My first introduction to Manny Reyes came via a Madonna tribute night at Holocene. He had ladies dancing their hearts out on the speakers and my friends and I giggling with glee over his spinning the best of Madge's hits. That was this time last year, before I'd go on to to see him fronting Atole and catering to the kids behind the decks at PDX Pop Now!'s all-ages CD release romp at Holocene this past May. One note of Rye Rye's remix of M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes" and the foyer of the venue devolved into joyful chaos, complete with everyone's arms in the air, miming the shooting of rifles in tune to the gun-shots in the song. In my experience it seems as though he knows how to read and work a crowd, sensing what jams will bring dancers to the floor and keep them there.
As DJ BJ, Reyes has DJed shows with !!!, Berlin dwelling Chicks on Speed, DAT Politics, FS Blumm, DFA-signed Juan MacLean, the Killers, Matmos, Nudge, Nice Nice, Apparat, the Books, big apple legends New York Dolls, and Peaches, to name only a few. Know that it's a much longer list, set to include Born Ruffians as of this coming Monday, October 13th at Holocene. In addition to these slots, Reyes holds it down once a month at his Supernature club night with Copy and E*Rock at Branx.
Needless to say, Manny Reyes is one busy dude, but he's taken the time out to answer these questions and compose Hang the DJ's first ever companion mix to the playlist he lays out in detail. Have fun reading and listening:
How did you decide on your DJ name?
One night working at Kinko's me and a friend made fake business cards. Mine said "90% of DJs suck, DJ BJ swallows" and "Any genre, Any time, Any Place" plus my cell number on the other. I got a few gigs using the cards and I was going to [use] a real name when I got my first weekly at a drag queen bar in Vegas in 2003, but they LOVED DJ BJ and made me promise not to change it.
As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this"—how often do you encounter this?
I encounter this pretty often because I'm not always a dance DJ. For instance, if I play an indie show like Born Ruffians I'll throw a bunch of Television, T-Rex, and Neutral Milk Hotel alongside Silver Apples, Cluster, and Boards of Canada. Wait, I can think of people who would dance to all that, haha.
How do you feel about requests?
I feel awesome about them, good to keep a connection flowin'...
Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
[In] summer 2003 I was DJing my dance party weekly Tramps in Vegas. It was "straight night at the drag queen bar": Tom of Finland pictures on red velvet walls, tons of cute 18 and older indie kids dancing. Lots of requests for the Rapture, Peaches, DJ Assault—very dancey crowd. One night this drunk tattooed guy comes up to the booth and says I can have money if I play some good rock music. I ended up playing the first side of Television's "Marquee Moon" for $200 while the dude danced with his buddies all night. Now that is my lucky record up on my wall.
My other favorite story was when I DJed New Years Eve at Holocene and this drunk pretty girl asked for Prince... As I was playing Prince!
Do you DJ full time? What do you do outside of DJing?
I DJed full-time for a few years but missed having health insurance so I got a cool job at Whole Foods. I also spend two days a week with my left-field dance band Atole. Plus I'm working on a coloring book full of abstract drawings for kids Pre-Kindergarten, and my first solo record (Explosivo!)—queer-themed Spanish vocals over psych electronic pop. My friend Cody from Vegas (who lives here now and plays in Flaspar) is making it with me.
Where can we find you?
Supernature, second Saturdays at Branx as well as at various events around town.
How'd you get your current main gig?
Marius and I wanted to move our night at Someday to a smaller, more underground location. We approached Branx about it and we are stoked.
How's the night doing at Branx?
The music has always been fun and solid and the space and sound are perfect for live electronic dance bands. E*Rock, Marius and I wanted a dance night where we could ask friends to play and have a chance to experiment with our own records and live performances. So far, so good. We're planning some awesome events, including our first Rotture edition with a special appearance by Seattle's Truckasauras 9/8. Plus E*Rock is playing a live set post-Ratatat [tour]! with me and Marius DJing.
Is Supernature's name from the Goldfrapp album?
Sort of... It is also the name of Solenoid's last dance record. But both those records were influenced by Cerrone's 1977 full-length Supernature—a concept dance record about a future where science goes awry and turns nature dark and scary.
I also think there is a certain type of person who is so awesome and cool with themselves they're supernatural, like my friends Patricia Furpurse or Deb at Dot's—they're so much fun to be around and both ladies have a unique and awesome fashion sense.
How long have you been spinning?
I started spinning acid techno and house at underground all-ages Mexican raves when I was 16 in 1994. My best friend Luis Gonzales aka DJ Image was 17 and an established DJ. I would spin for a few minutes here and there when he had to go to the restroom, dance, or make out with a girl. I would always play "Popcorn" by Hot Butter from my mom's disco collection to freak kids out, most of them pretending to be high. It's funny thinking about the hours of practice I would put in for just 15 minutes work, ha!
What do you see as the major differences between DJing in Portland as opposed to Vegas? Are there any similarities?
DJs in Vegas can get paid thousands a night at dozens of high-end night clubs. That's the biggest difference. Tons of those DJs have pre-recorded sets too, like a CD playing as they stand up there egging the audience and looking/acting very cool. Dead fucking serious.
Vegas has better hip-hop, R&B plus soul DJs and dance nights. This party "the Get Back" [has been] going on eight years or so [and] is my favorite dance night period. However, Portland has better clubs and club music overall. Three years ago I DJed Vegas and this guy called me an asshole because I didn't have any Candlebox on me. Then he told me the disco shit I was playing wasn't ever gonna work. He was talking about Morgan Geist, Lindstrom and various Italo classics. Ha!
What drew you to DJing originally?
I love to dance. Plus in 1983 when I was five, my older musician cousin gave me my first record: Devo's Are We Not Men. He also showed me movies like Wild Style and Beat Street—tons of highly-influential DJs and electro-producers performing; I wanted to do what they were all doing. Also my sister's favorite movie is Sixteen Candles and I always wanted to be the DJ at the school dance who has a crazy hat on jumping up-and-down with his hands up in the air the whole time. So rad.
This is a silly question now-a-days when some of the world's most high-profile DJs (many of them vinyl purists) are traveling to the U.S. with laptops because their vinyl isn't allowed across the border. However, as a Portland-only DJ that loves to support locally-owned record stores, I will always prefer and romanticize vinyl.
What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
Here are the last 5 new records I bought that I absolutely love. You can check them out alongside other select tracks @
1.) Aphex Twin: "Analogue Bubblebath (Dumb Dan Edit)"
People gonna bite me on this one, or at least I hope so 'cause I wanna hear this killer dance edit of an Aphex Twin classic everywhere I go.
2.) Yaz: "Situations (Hercules and Love Affair Club Mix)"
Raw almost punk vocals over the signature Yaz melody and classic piano house vibes. So good.
3.) Morgan Geist - "Detroit"
This dude is one of my biggest influences. His Unlassics series are some of the best dance records around..
4.) Black Devil Disco Club: "With Heavy Cream"
I love mystery and anonymity in music. No one knows if this dark space disco record was recorded recently or 28 years ago; timeless.
5.) Boy 8 Bit: "Suspense is Killing Me"
For years I never got into Mad Decent (Diplo's hyped label) until this year when Boy 8-Bit came out. So good!
How would you describe yourself in five words or less—complete sentence or not:
Crazy for my Baby Tim.
How do you describe the genre you play?
Electro, Techno, Disco, House, and New Wave—mostly songs heavy on melody and groove. I love to play shoegaze, ambient, indie rock and good experimental electronic records.
Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
DJ Copy and Linoleum are most up-to date these days with the best new jams mixed with tasteful oddities from the '70s and '80s. However, DJ Brokenwindow is my all-time favorite for his amazing mash-up skills and thorough knowledge of weird and older dance music and history.
DJ BJ spins next at Supernature, Saturday October 11th at Branx and on Monday, October 13th at Holocene with Nurses and Born Ruffians.