September 26th, 2008 | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: DJ Monkeytek

     
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dj Slightly evasive when it comes to the origin of his DJ name and unwilling to disclose his real name, DJ Monkeytek keeps a mysterious profile. Guess you'll just have to hunt him down behind the decks to find out his true identity. Luckily you'll find out some info, such as just where he spins (maybe to help with your detective activities), in this here column. He also clues us into his work with LoDubs Records—which got featured in the Portland issue of XLR8R on page 66. The local label makes a go of it producing primarily 12" releases; that means no digital sales whatsoever. What else will you find out? Take a look below and see:

How did you decide on your DJ name?
Well, the name sorta happened through a series of happy accidents and collisions.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Rarely.

Any surefire hits that make it so it's rare?
The music I play cant be described as "hits"—at least in the traditional sense of the word. People come to Various because they like bass music played on a proper soundsystem. We employ the mighty H.A.S sound system every month to ensure proper sound quality. People respond to the bass and to the tunes they are feeling, shouting out when a tune drops particularly heavily. The soundsystem really lets you know the full depth of a tune. It's crazy.

Ideal crowd?
Open minded, playful, serious, into heavy bass and good vibes.

How do you feel about requests?
Ticklish.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
Not really. For the most part, the people who come to Various know the score and don't embarrass themselves. Of course, from time to time the odd blonde will ramble in from the west and ask for some rap music or some shit.

Do you DJ full time? / What do you do outside of DJing?
Yes and no. I work on our label LoDubs Records finding tunes to release on 12" and our night Various (at Branx every first Saturday). Also, gardening and hanging out with my dog Jojo and my friends.

You say "our." Who are your partners in crime? How did you come initially together for Various?
I run the Various night monthly at Branx alongside Ryan Organ. We started Various in December 2006 so we'd have a night to gather with friends and play the music we want. It has since grown into a night of massively bass-heavy music. The subtitle for the night is "Dubstep, Jungle, Dub & Ruckus." This sums up the kinds of music we play. Dubstep is the primary form of music featured at Various.

Lo Dubs Records is run by Jon A.D. I work with him to find tunes to release on 12" records. We don't do digital distribution, only 12". Our aim is to release music by people pushing dubstep forward. We have releases by Starkey (Philly), 6Blocc (LA), XI (Canada), Bombaman (Canada), DZ (Canada) and most recently Pacheko (Venezuela).

Where can we find you?
Branx, Holocene, San Francisco, Seattle.

How'd you get your current main gig?
Through a series of thoughts and actions.

What thoughts and actions? Did you already know someone at the club? Was it there before Conrad took over booking the venue?
Well, we are friends with the people who do Kulturszene at Branx and they helped us get our Branx residency. This was before Conrad was involved. We have since worked with Conrad on a few high profile bookings such as Kode9, who is a massive influence on me.

How long have you been spinning?
Since 1996.

What drew you to DJing originally?
I like to combine things and see what happens. Even now, what makes me happiest is when two songs interact in that way... like "boom!," then I know I did something well.

You like to combine things and see what happens? Does this apply to chemistry, too?
Pardon? Ah, well... DJing is chemistry, certainly! A lot pf people seem to play track to track without any overall journey. At the end of the day, a DJ should bring something interesting in the transitions between tunes, making them interact and work off each other. Timing is also essential. You can't just get up there and hammer out gnarly tunes the whole time.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs. CDs vs. laptops?
I prefer records. I think music—especially dance music—is meant to be properly mastered and prepared for 12" vinyl. I'd rather not hear some awful sounding unmastered mp3 some guy grabbed for free off the internet.

I don't DJ off laptops. I really hate seeing laptops in the dancehall. I play a lot of unreleased tunes and I cut dubplates as much as I can. I also use CDs.

What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
XI - Glass- dubplate
Unknown - Cuss Cuss- whitelabel
DZ- Chalice V.I.P. - Lo Dubs dubplate
Skream- Dub4 - dub
Sully- Broadway G - 12"

How would you describe yourself in five words or less—complete sentence or not:
I like to have fun.

How do you describe the genre you play?
Bass-heavy, like 140 bpm, fun! Dub for the dancefloor.

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
E3, Ryan Organ, Mecca, The Bassist, Realiez.

Links:
DJ MonkeytekSpace
LoDub RecordsSpace
PDXinDub

Photo courtesy of DJ Monkeytek
 
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