Pittsburgh transplant is leaving Bridgetown to relocate back to Pennsylvania's City of Bridges come January. It's a sad case when you consider his skill set that produces hopping crowds and some of the raddest remixes (check out Cut of the Day today for his mash-up of "Push It" and "My Love").

While we do chat a bit about his impending departure, we're more focused on the actual music, from the standard questions about how he got his start to questions and answers wholly inspired by his creations. His remix of "Love Lockdown" leads us to discuss Kanye West's 808's and Heartbreak and DJ Zimmie's thoughts on the disc is the most thoughtful critique I've heard yet. We also talk about Jazzy Jeff, who DJ Zimmie has shared the bill with numerous times. Hint: there's a lot more to Jazzy Jeff than the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

How did you decide on your DJ name?
My DJ name is just my nickname. Everyone calls me Zimmie. Most people I know don't even know my real name. My real name is top secret, like Prince.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this." How often do you encounter this?
I rarely have a problem getting people moving. If you can't make people dance, you might want to reconsider being a DJ.

Ideal crowd?
My ideal crowd would be a varied mix of people with good musical tastes. I love it when crowds know good music from past generations and I can get open. Obviously they're also dancing non-stop and singing every word.

How do you feel about requests?
Requests are good and bad. On one hand they tell you what a person wants. On the other hand, usually the requester is a drunken moron who either wants inappropriate music, terrible music or isn't paying attention to what I'm doing anyways. Sometimes you get someone that actually asks for a good song at the appropriate time.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
I was DJing at Pussycat Lounge in Phoenix. I'm doing my thing and my homie DJ Nugget is yelling at me "Zimmie, this girl wants to hear the new Beyoncé" over and over again. I look over and I'm like "Okay, no problem." Nugget just keeps yelling that she wants to hear it over and over again. I look back over and she's standing there topless. Next song: Beyonce. Some people just know how to request a song. Cash works almost as well.

What are your thoughts on Kanye's new direction (since you've made a mix of "Love Lockdown")?
I personally am not into it. If you love his new album, cool. I look to Kanye as one of the last good MC/producers left. I just want 'Ye to give me a great sample-based hip-hop album. I understand he wants to develop as an artist but I think he lacks the knowledge musically to write the songs he wants to. 'Ye will never be Quincy Jones or Radiohead and he should recognize that and at least pay the musicians to help write his stuff if he wants to put it out. He keeps saying he's just putting this album out for himself but he seems to be making a pretty big stink about it. I've played it for people and didn't tell them it was Kanye and they thought it was terrible. When I tell them it's Kanye, they try to say, "Oh, well I kinda like it" as if it's good because it's Kanye. I made the "Love Lockdown" remix (as did 1,000 other people) because you couldn't dance to that track or any other track on the album for that matter. "Paranoid" is an okay opener [It's not the album's opener, but it's by far the most upbeat joint on 808's -Ed.]

How do your mixes comes to you? Like "Push It" with JT? Do they just randomly meld together in your head and you then put it together in reality or do you take a song and spend time thinking about what song(s) would best compliment it?
Sometimes I do something live and then go home and recreate it. Sometimes a song just bothers me until I need to do something with it. "Push My Love" had to be done because "My Love" was so big and so low energy. A lot of my remixes come out of a need for a danceable version of a popular song.

What programs do you use for our mixes?
Right now I use Ableton Live primarily for my editing.

Do you DJ full time?
I DJ full time and do freelance marketing for clients in markets around the country.

What type of marketing?
Marketing-wise I handle events for my clients from idea to after party but it can also be specific marketing initiatives such as product sampling, surveys, custom giveaways, etc.

What do you do outside of DJing and marketing?
My hobbies include listening to music, reading, watching movies, exercise, finding new places to eat, yoga and general personal development. I actually really enjoy working.

When did you play with DJ Jazzy Jeff? What was that experience like?
I've played with Jeff a few times. Jeff is a god. Most people don't realize that Jeff has been one of the top DJs in the world for the last 20+ years. He invented and named most of the scratches that DJs today use. People may only remember him from the TV show or working with Will Smith but he's the most amazing and inspiring DJ. He is super humble, always has a smile on his face and can murder any party. If you get the chance to see him, do not miss it.

What drew you to DJing originally?
I love music obviously. I had a conversation with my good friend DJ Nugget about wishing there was a job where I could just check out new music all day. He said, "Why don't you start DJing?" The rest is history.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
Use whatever you are need to do your thing. I've seen people kill it on all three. The only thing that disheartens me is when DJs are reluctant to make the step from vinyl to laptop for philosophical reasons and their DJ game suffers because of it. Using a laptop won't make a bad DJ good, but it can help take someone's game to the next level if they're willing to put in the work, especially if you want to start playing out of town. Jazzy Jeff was one of the first big DJs to fully endorse Serato (laptop program) because it allowed him to help lower the costs of playing out of town by not having to ship and travel with hundreds of records. People give me BS about not using all vinyl and then I see them DJ and let's just say it isn't good.

How would you describe yourself in five words or less—complete sentence or not:
Number one, two, three, four and five.

What might we find ourselves dancing to on the dancefloor if you're the DJ?
"Pleasure Principle" by Janet Jackson
"Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" by Michael Jackson
"Let's Get High" by Dr. Dre
"What You Know" by T.I.
"Big Pimpin" by Jay-Z

How do you describe the genre you play?
Classic vs. Fresh

Why'd you move to Portland from Pittsburgh?
I moved to Portland to figure my life out and take in the good air.

But I hear you'll be moving back?
I'll be relocating back to Pittsburgh in January but I'll be back to the Northwest as soon as I check some things off my life to-do list.

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
Evil One, HR Paperstacks, Gigahurtz, Doktor Adam, Lady Adie, Nature, Tyler Tastemaker.

DJ Zimmie lights up the decks tonight, Friday December 19th at Branx at 10 pm as presented by FuckBadMusic

Links:
DJ ZimmieSpace
DJ Zimmie official site
2008 Club Mix - free download via Zshare

Photo courtesy of DJ Zimmie
 
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