Q&A: Nadastrom!

One day you’re slowing down the tempo of Afrojack’s “Moombah Remix” so you don’t get the fur torn off of ya for playing music that’s too fast at your cousin’s skipping party and the next day you’re playing that very same style of music at some of the greatest venues in the world, spawning a whole new genre of music tailored for the dance floor.  So the story goes for Dave Nada and Matt Nordstrom of the DC-bred, LA-based DJ and production duo, Nadastrom, who have godfathered a brand new style of dance music – moombahton.

Groovin’ at a 108 bpm pace and inspired by reggaeton, Dutch House, and pure kismet, moombahton is rockin’ every dance floor from DC to London and everything in between.  What was once a “happy accident” now has countless producers demonstrating their take on the original sound of moombahton and exploring new sub genres, like smooth, sexy moombahsoul and the moombahton-dubstep hybrid, moombahcore.  Nadastrom even started their own moombahton record label, Diabluma Sound, which kicked off this year with fresh releases from Steve Starks, JWLS, and Boyfriend.  Because of all its success across the board, moombahton has become a destination event at major festivals and has sold out parties around the world, including its monthly Moombahton Massive celebration at the infamous U Street Music Hall in its homebase of DC.

Much like the curious hybrid that it is, moombahton is a family affair – it has a particular way of bringing people together and welcoming new party people and DJs alike to dance music with open arms.  From Dave Nada’s early days of edits, like “Riverside”, to Nadastrom’s official remixes, like Alex Clare’s “Too Close”, Dave and Matt have been guiding the moombahton missle straight to the top, with their original productions serving as the ultimate creative guidance.

But Nadastrom has been slaying the scene long before moombahton – since before I knew anything about anything.  I remember my first introduction to dance music in action was seeing them play Baltimore club, tech house, and everything else they could get their hands on at TaxLo parties here in Baltimore.  They have been the real deal since the first night I danced to their soundtrack and with a deep knowledge of how Baltimore really gets down (spoiler alert: down and fucking dirty), they rose to the top like the cream of the crop.  Enamored with their intuitive selections and the ease with which they control the floor, I’ve been following Nadastrom ever since.  So of course, years later and with a rack of parties stored neatly in my memory bank, I’m so pleased and honored to have interviewed Dave and Matt. It’s their unwavering passion for music, their free-spirits which make every performance a great time for everybody involved, and their constant demonstration of forward-thinking creativity and innovation that sets the standard of excellence in this game.

Cool Breezy:  We all know the story of how you accidentally created moombahton over three years ago and started releasing those classic edits like “Riverside” and “Moombahton”. Did you ever expect the genre to blow up the way that it has? What do you think of its evolution so far?

Dave Nada:  Nah, I really did not expect it at all.  I did, however, think the concept was cool and fun.  I saw it work first hand since the start, so I already knew it was something that would translate well in the club.  The evolution of it all is pretty crazy too!  It’s come a long way in just three years and now there’s a moombahton vibe that exists in music and club culture.  The production of the sound has gotten better as well.  I feel like it continues to refine itself and new influences are popping up from all over the world.

CB:  Since moombahton’s genesis, you have hosted successful Moombahton Massives in its mecca of DC and all around the world. Most recently, hosted a stage entirely dedicated to moombahton at Hard’s Day of the Dead festival in LA. Did you have any say in choosing the talent for the moombahton stage? Also, how does it make you feel to be the godfather of such a wildly successful movement?

DN:  Yup!  Me and my Moombahton Massive partners, Matt Nordstrom and Sabo, help curate the lineups for all of the Massives.  When we work with Hard, we combine our forces with them.  I feel like HARD are at the top of the game and they ALWAYS kill it with the lineups and tours for their events.  I feel humbled and grateful when it comes to moombahton and how far it’s come, from the artists to the music lovers around the world.  [I’m] very proud of what we’ve built with the Massives and the music.

CB:  I know first-hand how uniquely wild moombahton parties can get. I’m sure there are many memorable and unmemorable nights for you, but describe one of your favorites.

DN:  I’m biased here, but my favorite moment was at Moombahton Massive Thanksgiving 2011 when I proposed to my fiancé, Jen Lasher, in front of hundreds people at the end of her set!  Not only was the moombah fam there, but a lot of our relatives as well.  What a special night!

Matt Nordstrom:  Man…they are all pretty special.  It’s really hard to pick one, so I’m gonna say three.  The night we had Toddla T for the Two Year Anniversary of [U Street Music Hall]; the night we had Thee Mike B who said, with quite an epic resume of parties played, that that was one of the best gigs and parties he has ever done; and of course last thanksgiving when Dave purposed to Jen, which, for the record, NO ONE knew he was going to do.

CB:  Do you remember the first record you ever bought?

MN:  It was either “Thriller” by Michael Jackson or “Future Shock” by Herbie Hancock.

DN:  [The] first record I ever bought was Doug E. Fresh “Keep Risin’ To The Top” 12″ single.  B-side was “Guess Who”, which got me fired up every time I listened to it.  I also remember being mad confused as to why there was an acapella track and instrumental version.  I didn’t understand the DJ side of things at the time, haha.

CB: While you have embarked on an entirely new maginificent journey through moombahton, Nadastrom’s nights of spinning club music in Baltimore have still remained the stuff of legends. How have those past experiences influenced the way you feel about music in the present? Any chance we’ll hear some new Baltimore club sounds from you in the future?

DN:  They still influence us to this day.  As a matter of fact, we’ve been playing tons of Bmore and Bmore inspired club music in our sets lately.  We’re also getting a rep for playing longer sets these days, so this has given us more opportunities to play different styles in one night!

MN:  It definitely still influences us – the stripped back approach, the loops, and probably most important is the impact of a kick drum.  Pretty much sums up Nadastrom, haha!  We recently did a remix for our new label, Diabluma Sound, reworking Boyfriend’s “Vodka House” into a 130 club joint.  We have some more in the works as well but can’t really speak on them just yet.

CB:  This year you’ve greatly advanced moombahton through major events, impeccable productions, and even the launch of Nadastrom’s very own moombahton label, Diabluma Sound. So, what’s next?

MN:  We are currently working on our debut artist album, which is something we have toyed with in the past but got really serious about the past few months.

DN:  Yup, we think it’s about time now!

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #12: Phi Unit

phi unit


2 Bears & Toddla T – “Work” (Phi Unit ReWork) *Cool Breezy Exclusive*

As fresh as he is fancy (see above), New York’s Phi Unit is creating some of the most underrated yet entirely fantastic moombahton tracks in the game right now.  And not only is he producing totally rad moombahton tracks, but he’s also cranking out Baltimore club bangers, which obviously has a very special place on the dance floor of my heart.  Like the super-creeper that I am, I’ve been following Phi’s evolution in the dance music scene for over a year now and I’ve watched him take moombahton from an intense, hardcore rager to a tried-and-true make-out session soundtrack almost overnight.  If you like the sound of that, you’ll most definitely like what Phi’s cookin’ over here.

Phi Unit’s tracks are clean, relevant, and well-composed, making it all sound easy in a genre where everybody is still trying to get in where they fit in.  His breakout tune was a moombahton remix of a RAC remix of indie superband Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ “Home”.  Remix on remix on remix.  It sounds complicated, but Phi executed this perfectly.  “Home” was released in a time where we weren’t seeing too many remixes and edits of songs that were outside of the electronic dance music universe, so it really caught a lot of attention.  And I guess the fact that Dave Nada openly expressed his love for it didn’t hurt either.  It’s a gentle, but danceable, rendition of Edward Sharpe’s nostalgic indie tune, bursting with old school country vibes (dare I say of Johnny Cash/June Carter style) meets today’s new dance music trend.  Additionally, “Home” was a perfect foreshadowing to the niche Phi would create for himself within the moombahton genre.

Since “Home”, Phi has pioneered this particular pop and indie moombahton style – sensitive and romantic at times (but never cheesy) – that happily exists right on the cusp of moombahton’s peak-hour bangers.  There’s a little something for everyone here and Phi is totally owning the need for depth within the genre.  In fact, one of the most important releases of 2011 came when Phi Unit collaborated with fellow New Yorker, Cousin Cole, on the So Emotional EP.  Full of remixes and edits of fringe artists (well, at least in the moombahton world) such as James Blake, Foster the People, and Fleet Foxes, So Emotional solidified the niche that Phi has been nurturing this entire time.  So Emotional dropped during a time when moombahton producers were gettin’ real wild with lazers, bass, and other-worldly robot sounds, so to hear something like this that was melodic, sweet-tempered and well, emotional, it felt almost like a shock to the system.  But very much welcomed.  Not only was it extremely quality work, but it broadened the horizons of moombahton, reeling in fans of different genres to let them know, “Hey, we’ve got something here for you, too”.  Even though So Emotional was a bit out of the box at the time, it immediately garnered an insane amount of trust in the foresight, creative endeavor, and production value of Phi Unit and Cousin Cole.  And lucky for you, So Emotional II should be out before you know it.  Keep watch!

Phi Unit is certified-dope.  You heard it here first!  Check out the interview below so you can luv him as much as I do. <3

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #12: Phi Unit”

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #9 – Smutlee

smutlee

This Special Edition of Meet Your Moombahtonistas combines some of my favorite things from across the pond: Smutlee, Neil Queen-Jones, and moombahton.  Smutlee produced one of my first and all-time favorite moombahton tracks – an edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Kid’s “Majik”.  This carnival-esque jam led me on the craziest Internet goose chase for it’s download but I finally found it, along with a connection to the man himself via Neil Queen-Jones.  Neil has written for his own blog, Pop Culture Care Package, but has since moved on to bigger and better things, like writing consistently based articles for Mixmag, joining me at Moombahton.com, and constructing devious plans for moombahton’s world takeover.  All that being said, it was only right that I gave him the very first guest post on Cool Breezy. – -Casey

God help the person who has to write the story of moombahton. It’s a sprawling, viral bastard, one that has zero regard for potential journo man hours. Even trickier to write will be the chapter on the UK. Nobody can fuck with our contribution to dance music history – if we’re not giving birth to genres like grime, we’re making them happen, as we did with house, or finding a way to put our own stamp on it, as we did with hip hop. We feel that we have our own special cosign tucked away in our back pockets, that genres aren’t complete unless the UK is involved. Even moombahdon Dave Nada admitted this: “I’m beyond excited about the UK response, that’s the biggest compliment. You’ve got cats like Toddla and Smutlee on it – and I can’t wait to hear new stuff from other UK producers. I think my brain just melted!” See?  So the fact that moombahton is doing perfectly fine without us is pretty fucking galling. I blame the island mentality – it’s the geographic equivalent of only-child syndrome, the isolation makes us here in the UK a bit chippy. It’s not like we haven’t played  a part; Toddla T, Sinden, Annie Mac, Zane Lowe, Mixmag, The Guardian, Mistajam and Kayper have all given it a huge push, it’s just that any kind of scene has struggled to take shape, and no discerning sound has shown its buds. Yet.

That’s not quite the whole story, though. One man has been a virtual cottage industry within the genre: Smutlee. Emerging from a background of bashment, UK funky and tropical, The London DJ may not have been the first person in the country to pick up on the sound – DJs like Martelo and Sinden clocked it early doors, while journalist Joe Muggs wrote an outstanding intro piece that helped win over Smutters (and myself into the bargain), but Smutlee did make the biggest moves to boost the profile in this tiny island of ours. All it took was one tune: his edit of Mescal Kid & Ms Thing’s “Majic”. Knowing Smutlee as I do, it’s hard to not see how the man and the track are inextricably linked: he’s perpetually happy, positive and buoyant  – everything you could say about “Majic”, a ready-made anthem converted to a compact 108bpm bundle of elation. It also hit a sweet spot in terms of the UK’s involvement in moombahton: though a highly multicultural land, the influence of latin culture is marginal – far greater is the Caribbean vibe, so Smutlee’s Majic edit customised moombahton’s DNA, reducing the latin, pumping up the Dembow connection by giving it a dancehall collagen shot. With Dave Nada offering full support and DJ Melo reaching out to include the track on his Winter Of Moombahton comp, alongside fellow Brits Jimi Needles and Jera , Smutlee’s spot had been secured, and moombahton finally had a foothold in the UK – and his bashment vibe set a template for a nation; check out Jake Twell & Jamrock’s Elephant Man-led Neck Tie on Pickster’s Rise Of Moombahton comp and the presence of Feral, nee MC Kinky, the glorious potty-mouthed toasty ragga factory that she is.

And so it continued, with drops like his blend of Booka Shade’s Body Language and Natalie Storm’s Look Pon Me, the fella confirmed a distinct flair for highly melodic and resonant tracks, a trait that also runs through his DJ sets and mixtapes – always led by an ear for character and melody, full of expansive emotional drive. For me, his Mixpak mixtape remains one of the genre’s finest, followed closely by his one for Mixmag, which is a virtual Cliff’s Notes for newbies.

While he sits on a pile of astonishing but ungrabbable edits, many of them featured on his Mixpak set, another of his tracks, his official remix of Schlachtofbronx’s Chambacu (munch on that shit, Scrabble heads), proved that he neither follows anyone else’s sound, nor does he recycle his own.  One part Dembow, one part cumbia, 2,000 parts airhorn, it sticks out in any set like a ginger albino at an Odd Future gig. Then there’s the Toddla T connection. Before T went
stateside to hang with Nada, Munchi and Dillon, Smutlee was on hand to keep the Sheffield DJ on his 108s, popping up on Toddla’s Radio 1 show. Not saying that Smutlee gets the assist for Toddla’s patronage of the scene, but I am in a roundabout way saying that he should get a knowing nod and a large glass of whatever he fancies for being there.

What remains so striking about Smutlee is that he observes a strict quality over quantity approach – he’s not one to flood SoundCloud, nor does he seem the go-to man for compilations, but this doesn’t seem to dampen the regard he’s held in. In the past few months he’s been more in demand than ever – with bookings at the bookends of the states, first at Que Bajo in New York, then more recently alongside Sabo at Vibrate in LA. Oh, and he’s just off for some dates in Australia as you read this (warning: this sentence elapses NOW), plus he’s actually prepping to release an EP, due on Greenmoney in the new year.

Before he disappeared Antipodes-wards to get stock up on wifebeater shirts and to step up his finishing-every-sentence-tonally-as-if-it’s-a-question game, I took the chance to speak to him on behalf of your girl Casey for Cool Breezy. Here’s what emerged from the part of his brain which selects words and constructs sentences…

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #9 – Smutlee”

Meet Your Moombahtonistas #8: David Heartbreak

Heartbreak

He knows how to command a club full of party people and will undoubtedly melt off each of their unsuspecting faces.  I’m talkin’ about David Heartbreak, one of the most diversely creative moombahtonistas in the game right now.  His goal is simple – to make people dance.  He simply knows no boundaries and will not stop until you’re movin’.

It’s nearly impossible to peg Heartbreak’s signature sound because he jumps around from genre to genre so frequently.  From moombahsoul to moombahcore to Burial-esque ambience – he consistently produces different sounds so he never gets bored, and in turn, we don’t either.  It’s always a win-win situation with Heartbreak.  You’ll never hear him create the same tune.  Thank god for that.  He has an intense focus on becoming a well-rounded producer and aims to have a full understanding of the vibes and technicalities of many different genres so he stays in the lab trying to perfect their production processes.

His unrelenting hustle and unwavering curiosity about other genres have resulted in an impressive arsenal of tunes.  I could sit here and rattle off all of Heartbreak’s releases but by the time you looked away, we would be well into next week and I can’t have you skippin’ out on any of this week’s moombahton releases!   But seriously.  “Blaze Up (That Jeffrey)”, the collaboration between Heartbreak and Toddla T – instant moombahton anthem.  You’d be hard-pressed to find a moombahton party that doesn’t have this banger pumpin’ through the speakers.   Additionally, Heartbreak’s mini releases – M1 through M7 – display the constant evolution of his unique style.  Touting only a handful of tracks combine, the M releases created  an outlet for Heartbreak to experiment with big room bangers and push the boundaries of his creativity within moombahton.

On the other hand, Heartbreak revealed his softer side this summer as he released three volumes of Moombahsoul tracks that tossed an underhanded pitch to any guy who needed to step up their love game.  Heartbreak’s moombahsoul innovation directly catered to the ladies of moombahton with its sensual, soulful sex tunes.  With a Mad Decent cosign to the moombahsoul movement, almost every moombahtonista in the game contributed their unique sound to the three-volume compilation, including Nadastrom, Sazon Booya, Jon Kwest, and Torro Torro.  Moombahsoul added another face to the growing genre – one that oozed of an R&B revival with sexy vocals instead of hyperactive lazers, sirens, and heavy bass.  There’s a time and place for everything and luckily, Heartbreak is a man of many talents.

Heartbreak serves as the tirelessly creative catalyst for moombahton.  I’m pretty convinced he lives in the studio so his production never ceases nor does the quality ever waiver.   He constantly encourages his fellow moombahtonistas to push the boundaries of their abilities and in turn, ignite the movement towards world domination.

Heartbreak stepped away from Pro Tools just long enough for me to yoke him up for a little Q&A session with the kid, so check it out after the jump!

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #8: David Heartbreak”

Q&A: Dirty Sweaty Nasty – Virginia’s Finest

So, exciting news!  My friends The Clown Prince, DJ XO, and Grom of Dirty Sweaty Nasty are celebrating their 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY this Friday night and I wanted yall to get to know them a bit before you head out this weekend and wipe your brain clean of everything you’ve ever known.  DSN is more than a fun DJ collective – it’s a lifestyle.  These guys live it every day and ya know, one day that lifestyle might give you alcohol poisoning once or thrice but it’s all in the name of the game.  DSN is all about lightening up, having a good time, and possibly doing something you’ll regret later in life.

Join them THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at Sweet Spot in DC starting at 9PM.  The whole crew will be there in all of their intoxicating glory along with our friends Billy the Gent and Denman.  You probably know Billy the Gent from this summer’s hottest moombahton hit “Vibrate” from his Vibrate EP.  Or maybe he’s tattooed you over at Tattoo Paradise.  Basically, if you’re in DC, you know Billy.  And if you don’t, you need to.  He’ll be hooking you up with the very best of moombahton all night.  Denman, on the other hand, is our beloved Prince of Darkness.  He hates the sun and unapologetically worships Satan but he’s one of the nicest dudes on the planet.  He’ll be gettin’ ya down low with all that bass-ripping dubstep and some of the grimiest, dirty souf hip hop you’ve ever heard.

In addition to all these sweet tunes you’re gonna hear, DSN has hooked ya up with drink specials all night as well as automatic guestlist if you RSVP on the Facebook invite by 6PM on Friday.  Save yourself $5 and put it towards some booze.

Listenables:
DSN Mini Mix 001 – Denman
DSN Throbcast021 – Billy the Gent
Dirty Sweaty Nasty SoundCloud

Q&A: Dirty Sweaty Nasty – Virginia’s Best Blackout

So, exciting news!  My friends The Clown Prince, DJ XO, and Grom of Dirty Sweaty Nasty are celebrating their 2 YEAR ANNIVERSARY this Friday night and I wanted yall to get to know them a bit before you head out this weekend and wipe your brain clean of everything you’ve ever known.  DSN is more than a fun DJ collective – it’s a lifestyle.  These guys live it every day and ya know, one day that lifestyle might give you alcohol poisoning once or thrice but it’s all in the name of the game.  DSN is all about lightening up, having a good time, and possibly doing something you’ll regret later in life.

Join them THIS FRIDAY NIGHT at Sweet Spot in DC starting at 9PM.  The whole crew will be there in all of their intoxicating glory along with our friends Billy the Gent and Denman.  You probably know Billy the Gent from this summer’s hottest moombahton hit “Vibrate” from his Vibrate EP.  Or maybe he’s tattooed you over at Tattoo Paradise.  Basically, if you’re in DC, you know Billy.  And if you don’t, you need to.  He’ll be hooking you up with the very best of moombahton all night.  Denman, on the other hand, is our beloved Prince of Darkness.  He hates the sun and unapologetically worships Satan but he’s one of the nicest dudes on the planet.  He’ll be gettin’ ya down low with all that bass-ripping dubstep and some of the grimiest, dirty souf hip hop you’ve ever heard.

In addition to all these sweet tunes you’re gonna hear, DSN has hooked ya up with drink specials all night as well as automatic guestlist if you RSVP on the Facebook invite by 6PM on Friday.  Save yourself $5 and put it towards some booze.

Listenables:
DSN Mini Mix 001 – Denman
DSN Throbcast021 – Billy the Gent
Dirty Sweaty Nasty SoundCloud

There Can Only Be One: Reed Rothchild

reed

You know Reed Rothchild’s in the house if you smell the smoky deliciousness of freshly cooked bacon wafting in the air.  Yeeeeeahhhh buddy!  It’s always time for bacon when Reed Rothchild is around.  He loves bacon so much that he comes equipped to each of his shows with a bag of delicious bacon, or what he’s now dubbed as Rave Bacon.  Now tell me, how many DJs do you know who will feed you a tasty breakfast side dish while you rage to his tunes?  I only know of one.  The Baconator himself, Reed Rothchild.

Rothchild is one of the most fun and diverse DJs I’ve seen in the DC area.  He literally plays EVERYTHING.  No matter where he plays, whether it’s at Starscape, Mega, or any other Steez Promo rave, you’ll hear a nice mix of moombahton, electro, hip-hop, and Baltimore club.  He’s all over the place, in a good way.  He’ll keep you interested all night and he actually looks like he has fun doing it.  The energy transfers very well.  One of my favorite events he throws is his bi-monthly party, Reed vs. Reed, at Little Miss Whiskeys in DC, where he teams up with Obeyah for an all-night jam session of drunken debauchery.  Little Miss Whiskeys crafts up this deceptively tasty creeper house drink that’ll put you on that next level.  Combine that with Rothchild’s expert selecting and you really have a night you couldn’t forget even if you wanted to.

On that note, this Sunday we’ll be celebrating a magical holiday also known as Reed Rothchild’s Birthday.  He’s made it to see thirty years on this here Planet Earth all while keeping that boyish figure.  I dunno how he does it but it might have something to do with the breakfast mafia so I don’t ask questions.  Either way, he’ll be throwing a birthday rager at Rock & Roll Hotel in DC called Moombacon Massive.  (See what he did there?)  The party starts at 8PM and if you get there early, you can even join him in a Feast of the Godz featuring fried chicken and bacon.  If that doesn’t give you a heart attack, check out this killer line-up of DJs – Baltimore club legend Scottie B, King Tutt, James Nasty, Uncle Jesse, DJ Smudge, Keenan, Denman, and the birthday boy himself.  One look at the line-up and amenities and it feels more like a gift to us than it is to him but I think he really gets off on watching people get gluttonous in the club.  I’m not mad at that.  Party on, Garth.

Fun Bonus Fact:  Moombacon Massive also serves as a celebration of the re-launch of his notoriously hilarious corner of the World Wide Web, Head of Rothchild.  HOR serves as a bacon-centric hub of disgustingly delicious recipes, sophisticated critiques of shitty MySpace rappers, and all that other weird Internet shit.  HOR is gut-wrenching on the regular, either from constant uproarious laughter or the thought that your insides might explode if you ate anything he cooks up, like The Dog Child (WHAT IS THAT?!).  But now he’s taking one step closer towards world domination by adding a rack of like-minded individuals who are eager to contribute to the Power of Pork.  And your girl might could be involved in that.  ;)

So in the interest of really getting to know The Baconator, I hassled The Man for a little bit of information.  This is me sharing the wealth.  Below, we talk about Baltimore club, bacon, and what we can do to prepare ourselves for Sunday’s Moombacon Massive.

Cool Breezy:  Normal Protocol.  For the people who aren’t familiar yet, how long have you been DJing and what’s your favorite genre to spin?

Reed Rothchild:  I started playing out in DC around 2000.  My first “gig” started in a basement of an Irish Pub where college kids would come down with their Kinko’s IDs and nearly drink themselves into a coma.  Oddly enough, that place is still there today. My favorite genre to spin has and always will be Baltimore Club.  It’s what really opened my eyes to other music before getting into DJing.  Back in the mid 90’s my friends and I would drive down to a club in DC but would stay in the car listening to the 92Q live broadcast because it was one of the only times we got to hear it.  Then we would go in all hyped up.  A lot of the music I play, even if it isn’t straight Baltimore Club, you can hear the influence in a lot of tracks.  That’s about it for genres.  I keep my sets as an open book, you’re going to hear a little bit of everything, plus I have mad A.D.D. so I like to go fast in order to keep interested.

CB:  I’ve been to plenty of your shows and I’m getting the feeling that you really like to facilitate the madness.  Do you have any crazy stories you wanna share from one of your sets?

RR:  I could go on about a few memorable gems but would need to check the statute of limitations first.  I’ve been doing it for almost ten years now so a lot of it is starting to become blurry memory-wise but I have to say for whatever reason I’ve seen a lot of fights.  When I lived in Vegas a few years ago, I played at a pool party and saw a couple fucking in a Cabana.  I thought it was awesome but apparently that’s about as common as Nikes out there.

CB:  I really wanna get down to business though.  I’ve seen you two on the streets, in the club, and in DC’s finest eateries.  How long have you and bacon been in a committed relationship and how is it working out for you?  I don’t wanna get too presumptuous but you seem pretty happy together.

RR:  It’s a great relationship, no doubt.  Bacon has been with me through the hard times and the good times.  Never complains and is always there for you. The only time we got into it and 911 was called, it was for an ambulance.

CB:  Word on the mean streets is that Head of Rothchild is gonna be seeing a re-launch next week.  What’s in store for everybody?  Will we still be seeing your heart-stopping bacon recipes, endless social commentary, and of course, Ziplok’s dope rapping skills?

RR:  Your source is correct as usual.  The H.O.R. is coming up on its two year anniversary and I thought it would be a good time to expand the brand by bringing in a few more creative faces who I think share the same mindset as me.  It’s going to have a new look, even have advertisers, but fear not, you’re going to see the same fatboy recipes, great music, and discovering some of the crazy creatures the Internet has to offer.

CB:  Tell us what we need to know to get prepared for Moombacon Massive.  How should we avoid getting carried out on a stretcher?

RR:  Come with an empty stomach, rested liver, and an open mind musically.  Have to give a huge thanks to Smudge and the crew over at One Love Massive who have been super helpful in pushing this event.  It’s going to be a melting pot of activity with Free Bacon, Free Fried Chicken, and Free Condoms.  Also celebrating the H.O.R. re-launch along with the miracle known as my 30th birthday.  The massive basically reflects on everything that the H.O.R. is about: food, music, and a shit show.  I’m super excited to have some of my favorite DJ’s come aboard for it – Scottie B, King Tutt, Uncle Jesse, James Nasty, Smudge, Keenan, and Denman.  Thank GAWD Monday is a holiday because we’re all going to need the recovery time.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#7): Pickster One

pickster

Yesterday I raved about the talents of DJ Melo from Arizona.  I’m gonna continue the rave today with his counterpart, Pickster One.  Dude’s the dopeness!!  No, he really is.  Like I said, I didn’t really expect moombahton to thrive in Arizona.  After all, it is the desert, right?  But Pickster and Melo are really bringing sexy back with their productions.  But more importantly, they’re putting Arizona on the map as a thriving environment in which moombahton can originate and grow.

Pickster and Melo’s first collaboration came in the form of the Arizonaton EP.  I’ve fangirled about this release so much recently that you probably already know ALL about it but I’ll recap it really quick.  Arizonaton is a seven-track release that captures the essence of Pickster and Melo’s brand of sexy:  not this booty-shakin Beyonce sexy, but it feels more like this slow, seductive, gypsy sexy.  Just listen and you’ll get it.  Pickster has two solo productions on Arizonaton, “Waistline” and “Keep the Dice Rolling”, which show he dabbles more in the harder side of moombahton by blasting more wobbles and lazers than sensual vocals and baby-makin’ riddims.  But versatility is the name of the game and he’s got it like that.

As a fan of moombahton, I’m super thankful for the Pickster and Melo collaboration.  It goes right along with Chad Hugo and Pharrell (Neptunes) or more relevantly, Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada (Nadastrom).  It just feels right and not even in some regular kind of way.  I’m not too sure how it’s possible to rejuvenate a genre that’s still in the infancy stage, but with collaborative tracks like “Fat Booty” and “Sweaty Sax”, it feels like they did just that. 

But thankfully, that’s not where it ends for Pickster.  He’s just getting started in the game, yall!!  He has a track, “Don’t Go”, in Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which forms the unlikely hybrid of UK hardcore and moombahton (but what is “unlikely” anymore?).  With “Don’t Go”, Pickster’s moombahton slow-down of The Awesome 3’s UK hardcore track, he excelled at exactly what I love about his productions.  He layered these slow, desperate, yearning vocals that plead, “I cannot bear to see you leave me.  I’m begging you, don’t go…” over aggressive dubstep wobbles.  He successfully tapped into that moombahcore side of his creative genius but still kept it sexy as hell. 

Speaking of sexy, he’s also got some tunes on the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection.  He collaborated with Riot Earp on “Around”, which is a moombahsoul remix of The Spinner’s soul track “I’ll Be Around”.  He also made a moombahsoul remix of Al Green’s R&B track, “Let’s Stay Together”.  These productions are simple but effective and instant classics of the moombahsoul genre.

Recently Pickster’s been gettin’ extreme though!  He’s got two pretty hardcore tracks floating around the interwebs lately, the first being on Munchi’s Verano del Moombahton release.  “Mami Mueve” combines aggressive vocals with rave-y sirens and synths.  It’s pretty serious.  And on today’s M6 release from David Heartbreak, Pickster collaborated with Mendez on a remix of “Blaze Up”, which doesn’t skimp on the state-of-emergency sirens.  These tracks are gonna send some people through the roof. 

But one of the most unique additions to the moombahton game from Pickster came via his AZ Gunslingaz EP.  It’s a five-track release that features productions from Sluggo, Riot Earp, Mendez, Noha, Melo, and Pickster himself.  AZ Gunslingaz is all about reppin’ Arizona and the South Western vibes.  Pickster’s “Put Down De Gun” is a vicious moombahcore production that goes well soundtracking a Wild Wild West shootout.  And Pickster and Melo’s track, “El Bumper” makes me wanna get my fiesta on.  You know how you can hear the difference between east coast and west coast rap?  AZ Gunslingaz is one of the first moombahton releases we’ve heard that is truly specific to geographic location, giving us a taste of the west but still fitting into the genre as a whole.  I love that and I’d really like to hear more producers reppin’ where they’re from.

So, I have good news for you.  Pickster and Melo are flying into DC today, so stay in town to catch these fools live and in action.  Tonight they’ll be playing at the Looking Glass Lounge as part of a Moombahton Massive Pregame event.  Then, tomorrow they’ll be playing the main event – Moombahton Massive VI.  Sunday, they’ll be back in their side of the country in Vegas for the Moombahton Massive Pool Party.  So you’ve got plenty of chances to see them do their thing. 

Til then, read this in-depth interview I had with Pickster where we talk about his early days as a bboy (yup!), how he got into moombahton, and what it’s like working with Melo:

 

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and what were you playing before moombahton?

Pickster:  I have been DJing since the late 90’s.  [I’ve] been into hip-hop since I was a little kid.  I was in a break dancing crew when I was eight years old called Rock Steady crew, too.  Haha.  Ahh, man. Little fat kid trying to spin on his back and shit.  I used to be a MC for years.  Then one of my homies got a set of turntables in high school and I fell in love.  [I] started buying vinyl for the next three years till I could afford my own set-up.  [Then I] moved to Arizona to go to culinary school and got my degree in Culinary Arts. I was running a kitchen at a big resort here in Arizona, [but I] slowly started to realize I could make the same amount of money hustling DJ gigs in clubs as I could busting my ass all week in a HOT Arizona kitchen.  It was a no brainer.

[Before moombahton,] I was a hip-hop club DJ.  I’ve been in a couple hip-hop bands.  That was what really taught me how to write a song, structure a song, and how to bring an idea all the way to a physical CD in your hand.  That whole process is not easy at all!

CB:  What about moombahton and its community inspired you to get involved?

P:  When I first started working with Melo on some edits and remixes last summer.  It was a real small community.  It still is really.  And I thought it was cool that the dudes making the music and creating it would actually email me back, give me feedback on SoundCloud, and respond to me on Twitter.  Haha, I know that sounds cheesy, but being able to have that interaction and even if my track sucked, they would be like, “Yo.  You need to work on that before you put it out.  Maybe change this up..,blah blah…” – that’s priceless.  But it wasn’t until I had my First Moombahton Moment when I actually got bit by the Moombahton Bug.  I was playing edits, trying to mix a few tunes into my sets, and I thought that’s all moombahton would ever be.  But one day I was playing a set and I got into some Moombahton.  I saw my dance floor go from “yeah, this is cool.   I’m having fun…” to straight fr33ky!  Guys and girls dry humping, getting sweaty, and yelling when the next tune dropped.  I was floored and amazed at what just happened.  Then I tried to do it again at my next gig and I cleared the dance floor and almost lost my job!  I didn’t know what I was doing with that style of music at the time.  But after some good trial-and-error, finding out what works and more importantly, what doesn’t work, I have been lucky enough to incorporate that learning process into my tunes and get me going in the right direction.

CB:  What’s the moombahton scene like in Arizona?  Do people respond to it well?

P:  It’s actually budding pretty damn nice now.  We did an interview about two months ago with a local paper when Melo and I were about to drop Arizonaton.  At that time we still were not sure how Moombahton was gonna do in our home town.  But since then people have been catching on and a lot of local producers, DJs, and promoters are slowly starting to see what’s happening.  We have been getting more and more support and people coming out to our nights.  I have a Wednesday night here called Scenario.  It’s a rooftop party in Downtown Phoenix.  It’s a global Bass night, real heavy on the moombahton, and we have been playing moombahton real heavy the last nine or ten months.  Now people are showing up just to hear that style of music.  We had Dave Nada there for our release party.  We have David Heartbreak there this past Wednesday for our AZ Gunslingaz EP release party.  And we have Doc Adam, the Moombahtista from Portland, on the books for September.  I’m really happy where Moombahton is right now in Arizona.

CB:  You and Melo seem to have really great chemistry as a production team.  What was your creative process like for Arizonaton?

P:  We have a real raw approach to making music, haha.  We probably do a lot of things wrong if somebody was to watch us make a song.  But whatever, ya know.  I’ll tell any producers starting out, “whatever works best for you and whatever software, program or environment works best for you to be creative, run with it.”  I made some of my best tunes on shitty out-dated software, but it sounded good!  But one of us would have an idea, concept, or just start a song, then we would send files over the internet and work on them at our own houses on our own time.  We actually never sat in the studio together at all for Arizonaton.  We do now and we are using similar gear to make the tunes now which makes it easier for us to work in the studio together.  But Melo and I grew up with the same musical backgrounds – hip-hop-based but willing to play anything that is good.

CB:  Who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

P:  You know, that’s a hard one.  I have a few favorites right now but they really span over different styles of moombahton.  I think different producers are finding their niche and are really shining in their respective areas.  I’m really feeling all the Texas kids stuff – Sonora, Orion, and all the Peligrosa kids.  Bro Safari doin’ it.  He’s from Texas, too, but a different camp.  I’m feelin Billy the Gent, & Long Jawns stuff.  I’m feeling JWLS from Miami.  The Tactic bro’s.  There is so much good stuff out there it’s really hard to say one person. 

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#6): DJ Melo

melo

Alright, look guys.  I’m gonna try not to fangirl too much in this piece but I can’t help myself.  DJ Melo from Arizona is undoubtedly one of my favorite moombahton producers right now.  To be completely honest, I never really thought of Arizona to be that kind of a happenin’ spot.  But then Pickster and Melo’s Arizonaton EP came out and I was like, “WHO ARE THESE GUYS?!”  So I had to find out.  I present to you…the first installment of Who Are These Guys From Arizona and What Makes Their Music So Sexy, featuring DJ Melo.  Read on!

I keep tellin’ yall, Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date.  It changed the game for the better and put Arizona on the map as a legitimate moombahton hotspot.  Melo’s productions fit right into the thriving genre, offering the standard, but well-executed sounds like heavy synths and tropical vibes as seen in “Don’t Make Me Wait” and that unmistakable Hispanic influence seen in “Es Dificil”.  But the fated collaboration between Melo and Pickster has provided an undeniably incredible chemistry, a certain feeling of “EUREKA!” I haven’t felt since Matt Nordstrom and Dave Nada combined to form Nadastrom.  Their collaborated sounds add something new to the moombahton conversation – this old world, sexy gypsy style (see: “Sweaty Sax”, a remix of a track from a local Arizona band, Dry River Yacht Club).  I’ve felt the tropical vibes and the reggaeton influence in the original moombahton tracks, the dubstep wobbles in moombahcore, and the smooth R&B vocals in moombahsoul, but I hadn’t heard anything like this before Arizonaton.   They create this unique style of yearning and seduction in their tunes.  It just totally brings a brand new type of sexy to the table.  I need more of it.

But Melo is definitely not a one-trick-moombahtonista.  He’s got his hands in all sorts of creations.  One of his productions made the cut for Jon Kwest’s Dust Mask EP, which created yet another moombah-hybrid, this time between moombahton and UK hardcore – an unlikely pair on to see paper but its execution is spot-on.  Melo’s track, “Rocking Down the House” is one of the standout tracks for me on Dust Mask, with its energetic synths and hypnotic glitching vocals.

Melo also teamed up with Kwest on an unforgettable track for the first volume of David Heartbreak’s moombahsoul collection.  Kwest and Melo combined efforts to create a sweet, sensual moombahsoul track, “Ecstasy”, which sampled vocals from a track of the same name by a 70s funk band called the Ohio Players.

Switching it up a bit, Melo collaborated with Pickster again on Pickster’s latest release, the AZ Gunslingaz EP.  This release was all about reppin’ Arizona and the southwestern culture and Melo did exactly that with his two tracks, layering Spanish vocals over haunting ghost town whistles (see: “Pijama” with Noha and Mendez) and sexy fiesta handclaps (see: “El Bumper” with Pickster).

Word on the streets is that Melo’s got his own EP called Star Time coming out soon via Think 2wice Records.  There’s no specific release date but I do know that it’s another sweet collaboration with Pickster (thank the moombahgodz!) featuring remixes by Boyfriend and Fellow.  It’ll be available on Beatport and iTunes but keep your eyes here because you know I gotchu!  I can’t wait to hear what they’ve got up their sleeves.  Until then, we wait…

If you need more Melo in your life, which you do, here’s how I can help you.  First, read the Q&A I had with him below, where we talk about his early days as a DJ, how he found Pickster, and what kind of advice he can give for future producers.  After you’re done reading that, make sure you get that ass to DC this week to check him out in real life.  He and Melo are flying across the country to be with us!  Tomorrow night, Wednesday August 17th, he’ll be playing with a rack of dope moombahtonistas for a Moombahton Massive Pregame event at The Looking Glass Lounge in DC.  Then, on Thursday night, August 18th, is the main event – Moombahton Massive VI at U Hall!!!!  Everybody you know will be there.  Then, on Sunday they’ll be back in their neck of the woods for the Moombahton Massive pool party in VEGAS!!  So there are lots of opportunities to catch him playing.  Don’t sleep!

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing?  Who are some of your influences?

Melo:  I started DJing house parties back in the early 90’s here in Phoenix, [around] ‘92, ‘93 or so.  I’ve been doing clubs since 2000.  I’ve been producing a little over a year now.  Early influences range from Grandmaster Flash, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, Masters at Work, the KDAY Mixmasters from LA, and the Hotmix 5 from Chicago among others.  Production wise I would say I’ve been influenced by Dave Nada for setting it off, Munchi for making it legit, David Heartbreak for the constant encouragement, Sabo for the clean polished sound and Dillon Francis for just taking the sound a lot further.

CB:  How’d you hear about moombahton out in Arizona and what inspired you to get involved?

M:  My boy DJ Adikshun sent me Dave Nada’s Moombahton back in March of 2010 and asked if had any other tunes like that.  I had heard some of the raverton stuff Toy Selectah had made before that and some of the Bersa Discos stuff.  I have been spinning reggaeton, house & hip-hop for years now, so I thought Moombahton was tailor made for me, haha.  I used to DJ and produce for local Phoenix hip-hop group Ill Phonix in the late 90’s, but it wasn’t till I heard moombahton that I got inspired to make a couple edits and put them on SoundCloud.

CB:  Arizonaton is one of my favorite moombahton releases to date.  What was it like working with Pickster on the EP?

M:  I’ve tried working with other producers before but something about working with Pickster just clicked.  He has a great ear and his beats are just dope!  We made Arizonaton over the Internet.  I would send him stuff or he’d send me ideas and the other would pretty much finish it.  He did all the mastering and would test out the songs at Bar Smith on the soundsystem.  I like how that EP came out.

 CB:  Who is your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

M:  I wouldn’t say I have a favorite.  All the guys I mentioned before I like for different reasons.  I like JWLS’ stuff, J-Trick, the El Cuco homies, Jon Kwest…I could go on and on. [There are] too many others to narrow it down to a favorite.

CB:  Do you have any advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers?

M:  Hmmmm advice?  Do work, I guess.  DJs – learn the craft.  Pay dues.  Producers – make some edits?  Just make music you like is probably the best advice I can give…

Gettin’ Fr33ky with Steve Starks

starks

As a certified party rocker and one-third of DC’s party crew, Nouveau Riche, Steve Starks is quite the force to be reckoned with here in the DC EDM scene.  He maintains a heavy presence in the city by frequently collaborating on productions and live-appearances with Nacey, releasing original tunes on T&A Records, and playing for all different kinds of party people.  Last Friday, he played for a rooftop of glowing ravers and moombahtonistas at Ibiza for Steez Promo’s MEGA event with Boys Noize.  Next Saturday, he’ll be playing with Craze at U Street Music Hall.  But if you need more evidence that he’s got the dopeness factor on lock, see below:

Exhibit A:  “Fr33ky in the Club” – Starks’ utilized DC’s hometown advantage in the moombahton scene by releasing an original production, “Fr33ky in the Club”.  This track turned out to be a moombahton anthem from the jump, as it encouraged party people to enthusiastically lose their shit in the club.  Girls, you know what I’m talkin’ about.  “Fr33ky in the Club” received some major love from Mad Decent and was also featured on many early moombahton mixes, including Brodinski’s European Introduction to Moombahton.  Because of this song, all of us moombahton-lovers are now known as “fr33ks” and for damn good reason too.

Exhibit B:  “Problem” – Most recently, Starks dropped a banger, “Problem”, for free download!  “Problem” is most definitely one of my favorite Starks productions so far.  It’s a classic dance track, full of bass and a touch of Baltimore club, all the while sampling an unlikely throwback, The Cardigans “Love Fool”.  (RIGHT?!)  With “Problem”, Starks not only rescued and revived “Love Fool” but also transformed it into a massive dance tune that totally bangs.

Exhibit C:  KIDS – Starks was one of the originators of DC’s old-school hip-hop dance party, KIDS.  For a few years on the first Saturday of every month, Starks joined his friends Nacey, DJ Jackie O, and DJ Lil Elle at DC9 to take you back to the old school by playing all the throwback hip-hop jams you could handle.  KIDS was inspired by the 90s cult classic film of the same name and embraced city culture the best way they knew how.  KIDS ran for a few years until they collectively agreed to end that chapter a few months ago.  But in its time, it was a rager for sure, usually packed wall-to-wall with sweaty party people gettin’ busy to Montel Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It”.

Exhibit D:  Nouveau Riche – On the second Saturday of every month, find Starks at his second home at U Street Music Hall for Nouveau Riche, a monthly dance party/shit show run by him and his friends Nacey and Gavin Holland.  As one of my favorite monthlies in DC, you never know what to expect at this one.  These self-proclaimed “party hunks” (I’m not arguing) play everything from dubstep to Baltimore club to electro to their very own productions.  Anything goes at this party and the unpredictability of it all is extremely exhilarating.  The only element you can truly rely on is everybody having an amazing time.  Hands down.  Starks and the rest of the Nouveau Riche boys rock that party like it’s their J-O-Bs (I guess it kind of is…) and they do a damn good job of it.  If everyone is crawlin’ out the club lookin’ like a hot mess, I’d say it was a successful night.

Keep watch for new tracks from Steve Starks comin’ atcha at random times via the innerwebz.  Unpredictable, but it’s happening.  Trust me.  It’s easier if you just stay ready.  In the meantime, if you wanna see him live in action, catch him and the rest of the Nouveau Riche crew at U Street Music Hall this Saturday starting at 10PM.  It’s bound to get totally w3ird so bring your favorite fr33k flag and let it fly high.

I recently caught up with Steve Starks to talk about his new tune, “Problem”, his favorite memory from Nouveau Riche, and what kind of goodies we can expect in the near future.

Cool Breezy:  How’d you get into DJing and producing?

Steve Starks:  I first started messing with production on an old demo program that I installed on my parents computer.  I would just make weirdo beats all day until that computer crashed.  I got one of my own in college and my homie, Nacey, showed me how to use Fruity Loops.  I learned all the basics on that program and have been making music since.  Along the way, I figured I should learn how to DJ so I could do the performance part.  I saved up and got some turntables and started playing parties here and there.  After school I moved to DC and linked up with Gavin Holland and started doing Nouveau Riche with him and Nacey and have been doing it ever since.

CB:  You just released “Problem”, which is a total monster of a track.  What’s next?  What are you working on now?

SS:  I got a new EP in the works for T&A Records and my Fr33ky in tha Club (moombahton) EP will be out shortly.  In the meantime, I wanna keep putting tracks out on my soundcloud.

CB:  Who are some of your influences as a DJ and producer?  Is there anybody you’re trying to work with in the future?

SS:  I grew up on hip-hop.  When I young I was really inspired by old Missy (Elliot) and Timberland tracks.  Being from Maryland, I also listened to a lot of Baltimore Club music on the radio [and at] house parties and school dances.  Once I got turned on to dance music, I found a place to tie together all my influences.  Blaqstarr and Green Velvet are still two of my favorite DJ/producers.

Right now I’m working on some collaborations with my hometown heroes Nadastrom and Tittsworth.  I’m also hoping to get up with Baltimore’s DJ Pierre in the near future.

CB:  What tunes are in your iPod rotation right now?

 

SS:  I’ve been real into Lex Lugar and Juicy J’s mixtape. Brodinski, Brenmar, Movado, Munchi, The Dream, Eric Rincon, Tittsworth and Alvin Risk are in heavy rotation. Lots of hip-hop old and new and the most random tunes from Dolly Parton to Pantera to Jodeci.

 CB:  Got a favorite memory from one of those crazy ass Nouveau Riche parties?

 

SS:  One that stands out is when the music cut one time.  Some one had kicked the plug out, but the vibe was so strong that people were clapping to the beat for like a minute straight.  Once the music cut back on it was pandemonium.  People lost their minds!  Also, our first time playing at U Street Music hall was really special.  I still can get over what a good job they’ve done with that club. I’m so happy to call it home.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#5): Jon Kwest

kwest

A man of true diversity and versatility, Jon Kwest soars under the radar.  It’s not his style to be out in the limelight, flaunting his creativity.  He’s more of a “behind the scenes” type guy, and while that’s extremely humble of him, unfortunately it often leads to him being quite underrated.  Currently a resident of Philly, Kwest hails from my charming city of Baltimore.  He produces amazing Baltimore club music and despite my selfish desire to see him perform a club set in Baltimore, he is fully submerged in the moombahton scene.  I’m not mad at that at all.  He’s one of the most productive and meticulous moombahton producers in the game right now, only releasing tunes that are top of the line productions.  You won’t see any throw-away tracks coming from this guy.

While his moombahton productions vary in vibe from time to time, he’s known for creating this particularly smooth, soulful sound by replacing sirens and rave horns with house grooves and R&B vocals.  One of my favorite moombahton productions of his is “Dreamin’”, which samples vocals from that Christopher Williams’ tune, “I’m Dreamin’”.  Not exactly the standard moombahton rage tune, Kwest’s “Dreamin’” has this morning glory vibe to it.  He excels at producing tracks that are just outright super soulful, straddling the line between moombahton and moombahsoul, the hybrid of moombahton and R&B, which explains his heavy involvement with David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Compilation releases.  Kwest has seen his own productions featured on Heartbreak’s moombahsoul releases, as well as tracks he’s collaborated on with Heartbreak and DJ Melo.  This is where he thrives.  Don’t get me wrong – dude can rage.  But he stands out when he makes moombahton for the ladies.

As far as the subgenres of moombahton go, so far we’ve heard moombahcore, the hybrid of moombahton and dubstep, and moombahsoul.  But last week, Jon Kwest extended his creative reach by releasing Dust Mask, a compilation of new tunes that present a brand new hybrid of moombahton and UK hardcore (listen above).  Despite the lack of an official moombahname, Kwest found enough parallels between the two genres to be able to form a fresh and energetic hybrid, funneling the heavy synths of UK hardcore and the familiar dubstep wobble into moombahton zone at 108bpm.  On Dust Mask, Kwest slows down UK hardcore and revives these classic rave tunes by adding the sexiness of moombahton, reeling in all sorts of party people by appealing to both new school moombahton heads and old school ravers.  With these types of musical innovations, the moombahfamily just gets bigger and bigger by the day.

As a fan of moombahton, you owe it to yourself to see Jon Kwest live and in action.  He played a killer set at Moombahton Massive Tres in April.  And two weeks ago at the Artscape festival in Baltimore, he performed a set that was so heavily saturated in moombahton exclusives.  Tonight, he’ll be at Red Maple in Baltimore for Serious Dynamite’s first ever moombahton showcase.  Admittedly, the party people in Baltimore haven’t latched onto the moombahteet as well as its DC counterparts, but who better to open the floodgates than Jon Kwest himself?  And finally, if you can’t make it to Baltimore tonight, you better make plans to see him at U Hall on August 18th for Moombahton Massive VI.  It’s gonna be the biggest problem DC’s seen since Marion Barry.

(Tonight, Serious Dynamite begins at 10PM.  Get there early to enjoy $5 mojitos and boombas, and $3 Red Stripe until 11:30.  Plus, moombahton all night!  It’s a no-brainer.  Where else would you wanna be?!)

Anyway, I was really lucky to be able to catch up with Jon Kwest.  I had so many questions for him but I didn’t want to stifle his productivity so I kept it short.  We talked about the characteristics of moombahton that drew him to the genre, which producers are currently rockin’ his world, and what kind of advice he has for up and coming producers.

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing?  What came before moombahton?

JK:  [I] started DJing when I [began] high school, mostly hip-hop and some house & hardcore breaks.  My first real gig was in ‘94 playing jungle at a party in DC at that five-story “Bomb Shelter” warehouse. I remember Diesel Boy was playing too.  I was pretty hyped.

Production began around ‘98/’99, I guess.  When I started working at Music Liberated, [I] met up with Ian Carey.  Dude hooked me up with studio time here and there and that was it – I was hooked.  Around 2000 or so, Reason came out and the “room full of credit card debt” type studio wasn’t necessary.  Production became a daily thing.

CB:  What initially inspired you to start creating moombahton tunes?

JK:  The tempo is what primarily drove me to moombahton.  It was new, not just a half time snare over an existing genre.  It doesn’t mix tempo-wise with any other type of music so you have to really want to play it to play it.  I like the fact that there was pretty much every style of music represented.  It wasn’t all just noisy and hard, like it seems every new genre goes all too quickly.

I had been messing with mid-tempo type tunes for the last few years, but basically never had the balls or standing to really pursue it like Nada did.  Dude definitely went about it the right way.

CB:  Your name is at the top of many DJs’ lists of “favorite producers” right now.  How does it make you feel to be that dude?  And who are some of your favorite producers right now? 

JK:  I’m super hyped that like-minded people relate to what I do.  That’s why all of us let people hear our music.  I just do me though.  I’ve been going at this rate for a long time now.  Luckily, I found an outlet that motivated me to push myself again.

My favorites is a tough question… lotta folks.  Heartbreak, Munchi, Nadastrom, DJ Melo, Uncle Jesse, Sabo, Pickster One, Billy The Gent, Cam Jus and all the OG’s pretty much go without saying.  Tactic, Smutlee, Ckrono, Boyfriend, Neki Stranac, Sazon Booya, Soron, A-Mac, JWLS, Long Jawns, Nate Metro, DJ Theory all killin’ it right now.  Some cats I’ve only recently came across DJ DIce/Chicago Deadbeats & Habanero Posse out of Japan been sending me some nastiness lately.  I know as soon as I send this I’ll notice who I left off of this list and kick myself.

Every week I’m hearing from someone new that motivates me to go harder.

CB:  You have a lot of influence not only in the moombahton scene but also in the Baltimore club scene.  How do the two currently compare?

JK:  Current Baltimore Club is almost a grey term. It’s expanded and re-invented itself over the last few years.  Dudes like Benny Stixx, King Tutt, Murder Mark, DJ Say Wut [produce] tunes [that] can sound any number of different ways, which shows a versatility pretty much unseen since the term “Bmore Club” was termed in the early 90’s – no disrespect to anyone.

That, I believe, is the common ground.  We all wanted something new and instead of waiting for it, we made it.  We made it; expanded it; forced its evolution and made it our own voice.  That’s what makes influential music, not pandering.

It’s not supposed to be for everyone.

CB:  Do you have any words of advice for up-and-coming DJs and producers out there?

JK:  Do you 100%.  If you half ass your ideas to make dim wits happy, you should just throw in the towel and quit muddying up the craft.

Just as important, though – be humble, be polite and give credit where credit is due, but nothing of value ever comes from ass-kissing or dick-riding.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#4): JWLS

jwls

Probably one of the most excited DJs in the game right now, JWLS (aka Julio Mejia) is livin’ The Good Life.  Located in Miami, Florida, dude’s constantly cookin’ up fresh tracks in the lab, eatin’ mad Cuban sandwiches, and watchin’ bikini-clad girls strollin’ by with that switch that drives the boys crazy.  (Don’t worry – I’ve seen the Will Smith video.  That’s what it’s like, right?)  Anyway.  If you’ve been keeping up with the moombahton genre at all, you probably know JWLS from the Vibrate Chick EP.  (If you don’t have that yet, get dat ass over to moombahton.com and download it for free!  Then come back and keep reading.)

It turns out JWLS was a pretty big influence in the creation of the Vibrate Chick EP, the three-way collaboration between himself, DC’s Billy the Gent, and Virginia’s Long Jawns.  In the very first installment of Meet Your Moombahtonistas, I interviewed Billy the Gent and he explained how the Vibrate Chick EP came together.  He said Long Jawns created “Vibrate” while channeling JWLS’ sound and Billy himself felt that JWLS held the key to finishing an otherwise unfinished track, “Chick Like This”.  JWLS provided the missing pieces for the endeavor and ended up remixing “Vibrate” for the EP as well.  Basically, JWLS had his hands all up in this mix and I’d say it was for the greater good.

A moombahton hit from the jump, the three-track Vibrate Chick EP was released a month ago and has rocked every moombahton party I’ve attended ever since.  I’ve even heard “Vibrate” being played at super massive raves.  I saw Tittsworth drop it for the ravers at Starcape.  I saw Reed Rothchild drop it for the dubsteppers at Mega.  And most recently, I saw Billy drop it for the moombahtonistas at Moombahton Massive IV.  These tunes are being played for all sorts of EDM fans.  Even though the Vibrate Chick EP is only three tracks deep, it contains three solid tracks that are insanely versatile – what more could you ask for?

I’m still reelin’ off the tunes from Vibrate Chick and I needed to know more about these dudes Billy was workin’ with, so I hit the interwebz.  From there, I pretty much stumbled into JWLS’ world of musical wonderment via his SoundCloud.  His sounds bounce around from moombahton to electro to ambient chillwave but it’s all based around a strong hip-hop influence.  He’s got a Gucci Mane “Stoopid” bootleg here, a Weezy “6 Foot 7 Foot” bootleg there, but my absolute favorite is this Nicki Minaj “Did It On Em” bootleg he dropped about a month ago.  Shit is straight fire!  So hot it made the cut for that week’s Mad Decent SoundCloud Roundup and also made me realize this dude was one to watch.

JWLS is stuntin’ enough skills and swag to stand on his own, but “one is the loneliest number”, yall, so he teamed up with Van Toth (aka Matt Toth) to form Grand Theft Audio, or GTA.  Together they create these techy-house tunes that are quickly taking off.  GTA’s gotten love from official heads like Diplo, Laidback Luke, and Afrojack.  Pretty major!  Also, GTA just released a four-track EP on Monday via Mixmash Records called U&I/Next To Us, which includes an official Laidback Luke remix of their track “U&I”.  If you like the sound of that, go ‘head and buy that ish on Beatport!

So this is JWLS.  He’ll be in your area sooner than you know it.  But until then, read this Q&A I did with him where he talks about the Vibrate Chick EP, Miami girls, and Munchi’s hair.

 

Cool Breezy:  How long have you been DJing and producing and what got you into the game?  Also, I did a little facebook stalking in preparation for this.  Were you in a ska band?!

JWLS:  I’ve been producing for about a little over a year and a half, and DJing for a little over a year. I got into it through my friends in high school!  But I didn’t really do house or moombahton ‘till I met my friend (and partner in my other project, GTA) Matt Toth!

Haha! Yes, I actually was in a ska band.  I used to play trumpet back in high school.

CB:  How’d you first hear about moombahton and what initially attracted you to the genre?

J:  I first heard moombahton through SoundCloud.  I follow Dillon Francis on there, and I saw he favorited a track by Munchi, and I checked out his tracks and died.  I was really attracted to the Latin side of the whole thing.  I’m really into that type of music, and the fact that it could be involved so heavily with electronic music was awesome to me too.  Big ups Dave Nada!

CB:  You just collaborated with Billy the Gent and Long Jawns on the Vibrate Chick EP.  What was it like working with them, especially with none of you living in the same state? Also, what’s next on your agenda?

J:  Working with Billy The Gent and Long Jawns was dope.  They sent me their track “Vibrate”, and I thought it was super dope.  I asked if I could remix it, and they let me do it!  Long Jawns called me after I finished to tell me he loved it, haha.  Those guys are swagged out.  Billy The Gent and I kept in touch, also.  I was a fan of his when I first got into moombahton.  We ended up finishing this track he started by him sending me parts of the song, and I just put my touch on it with some marching band drums and rap beats!

Right now, I’m working on some new JWLS moombahton, and also working a lot in my other project, GTA. We have a release coming out this month on Laidback Luke’s label: Mixmash Records!  Be sure to check it out and cop it! #swag

CB:  What’s the moombahton scene like in Miami?  Is there a lot of competition as far as DJs and producers go and are the party people receptive to the genre?

J:  Moombahton down here is still underground, but I’m starting to see a lot of DJs fit moombahton into their sets.  There are a lot of DJs here actually, haha, so there is a good amount of competition.  At parties, everyone goes crazy when they hear moombahton, especially the girls, haha!

CB:  Who’s your favorite moombahton producer right now and why?

J:  I’d have to say Munchi, he’s so flexible with his genres and I think his hair is cool!

CB:  Last five albums you downloaded – go!

J:  1.  Tyler The Creator, Goblin
2.  Blow Your Head Vol. 2: Moombahton
3.  (idk if mixtapes count, but) Bird Peterson, Drankenstein (one of my favorites ever!)
4.  N.E.R.D, In Search Of (because I lost it)
5.  Bird Peterson: Holiday Spectacular