This week's Hang the DJ gets metal, what with tour booker (and freelance WW
music scribe) Nathan Carson stepping in the booth to shed light on his life as DJ Nate C. In addition to his two weekly gigs (housed at Tube and Rotture), he has a handful of spare spin dates here and there each month mostly catering to metalheads amongst us. He talks about that specific concept—a metal DJ—while letting us know he'll play almost anything if booked for it. Anything except electronic and hip-hip music, that is.
In this Q&A we find out what affect being a booker by day has on his life as as a DJ, how his elementary school-esque DJ name evolved and how the onslaught of CDs helped him amass his vinyl collection.
How did you decide on your DJ name?
Well, I thought about coming up with something really clever (which usually means a geeky science fiction reference of some sort to me), but the fact is I have been playing live music around this town for years. So I didn't really want to create confusion or start entirely from scratch. Since there seem to be quite a few Nate's here, I went with Nate C because it is clear, honest, easy to spell and remember. And hey--that's who I am!
As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there
like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Most of the time. But I don't generally spin dance music. You'd be surprised though. At times, there are folks who will dance to literally anything you play. I had these two 21 year old girls in the Tube one time that were dancing to Morbid Angel. They begged me for a real "hit", so I played "Jump" by Van Halen. They sat down, disappointed. Apparently they'd never heard the song and it probably sounded really archaic to them, haha. There are quite a few nights when I'll switch into 80s mode just to keep people happy though. It's fun, and that's music I grew up on.
Nice folks who throw the devil horns when I sing falsettos along with Judas Priest. People who don't request hip-hop while I'm spinning rock. People who don't offer to buy me drinks when I'm getting them for free. Just relax and have fun people! I do like it when people check out the record I'm playing with intent to learn more about good music.
How do you feel about requests?
I love to fill appropriate requests, provided I can work them into my flow. What I don't like is when I'm playing Sabbath, and they ask for Pantera or Marlyin Manson. Or the other day in Longview, WA when I was spinning "Love Buzz" and this drunk douchebag came up and requested some Nirvana. I'm like "this IS Nirvana".
How often do you DJ? What do you do outside of DJing?
I have 2 weekly gigs here in town. Mondays at Tube, and every Sunday "The Sabbath" at Rotture. Beyond that, I tend to do a few extra gigs every month. I've done a Vice party in Brooklyn, an art gallery in SF, Porky's in Longview, Upper Playground on 1st Thursday, and a birthday party at CC Slaughters. As long as I'm not expected to play electronic dance or hip-hop, I am a pretty flexible guy.
Outside of the DJ gigs, I book tours for 20 national acts, play in the Better To See You With, write for several music magazines, and do freelance computer animation. I also bake cookies.
Where can we find you?
I live on the north side of Mt Tabor, but I mostly haunt old town.
How do you get your DJ gigs? Do you find being a booker helps in that arena? How so?
It's all word of mouth. The gig in Longview I got because a guy who used to book my band in Phoenix, AZ moved up to WA recently. It's always about "who you know," and I am fortunate to have been in the music scene for a long, long time. Hence, I know a lot of folks. Still, I think the idea of a "Metal DJ," (especially one with flow) is a relatively new idea. I don't think I've fully explored all the times and places I could be spinning. I aspire to.
As a booker, how often do you book DJs?
I almost only book a DJ besides myself if I need a substitute for one of my gigs. I primarily book live music.
How long have you been spinning?
Well, I have been cornering friends and saying "you have to listen to this record!" my whole life. But I initially did a "metal night" along with the wonderful David Chandler back in 2003 or 2004. He showed me how to use a mixer that night, and it's all been downhill from there. After that I started to substitute for Maxamillion at the old bowling alley on Morrison, had a monthly at Dunes for a while, and then eventually settled into my Monday night spot at Tube.
What drew you to DJing originally?
It was mostly based on having the records. I was fortunate to be in high school in a college town in the late 80s when all the stores were blowing out their vinyl to make shelf space for cds. Since I had a part-time job at the library (nerd!), I had little to spend my money on. And for $3 a pop, there was every single Iron Maiden record, every Sabbath, every Slayer, every Voivod. I had a comic collector mentality and wanted to have everything I liked on hand. I'm not like that so much anymore, but very glad I grabbed these when they were cheap. I'm even more glad that they're actually getting used and loved now.
What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDS vs laptops?
I don't have super strong opinions either way, but I do generally prefer vinyl since I grew up with it. Also, since there are plenty of snobs in this town who do care, I just bring records. I have so many of them, it's never an issue to stay purist.
What songs will we find ourselves listening to with you?
1) Scorpions - "Drifting Sun"
2) Blue Oyster Cult - "Career of Evil"
3) Rush - "Subdivisions"
4) Slayer - "South of Heaven"
5) Jackson 5 - "Can You Feel It"
How would you describe yourself in five words or less - complete sentence or not:
Headbanger Art-Fag. (I came up with this in high school. It still applies.)
How do you describe the genre you play?
Rock, metal, and more. I can do indie, psych, and 80s too.
Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
Nikki from Tube is the undisputed champion though I wish she spun more often. Otherwise, Brux Blackhawk, DJ Wroid Wrage, Manny Lennox, Paul Dickow and David Chandler, Maxamillion, etc.
Photo care of Carson.