Several months ago, I was asked to cover an event for another publication. This event featured local DJs at an underground / non-descript location.
At first, I was a little hesistant in being shuttled to an unknown location but was later put to ease as I was joined by other attendees on the same shuttle ride. This made shuttle ride a lot less quiet and daunting. (If I remember correctly, the shuttle driver was playing 'Tower of Power' on the vehicles sound system)
Upon arrival, the venue had a waiting line outside and security was monitoring the head count quite closely. You could hear the music pulsating, you could see the flashing lights and the shadows of people dancing through the windows. Anticipation began to mount as I waited for my turn to enter.
In entering the crowded establishment, I tried to quickly orientated myself with the layout of the venue and the obtain the line up of the DJs that have yet to play but I was distracted by all the photo opportunities of the event and people who were attending this event.
Among the performing musical talent that night, there were a few names that I recognized. Names that I had heard of and names that I have seen once or twice before. Of these names, Dirty Beats was one of those names. That night, Dirty Beats served up a raw and 'dirty' sound that gave you the opportunity to get lost in the music and allowed you to forget about your present situation and just dance the night away.
Since then, I had been able to catch a few more Dirty Beats sets at other venues..and each time, being more impressed with presentation and flow.
It wasn't til recently that I had the opportunity to chat with Dirty Beats.
CJ Storm: I realize the you are on your way to an event in Humbolt County. I do thank you for taking the time to meet with me and chat.
How did you get involved in this style of electronic music?
DirtyBeats: Electronic music? I'd say that my mom got me into electronic music when I was 9 years old. She was friends with a lot of the old house DJs in the Bay Area.
Around '88 or '89, she used to take me to a lot of outdoor festivals in Santa Cruz.
In the 80's, most of the time, you'd hear either soul or rock 'n roll on the radio. I always liked weird music and it happened to be house music...it was definitely out there for its time.
We moved to Colorado when I was in high school and she (DB's mom) had some friend who were DJs there. We'd go over to their house every Sunday and they'd do a live internet broadcast. This was around '95. It was probably one of the first times that I'd even heard about Internet Broadcast for DJs. Those guys were all producers...their whole house was one large studio...music equipment everywhere. That's all they did. If they weren't at work, they'd be doing that or playing at 'electronic dance music' events. My mom talked to them, 'Oh, you should teach him.'...and I was really interested. Even when she couldn't do out, I'd take the bus there and make sure I was watching what they were doing on Sunday.
CJ Storm: ...so you actually learn on vinyl. Do you still spin vinyl?
DirtBeats: I'll play vinyl if I can. Spent hours digging through records crates and only gotten rid of one record, even if it was warped or messed up...I won't get rid of it.
CJ Storm: How was the transition into the digital age? Was is something that you wanted embrace or was there some kind of resistance to it?
DirtyBeats: A little bit of both. I was a little bit resist cause it seemed just too simple. Too many of the 'elitists' are just like, 'just vinyl, just vinyl'...and walking around with a 100lbs of records. I switched directly to Serato, which all you have to have is a laptop and maybe a drive with some music...and its still nice that you can manipulate the record just like vinyl. .mp3 or .wav doesn't have the same kinda sound. Vinyl has the warm analog sound.
I played up in Berkeley, they said that we're going to have turntables. They said, 'It'll be great if you could play an old drum and bass vinyl set'. [At the time], I was up north and I brought back a whole bunch of my vinyl. I spent two days digging through, thinking, 'okay, I'm going to play this, I'm going to play this.' The night of, I was thinking, 'just in case I should bring my Serato' and I'm glad I did because they ended up not have turntables, they just had CDJs. You gotta kinda adapt...(to the environment and situation)
CJ Storm: How long have you been play to the crowds?
DirtyBeats: About 16 years.
CJ Storm: Do you remember how you felt when you first played?
Dirtybeats: Kinda nervous...I'd say that I get more nervous now than back then.
It started out with just small house parties and kinda worked up.
Then there was a park lot 'electronic dance music' event in Boulder, Colorado.
CJStorm: Parking Lot?
DirtyBeats: Yeah, they would rent out a parking lot, outside of a mall and just kinda set up like a circus tent kinda thing. [They] had a big sound system outside. They (the police) shut it down. A whole bunch of people left. Once the cops left, [organizers asked] if anybody had any music that they'd like to play...'we're going to try to get people back here'. It ended up going the rest of the night. That was kinda like my first party [I] ever played.
CJStorm: Do you also play musical instruments?
DirtyBeats: Yeah. I grew up playing bass guitar in high school. Drums for about a year in high school. [When I was] really young...the school I went to, you had to take violin. Did that for about a year. I still have a violin. I just use it for sampling. Making up random notes. Other than learning how to play in 4th grade, I never really learn how to read notes. Middle school, I played flute for a year.
I have a didgerido that I still sample. My mom did some traveling to Australia and brought back a really nice, hand carved didgerido. Can't really do the circular breathing...[but] I can get the sound. I've been trying for years.
CJStorm: Do you see yourself more as a producer or musician or entertainer?
DirtyBeats: All of the above. Only time there I played a whole set of my own tracks was a small event, like an art event. For larger events, I'll play other peoples stuff, different producers. I'll throw in a track or two of my own stuff.
CJStorm: How'd you react when your playing your own track to the crowd?
DirtyBeats: That's one thing that I'm nervous about. How people are going to react to my own music. Not just mixing and DJing other people's music. Some artist with a huge ego [say], 'my music is so great'. You have to passive about it. I am definitely self conscious about it. Even when I'm sitting at home or in the studio making something... if I love it then I'll play it out but then seeing how other people like it...its definitely a plus when you see other people liking it.
CJStorm: How long do you sit in front of the computer or turntables for production?
DirtyBeats: Just a few days ago, I just spent two days straight just working on something. Its like, I have to walk outside, I haven't seen daylight in two days...I have to go eat something. Just kinda get too sucked into it. Which is good...but you know...it effects everything. If you're not eating right, if you're not sleeping...it effects your thinking, it effects your hearing.
CJStorm: Do you have any advice for up and coming producer or DJ trying to making a name in the 'electronic dance music' scene?
DirtyBeats: Just make what you like making. I'll make some really weird shit that I would never play out or just make weird noises...even if it doesn't make sense.
Every producer, I think can of, has been over analytical of themselves. When you make something, send it out, get other people's opinion.
CJStorm: How can people find out more about you?
DirtyBeats: I've got quite a few. I blast myself out there for marketing. My web page is: www.TheDirtyBeats.com. I have all my links there, to SoundCloud, to FaceBook, my music page on FB...which is a new one that I just re-set up (I've taken down my old one). Everything is connected there. You can also find me at: FaceBook.com/GrimStylesEntertainment. Also through Surface Lights Entertainment. We're kinda like sister companies now. Everything we do now, we do together.
CJStorm: Any parting words for anyone who maybe reading this article?
DirtyBeats: Thank you for reading this and giving me the time of day.
CJStorm: Thank you again for sitting down with me for this little chat.