August 15th, 2008 5:33 pm | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: DJ Mani

DJ Mani If only all my youth weren't locked up in a U-Haul storage unit. If I had access to the boxes of photographs stored there, I could pull out nearly any of my class pictures from Edwards Elementary and point out Ernae Windham to you. Why would that matter in the case of a Hang the DJ post? Well, Portland is really small—as MySpace constantly reminds me— especially when the DJ profile of that former classmate of mine pops up in the form of DJ Mani. Since I don't have the photos, take it from me: there was a lot of plaid.

DJ Mani's been on the decks for less than a year and has already scored herself some prime regular gigs at Bar XV and the Chesterfield. Seemingly our first DJ to mention Spun Academy, DJ Mani gets grilled on the school along with strip clubs meet-and-greets and future plans. I remember her holding membership in a young stock-holders club with two other classmates during fourth grade, so it makes all the sense in the world that she's going back to school in pursuit of something business related. Still, it's all about the spinning when it comes to DJ Mani, which you'll glean from any one of her answers.

How did you decide on your DJ name? What's your real name?
I'd say it was more or less decided for me. Partying with some friends one night, 4 shots of Stoli and a half rack of Widmer Hefe later, I was definitely done for the night. I posted up on my friend's couch and struck a pose. I guess I was sitting like that for awhile, because next thing I know they're laughing, comparing me to a mannequin. I haven't lived it down ever since, so they shortened it to Mani. My real name is Ernae, which is a lot harder for people to say.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Not so much. Definitely get a lot of head-nodding and two-stepping going on, but I play dance tracks. I dare you to restrain yourself.

Ideal crowd?
Ready to party and feeling it. Maybe a tad tipsy as well. I love the brave few that will just get buckwild when they hear a track they like. I especially like folks that come ask me where I get my tracks.

How do you feel about requests?
Don't talk to me if my hand is on the wax and the fader. But if I have it, I'll play it.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
I was playing a set for a snowboarding event at Mt. Hood Meadows, all electro and breaks. This lady from one of the sponsor tents for some reason really thought "Pour Some Sugar On Me" would be a great addition to the mix, despite repeating numerous times that I didn't have it. But I wouldn't have played it anyway.

Do you DJ full time? / What do you do outside of DJing?
No, but I want to. I just left my shipping and receiving day job for a much-needed vacay. Planning on going back to school in the fall to continue business administration and marketing.

Where can we find you?
Bar XV for Booty Call every other Wednesday. Chesterfield for last Thursdays, here and there throughout the month. Fusion Lounge on occasion. Any other place that asks me to spin. I tend to club hop a lot, hitting any and every kind of party in town, wherever the wind takes me.

How'd you get your current main gig?
I stopped by the Lucky Devil to have a drink with Kenoy, ended up a couple drinks deep and killing in blackjack. Next thing I know, Kenoy is grabbing me and introducing me to one of the owners of Bar XV, who wanted to start an electro night. We talk music for a minute, and Booty Call is born. I always meet the coolest people in strip clubs.

[As for Chesterfield, I was] hooked up initially through Spun Academy, of which I am a student. But I like to think my song selection sealed the deal.

How did you get introduced to Spun academy? A flier, etc..?
The wonders of MySpace. I'd seen it in a few DJs' top friends, clicked on the page. A couple weeks later, I ended up checking out a tour of the school. Started classes a week later.

Had you already wanted to become a DJ at the time?
I've wanted to DJ since I was a kid. Spinderella was my first real exposure to the art. I wanted to be that cool too.

What drew you to DJing originally?
I've been a band nerd since elementary school—started playing trumpet in third grade, picked up French horn in high school. Spent my summers at band camp, and proud of it. Besides that, I've been making mixtapes for as long as I can remember, trying to force new tracks on my friends and family. Grew up on my mom's R&B/funk vinyl collection. Always collected tapes, then started getting CDs. Whenever I was invited to a party, it was mostly because I'd bring all my music. I've been a connoisseur of all things music since birth, it was just meant to be.

How long have you been spinning?
I'm very new to the game... Let's just say less than a year.

How soon after you started spinning did you start booking gigs?
I'd been playing for about 4 months when I first played out.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
I love the sound of vinyl, there's nothing like it. But it's hard to find a lot of the tracks I want to play, even on CD. I'm totally a laptop DJ, but much respect to a decent all vinyl set.

As a laptop DJ, I take it you use Serato since you mention your hand being on the wax and the fader.
Yup, love Serato. I'm just starting to really learn to how to utilize it well in a set.

What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
1. American Boy (Kill the Noise Remix) - Estelle feat. Kanye West
2. Are You Done Gun (Nick Jones & Zane Spence Booty Mix) - Boys Noize vs. M.I.A.
3. Dirty & Hard - DJ Edjotronik & Spoek
4. Cross the Dancefloor - Treasure Fingers
5. I'm Freaky (Romeo Erotic Remix) - O'Bryan

What do you think of Estelle touring with Gym Class Heroes?

Dope. Love them both. Been a fan of GCH for awhile, newly in love with Estelle. "Shine" is my ringtone.

How would you describe yourself in five words or less - complete sentence or not:
Always looking for new sounds.

How do you describe the genre you play?
Anything danceable, with a sexy bassline. A lot of electro, hip-hop remixes, dnb, breaks, whatever sounds good at the moment.

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
In no particular order: DJ Kenoy, Lady Adie, Jon Gordon, DJ Nature, Rev. Shines, DJ Flip Flop, Beyonda, Clint Kuper, Zita

DJ ManiSpace

Photo courtesy of DJ Mani
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