How did you get your start as a deejay? I’ve always been into to music and have listened to my parents records and tapes since I was young. It wasn’t until high school that I started really collecting music and digging for new, underground sounds. I put out some hip hop mix tapes my senior year of high school, but I didn’t begin to actually DJ until college. I started doing radio for WZRD Chicago 88.3 FM in 2001, where they have been collecting music since 1974. There I served as Promotions Director, Producer of the weekly show Thursday Night Live featuring local and international acts, and Program Director until about 2008. During that time I began to DJ house parties, moving on to bars & clubs after that while still staying active in the underground party scene. I started getting picked up to do much larger concerts around that time as well as some Midwest gigs outside of Chicago.
What genres do you consider to be your specialty and how has that evolved? Everyone has their own favorites in the DJ community and I prefer to focus on the foundations, and the international influence House Music has had for decades now. Disco, Acid, Electro, Chicago House Music. I like Glitch House and the Afro-Cuban sound, including Brazilian Baile Funk. I was a backpacker Hip Hop head in the 90’s and a long-haired Metal head before that, both of which I still love and play out at any opportunity. Its all about reading your crowd, but at the same time I love to play music I don’t hear anyone else dropping, and more times than not, once I’ve heard a track slip into someone else’s set I tend to move it out of my own. Learning the essence of Free Form music and DJing at WZRD played a big part in honing my tastes as well.
How do you prepare for a performance? I like to dig around online or go record shopping for some new music or classic cuts, something to throw in that is just hitting the decks of DJs around the country. Depending on what kind of DJ equipment I’ll be using I will run through my set or simply organize a crate of records. More so if it’s going to be an all vinyl night. I like to bring an ample amount of music just in case something happens. If the dance floor needs a different flavor I can switch it up and still stay within my own tastes.
What is your most memorable performance? I enjoy making people dance at every occasion. The weddings I’ve done with Cage and Aquarium both on and off the decks have been fantastic and I love seeing everyone celebrate such an incredible bond. But I think my most memorable performance has to be this past Summer’s Green Music Festival, focusing on eco-friendly food, drinks, and technology. It was full of families, artists, musicians, and neighbors of the West Town community. My DJ set was just before nightfall and the festival drew so many people out, including kids and adults of all ages. It was great to have them all out there dancing together.
What kinds of community organizations do you take part in? Recently I was guest DJ at the Tree House Humane Society’s Catwalk, a hair design fashion show benefitting Tree House, Chicago’s no-kill animal shelter. The 2010 Catwalk was their 3rd and most successful to date and featured designs from area salons competing for best design and best presentation.
What are your hobbies? When I’ve got some free time I like to go skateboarding, work on art, or just walk around Chicago’s neighborhoods looking for old buildings, graffiti, and other kinds of street art. I love this city and both the people and places here are perfect for creativity.
If you weren’t a DJ, what would you be doing instead? As I’ve said, I Love Music. If I wasn’t a DJ I would still be involved in music some way. I’ve been playing guitar since I was 13, and I love Circuit Bending. I re-wire children’s toys into new musical instruments, their analog sound perfect for creating samples and beats for use in your own pieces of music. I’ve taught and assisted in Circuit Bending classes throughout Chicago and the midwest, including the MCA, the School of The Art Institue of Chicago, DePaul, and The Illinois Institute of Technology. I have to thank Patrick McCarthy, Tom Stephenson, Dan Layne, and Antoine Kattar for all their help in teaching me how to make incredible electronic music while creating art from someone else’s junk.
Do you have any upcoming shows besides your gig in New York that you want to promote here? On Halloween I’ll be DJing at The Abbey for the Ghostface Killah concert as well as an after party at Betty’s Blue Star Lounge. On November 19th you can hear me on Vocalo.org and 89.5 FM doing a guest DJ set from 8-9:00 PM CST. I also have a monthly residency at Subterranean for The Grind presented by the Chicago clothing label, Novem, on Saturday, November 20th. You can also find out about upcoming events, music, and videos on my blog at http://djdemchuk.blogspot.com