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.