May 16th, 2008 | by NILINA MASON-CAMPBELL Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns, Columns, Columns

Hang the DJ: HR Paperstacks

     
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Picture 81Leigh Feldman, a.k.a. HR Paperstacks, has dazzled us before. No, not from his position behind the DJ decks at Hot Mess (where he surely does impress), but on LocalCut's Compilation of Love post, where he waxed poetic about a trip to Ireland and a girl just out of reach.

Now Stacks takes his fingers to the keyboard to clue us in on his move from New Orleans, make reference to DJ Wicked's installment of Hang the DJ, speak in depth about the influence of MP3 blogs and attempt to set the record for longest, most inclusive list of favorite Portland DJs.

How did you decide on your DJ name? What's your real name?
My DJ name in Portland is HR Paperstacks, which was taken from a TV show. One of the characters starts listing all of his Alias' .. 'aka Small Budget Baller aka HR Paperstacks aka Major Threat aka...' and I thought HR Paperstacks was pretty funny. My real name is Leigh, hence my radio DJ name of Leigh Majors (one of my radio co-workers would call me 'Big Brother Big Leigh' from the Big L song, so that stuck for a minute), but the more and more I think about it I should have kept Leigh Majors. It sort of sounds like the name of an adult actor, and that's what I am going for.

As the Rapture say, "People don't dance no more, they just stand there like this" - how often do you encounter this?
Rarely to never. Most of the parties I play are dance parties (Hot Mess what up!) so people come to get loose. Actually that's a lie, I play some happy hours and First Thursday events and those people don't dance. They are there to mingle. And eat free hors d'ouvers if provided.

Ideal crowd?
A room full of people that are so busy getting down that they walk out saying 'How long was I there dancing?!?' and wake up the next morning next to someone with their legs feeling sore.

How do you feel about requests?
I am mixed about them. I don't mind requests because I want to play what people want to hear, but I do have a problem with how and when most people make requests. If you lean across the table and start yelling at me to play track 'whatever whatever' while I am trying to mix in another song it's unlikely it will happen. Write down what you want to hear on paper or type it out on your cell and I'll try and read it when I can. My biggest problem with requests though is that people just ask for a song they want to hear and pay no attention to what is happening regarding the flow or tempo of the music and party. If you want to make a request please take into account BPM and genre of the track. Lil Wayne's "Lollipop" does not mix with everything. I know you love it more than your fake tan, but some tracks I just can't get to in the course of an evening.

Do you have a story about a particular request or requester?
I like, totally heard, that like, a DJ in town gave this girl a bloody nose for making a request. That to me is pretty funny. Not the bloody nose part, but that people would think that was true... Recently a girl handed me a drink with a song name written on a napkin. That is a solid way to ensure that I will play your track. The last funny request I heard was a friend of mine ordering body shots of Malibu and Ovaltine at a bar while lifting his shirt up. The girl he was next to didn't think it was funny - that made it even more awesome to me.

Do you DJ full time? / What do you do outside of DJing?
I don't. I work for a music marketing company called SPECTRE, so I get access to a lot of music before anyone else and I get the privilege of talking to DJs from all around the world about what songs they are liking, mixing, playing and receiving solid responses to. I also hate the fact that I just ended that sentence with the word 'to.'

How do you think your jobs adds to your role as a DJ?
Immeasurably. It exposes me to new music daily and to new people that are constantly trying to find the next track that will make people go crazy. It also allows me to go to countless shows to study the responses of people out and about in certain settings. If you go out in this city regularly to observe specific crowds in specific settings you'll get a pretty good idea of what tracks will go over well in one place but not in another.

How much does your reading blogs all day affect your playlist?
A lot and a little. Reading blogs gives me access to new tracks and new ideas of transitioning from song to song, but there is a ton of garbage out there you have to sift through to find a gem that can keep up with classic party tracks - those tracks that come on and no matter where and when you start dancing. I like to play sets filled with those.

Where can we find you?
In the hot tub, poppin' bubbly, in the spot love screaming punish me... or you can catch me at Hot Mess (Tube First Friday's), Snap! (Holocene - specific dates), RA After Hours (specific dates), Someday Lounge (specific dates) and various happy hours, dance parties, art openings and fun events around Portland.

How'd you get your current main gig?
Made something where there was nothing. Started a night for a niche group and worked to make it grow. We started with one magical evening of Hot Mess and Tube thankfully gave us a chance to keep on playing music to help people make mistakes.

How long have you been spinning?
I'll say six years - but with each new piece of equipment/effect/program that comes out I feel like I just started. I began with mixtapes, moved to parties, transitioned to radio, and am doing parties again, while working to get back into mixtapes.

What drew you to DJing originally?

As a kid in Colorado I would listen to the commercial hip hop station and they would play a remix of LL Cool J's 'Mama Said Knock You Out' that was sped up and included the horns from Rick James's 'Give It To Me Baby.' I loved the one part of the LL remix where the sample of the RJ track came in and I would record and copy that one snippet onto tape over and over to make it into an extended break. Once I learned that with doubles of a track you could literally keep playing one section of a song over and over - especially the section that you loved the best - I was hooked.

How long have you been in Portland?
On and off for a while, but I have been back thanks to the lovely Hurricane Katrina for a little over two years and I am loving every sunshine filled day. So like, ninety days out of the year I love. The rest I like a whole lot.

What are your thoughts on vinyl vs CDs vs laptops?
If you can do what you do well than by all means do it. I use all three when I play... I respect vinyl DJs immensely, especially because you need to know your tracks well. DJing with CDs is similar to DJing with records on the technical end (obviously not with sound - analog vs digital, but the same when it comes to beat matching and transitioning), but as far as having a time readout when tracks are ending and the ability to skip to another song, CDs make it far easier to know what is happening - laptops even more so. I hold laptop DJs to a higher standard, which may be unfair, but I think that is because I have seen what people can do with certain DJ programs that absolutely blow my mind. There are some people I have had the pleasure of playing with/see play that use their computers to do things that you can't do with records or CDs. It may be unfair to judge laptop DJs more harshly, but if you are using a computer program to DJ and not really using it to it's full capability it's like using your computer to only talk on IM - why not use all the functions you have at your disposal?.. I completely understand DJs that see an advantage in laptops and load all their tracks on a comp so they have all of their music at their disposal, don't have to carry/travel with their crates or worry about records being stolen/scratched/warped or whatnot and can play anything they want immediately much faster and easier. I also completely understand the anger of shopping and digging to find something in limited vinyl form and playing it out only to have someone else go and buy it later as an mp3. In the end I don't really care what you use as long as you do what you do well. There are people in Portland that use tapes to DJ and they play far cleaner and a kill a party better than some people I have heard on computer/CD/vinyl. It's your ability to hear/mix songs, read a crowd and work your equipment that make you a good DJ.

What songs will we find ourselves dancing to with you?
Bel Biv Devoe - "Poison"
Michael Jackson - "PYT (Marquis Remix)"
Metro Area - "Muira (Calabria Edit)"
Eurythmics - "Sweet Dreams (Percolator Remix)"
Stardust - "Music Sounds Better With You"

How would you describe yourself in five words or less - complete sentence or not:
Really Enjoying Life Right Now or: Extremely Excited About The Future

How do you describe the genre you play?
Party Time! Excellent!

Who are your other favorite Portland DJs?
This will be a ridiculous list and there are a ton in this town that have made me wiggle ... Hoop Dreams, DJ Santo, DJ Kez, Dun Diggy, Othertempo, Beyonda, Linoleum, Nathan Detroit, Ninja, DJ Rad, DJ Solomon, Matt Nelkin, Rev. Shines, Melo C, Ohmega Watts, DJ Izm, Verbz, Demetrie Bacca, Kid Shiloh, Nealie Neal, Hannuka Miracle, Pretty Please, Freaky Outy, Drew, Jenkins, Cory, Gray, Colin Jones, Mr. MuMu, Kenoy, Juggernaut, Lamborghini, Girlfriends, Joee Irwin, Prins Bonaparte, Evil One, DJ Sneakers, DJ Wicked, Queasy, Maxamillion, Lady Adie, Flip Flop, Seoul Brother, Dmoe Funk, Nature, Reckless, Jimbo, Computer Pham, Gen.Erik, Mercedes, After Dark DJ's, Assemble the Empire, Koolaid, Pocket Rockit, Patricia Furpurse, Tre Slim, Jack, OG 1, Hostile Tapeover, Disciple, Wells, Ronin Roc, Evan Alexander, Pipe Dream, Kellan, Sasha, Matt, Equestrian, A-Trane, Quirky, Philip Sherburne, Copy, E3, Anjali, The Incredible Kid and you! Yes you, because chances are good that you are reading this because you know me and if I forgot you I am sorry, plus, chances are good that if you live in Portland you are a DJ. So yes, you are also my favorite DJ. And if I have been out and you got me out of my seat and made me just do a little wiggle, you are also my favorite DJ because you probably made that night better for me.

Anything else we should know about you?
I love that Portland is growing and I hope we can all work together to make things bigger and better. Lots of people have great ideas on cool events - find me - let's make them happen. This city is about to explode, but maybe that's just because this is day one of ninety for complete sunshine. I see awesome things happening here in the future. I'm really enjoying life right now and I'm extremely excited about the future.

Links:
Leigh FeldmanSpace
Hot Mess WW Feature
Hot MessSpace

Photo by Nilina Mason-Campbell
 
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