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How to be a local DJ: Interview with Indianapolis radio DJ Rudy Kizer

Live DJ Mixing from Rudy Kizer
Live DJ Mixing from Rudy Kizer
John Rapp

Rudy Kizer is the host of "Hit the Decks," a weekly radio show broadcast sundays on X103. Every Sunday night, Rudy spins various electronic, drum & bass, trance and dance music over the local airwaves. The show is also available in the UK on the CreateRadio website, which is frequently inaccessible for some reason. Here's a super-cool interview I did with Mr. Kizer where he talks about the local DJ scene and how to get involved in the party.

You have a part of your show called the Drum 'n Bass Rinse, and I like that. Can you write a short laundry list of steps for a local Indianapolis kid to take in order to go from slack-jawed yokel to a real-life DJ like yourself? Please add the phrase, "rinse and repeat" to the end of the instructions, to keep up with the laundry theme.

Rudy Kizer says: I'm no genius at this stuff, and a lot of it was "right-place-right-time" and luck, but these are the things that I think helped, at a bare minimum, start my DJ career.

1. Commit to doing it - I've been babying the radio show project for the better part of twenty five years, which leads to...

2. Don't give up - stay true to your own vision.

3. Have a plan - focus on reaching the goals you set in that plan.

4. Listen to a LOT of music - even genres that you don't play.

5. Practice practice practice - there are a lot of DJs out there who don't take the craft and skills (beat-matching, blending, cutting/scratching) seriously. Master the basic skills. I learned to mix on absolute CRAP gear (Radio Shack mixer, belt-drive turntables), but that made the transition to the professional-level gear that much easier, and I sounded a lot more polished.

6. Play out as much as you can - not only is it fun, but you learn to perform under the pressure of "live in front of an audience" as well as read a dance floor to put together your sets on the fly.

7. Be your biggest fan and promote yourself. Your demo mix CD is like your business card, so get it out there and make it happen.

8. Network with other DJs and promoters, and don't burn bridges. Those you pass on the way up will be there on your way down.

9. Go see live shows - Djs, bands, whatever. You'll know good showmanship when you see it, and try to "borrow" the bits you like.

10. Lather, rinse, repeat.

You have said that dance music is "more than just hip-hop on the radio." What else is there going on deep within dance music that some people may miss the first time around?

Rudy Kizer says: Hip hop has had an amazing twenty five year run, but hip hop has entered the "corporate rock" phase of its existence, and listeners are starting to get bored. With commercial hip hop starting to stagnate, you hear the influence of underground dance music on pop radio more and more every day. Ne-Yo, Usher, Pitbull, Rihanna - the list goes on and on of artists that have tapped the underground to make their sound fresh again. Dubstep is a really hot trend right now, and you can connect the dots between drum and bass, dubstep, and southern hip hop without too much effort. So many dubstep artists are playing jam-band type festivals, they're getting a lot of great exposure and doing a great job of taking that sound to the masses. Hell, Rusko is producing tracks on the new Britney Spears album, if that gives you any indication. Pitbull has made a career off of re-purposing dance music classics (Bucketheads' "The Bomb," Nightcrawlers' "Push The Feeling On"). Lady GaGa may end up ruling the world if she starts working with more polished producers. I'm always amazed at the remix packages for the mainstream pop artists - working with the best dance music producers in the world and putting out music that's NOTHING like the original versions that get heavy-rotation air play.

My friends from New Jersey say they have ever seen the letters "DJ" and the word "Indianapolis" arranged closely in a communication form such as the written word. For the uninitiated, where do you go to get into the DJ scene here in Indianapolis?

Rudy Kizer says: Things were pretty sparse there for a while, but the dance music scene is starting to percolate a little bit. TRU Nightclub in Broad Ripple has done some quality events, the "Keepin' It Deep" events at BLU lounge downtown are always a good time. Juxtapoze at the Melody Inn on Tuesdays, and once-a-month parties like Let Go! party at the Lockerbie Pub and High Five at Locals Only are always good. The Mousetrap has a new broken beat and dubstep "Altered Thursdaze" party that promises to be a lot of fun. If you're into more of the open-format kind of sound, DJ Marcus at the Vogue has that on lock-down. So there's not only a lot going on, but something for every taste. That's really encouraging, and a testament to all the DJs and promoters who are driving the scene in Indy. The only disheartening thing is that there aren't many all-ages events where the under-21 crowd can experience a full-on underground dance event - that's one of the things I miss about the demise of the rave scene.

Where do you see the Indianapolis arts culture heading in general within the next five years?

Rudy Kizer says: We seem to be in a "up" cycle for edgier forms of art and entertainment, so hopefully that will sustain for a while. Underground music - be it rock, hip hop, dance music, or whatever - is starting to gain some steam in Indianapolis, and we are beginning to become a tour stop for up-and-coming music acts. The cats at MOKB have done a remarkable job of making Indianapolis visible to bands and acts that are out touring. Al in all, things look very bright and I'm excited to see where this all goes.

What's up with the podcast on I missed last week's show and I went to download the podcast and it isn't there.

Rudy Kizer says: I've had some clearance problems with some of the guest DJ sets because they're SO exclusive, and not permitted to be streamed. I'm getting to the back-log and weighing options for those shows. That being said, the shows with guest sets from Noisia and Elite Force will be posted soon.

Where are you spinning at next?

Rudy Kizer says: I'll be playing a couple of the Gen Con parties this weekend, and then my schedule is pretty open gig-wise. I'm proud - and a bit humbled, really - to have my show picked up by Armed Forces Networks recently. That should start in a couple of weeks. After that, I'll concentrate on broadcast radio syndication.


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