October 17th, 2008 | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: DJ Patricia Furpurse

     
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patricia Honey Owens has more on her plate than we thought. Not only does she make music in a myriad of bands and run the retail store Rad Summer, but she apparently doles out DJ names, too. Like Prince declaring Tara Leigh Patrick to be Carmen Electra, Owens gave a young lady by the name of Patricia Hall the moniker of DJ Patricia Furpurse for when she stepped behind the decks. The name has stuck for a number of years, and Hall brings us from that past to her present during this Hang the DJ Q&A. Over the course of this guide to Patricia Furpurse, she shares a unique request story of a deaf patron asking for more bass, extols the virtues of buying music, not only in terms of vinyl, but by way of WAV files, and fills us in on the behind-the-scenes details about her XLR8R profile in the mag's all-Portland October issue.

How did you decide on your DJ name?
When I first started DJing I knew nothing about how it was done. When I was first asked the question, "What is your DJ name?" it was the first time it occurred to me I should have one. I started out as a substitute DJ for my friend, Michael who went as "The White Sheik" and played psychedelic rock, stoner rock, funk, soul, and world music at Dunes once a week. When the then club owner Honey Owens heard my set she asked me to play there regularly and I got my own night called "Emotional Rescue." She [then] gave me the name DJ Furpurse.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this"—how often do you encounter this?
Luckily, I don't encounter an empty dance floor too much anymore. I think the general public is more inclined to dancing to electronic dance music now that it is appearing more and more in mainstream hip-hop and rock.

It's very important to be able to read your audience and give them something they can relate to. I try to get as much information as I can about the event I'm going to play beforehand so I can play tracks that people will like. Another trick to getting the dance floor moving is dancing yourself and showing your love for the music you are playing; it's contagious.

Ideal Crowd?
My ideal crowd is anyone who wants to dance and try to understand where I am coming from with my set. I always keep the people in the room in mind when I select tracks. Playing tracks with your audience in mind is a way of having a collective conversation with a whole room that can become so complex, beautiful, and exciting. It's constantly evolving with and responding to the different people involved who are dancing or not dancing and how they are dancing. When people let the music affect them a new world is created that we built together through music and imagination. A Latin beat can bring a little Brazil to Portland, a little French vocals can take you to Paris. I am not an exclusive audience DJ, but I do want my audience to have an open mind. I want everyone to have fun and unite for beauty, music, and freedom. Music and dancing have the ability to bring people together who may not otherwise choose to be together due to certain differences. As long as there is music and dancing I think peace has a chance.

How do you feel about requests?
I don't mind requests if they are given early in my set, are complimentary to what I am playing, or during a slow paced night. If I have the requested track in my collection and it is something I like then I will play it in the right circumstance. However, if I have been on a roll for a half-hour and someone comes to me with a song request that would take me off track, I won't want to play it. In those situations, I try to go with a compromise. My preference is that the audience will have an open mind and trust my plan, but on occasion I have had some good requests and it's exciting to let yourself be guided a little.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
Last month at Red Cap for 546 Tuesday, I got a request from a deaf young man who wanted me to play louder so he could dance to the vibrations of the bass. I believe he is completely deaf. That request moved me deeply because I can't imagine what it would be like to be deaf and regard a room full of dancing people and wish to join in. I applaud this young man for coming to me and asking me for more bass. I turned it up and played more bass heavy tracks and watched him dance. I told him later that he should check out Kulturszene on second Fridays at Branx because they have a great sound system there for feeling the bass.

What do you do job and hobby wise outside of DJing?
Right now I don't have a day job. I am looking for a new job, though. I worked at Whole Foods before and then at Bent Image Lab as an Art Department PA. Hobby wise, I do a little bit of modeling and in the past I participated in dance and theater performance. I like to take photos to document the music and art events I attend.

Where can we find you?
I mostly DJ at Rotture and Branx. My main gig is at a party called Neon that happens every first Friday at Branx. I sometimes DJ at Tube for Bang a Rang, at Dunes for Come Alive!, for 546 Tuesdays at Red Cap, Super Kidz at Rotture, and many Saturdays at Masu. This month I have two shows in San Francisco which is super exciting for me. I have one show at a fashion exhibition here in Portland this month. If you want to know where and when I am DJing, the best way to find out is to check out my MySpace calendar.

How'd you get your current main gig?
Neon is my current main gig and I got it through DJ Tre Slim, who is the founder of Neon. He started the party alone, but asked me and DJ Pocketrock-it to be his partners after he booked us as guests together. We have great chemistry between us. I've been a part of Neon for over a year now and I love it. I now help with the booking of guests for Neon, too.

How long have you been spinning?
I have been spinning for four years now.

What drew you to DJing originally?
I love to dance so I began collecting dance music records and playing them at home to dance to. When my friends would come over to my house to hang out, I would play them dance songs and they would tell me I should DJ. I luckily got the chance and have been keeping busy with it ever since.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
When I first started DJing it was all on vinyl format. Then I discovered obscure music I wanted to play that was out of print and on records worth hundreds of dollars. I thought it wise to archive those songs to CD from the records after too many nights of people falling on the turntables, or spilling drinks on my records. Some of those records were ultra rare and borrowed from Discourage records and friends so the last thing I wanted was to see them get hurt. So I would do a mix of CDs and vinyl. Now I use Serato Scratch, which I love and am very pleased to be using. It's a great way to combine all three formats. If I want to put on a record all I have to do is switch the channel on the mixer and put it on. I can import my CDs as WAV files into Serato, too. I can easily buy music online that may not be in Portland stores. I love that I can set trigger points on the tracks and loop portions from 1/8 of a beat to 32 beats. I love having the ability to use a vinyl/turntable/mixer interface with the program.

I think the biggest debate about which format is better has to do with the quality of sound of the song and whether or not the music industry and artists are getting proper compensation for their work. In cases where it is possible, I buy and play WAV formated songs which are a relatively “pure”, i.e. lossless file types, suitable for retaining “first generation” archived files of high quality. This format sounds great in the club and in my discussions with several serious sound engineers, there is no cause to complain about Serato as a DJing program or WAV formated music.

I have no problem with any format that people want to DJ on. I do believe that the artists should get paid for their work and one should strive to present that music in a great sounding format.

What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
This is a weird list, but I play different music depending on where I'm at.

Heartthrob- "Futures Past"
Burnski- "NoseBonker"
Gianni Pellecchia- "Mnemonic"
Diplo & Buraka Som Sistema- "Inna De Ghetto" (remix)
Turboweekend- "My Name Is Legion" Patience edit

How would you describe yourself in five words or less—complete sentence or not:
Wild, emotional, helpful, social, energetic.

How do you describe the genre you play?
I don't play strictly within one genre. I play everything from synth punk to house to HiNRG, to electro bangers to minimal techno. There are little threads in music that allow you to make these journeys through the worlds music. I like to keep myself and others on their toes, but there is a time and a place for being pure. I am a whimsical gal and I sometimes don't know what genre I'm going to play on a given night. I just love music and want to dance. I get these ideas and go with it. My gut is usually right.

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
My other favorite Portland DJs are DJ Tre Slim, DJ Koolaid, DJ Pocketrock-it, DJ Dome, DJ Linoleum, Linger & Quiet, M. Quiet, and 31 Avas.

How did the XLR8R profile come about?
I got an e-mail from XLR8R in August saying I had been selected as a DJ they wanted to interview for their annual city issue which is dedicated to Portland this year. I was contacted by Kerry McLaughlin from XLR8R in July to set up a show for DJ Star Eyes at Neon. I think they learned about me at that time and decided later to include me in the issue, which I am very grateful for.

DJ Patricia Furpurse's next Portland appearance is on Friday October 24th at Branx. The next Neon is on November 7th at Branx.

Links:
Patricia FurpurseSpace
July 2008 DJ Mix Download
Patricia Furpurse flickr
NeonSpace

Photo by Minh Tran
 
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