Meet Your Moombahtonistas #10 – Sazon Booya

sazon booya

What the fuck is a SAZON BOOYA?!  Hint: It’s not a chicken seasoning.  Nor is it a Spanish war cry.  It’s more like the NYC-based DJ and production duo consisting of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV.  But the musical output of Sazon Booya is just as tasty as the finest adobo and just as powerful as the toughest Spanish army.

The Sazon Booya project doesn’t have as extensive of a history as the individual DJ careers of Mr. Vega and DJ SAV, but you would never be able to tell if you just looked at their list of accomplishments this year.  In fact, they’re on pace to become one of the most successful artists in the game.

Sazon Booya released their first EP, La Bomba, on Beatport this summer via their label, Rot10 Musik.  La Bomba is classic Sazon Booya – hardcore, energetic, and danceable tunes infused with global flair.  But to hype up the release, they created the first moombahton video ever to the title track, “La Bomba”.  This was a huge landmark for the moombahton as it legitimized genre by bridging the gap between the underground and the mainstream.  Since the debut of “La Bomba”, some of the genre’s greats have proceeded to create innovative music videos for their own tracks, including Tittsworth and Alvin Risk for their summer hit, “Pendejas”, and Nadastrom for their latest single, “i!!”

But don’t get it twisted.  Sazon Booya knows how to create a big room banger, but they’re definitely not scared to show their softer side.  They’ve produced some super suave tracks for David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul compilations and kept it really sexy during their Midnight Moombah Sessions, but they really nailed it on the head with their Moonlight EP.  They released Moonlight in November of 2011 and by that time, it’s obvious they perfected a unique sound combination of hardcore energy harnessed by smooth vocals.  And come this release, Sazon Booya stepped it up a notch.  There was no moombahton video to accompany the Moonlight EP (yet) but instead a US tour that spanned twelve cities from the East Coast to the West Coast with guests like Nadastrom, Billy the Gent, Cam Jus, and Benzona, to name a few.  With the Moonlight release and promo tour, it’s become clear that Sazon Booya is wiser beyond its years.  They seriously handle business with prompt releases, music videos, country-wide tours.  Sazon Booya is headed straight to the top and they’re taking moombahton with them.

Hard-working moombahton artists will always find success by honing and maintaining a unique, flavorful sound.  With mentors like Skrillex and Dave Nada, there’s no way that Sazon Booya will fall to the middle of the pack.  They’re a standout duo, through and through.  It’s even better to know that these dudes are some rad individuals who made time to answer some questions for Cool Breezy.  Read up!

Continue reading “Meet Your Moombahtonistas #10 – Sazon Booya”

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 (#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

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#3): Cam Jus

camjus

Remember that one time in April at Tropixxx when they were shooting the music video for “Pendejas” and the room was packed wall-to-wall with all sorts of sweaty girls (who later served as an undulating wave on which Tittsworth and Alvin Risk would crowd surf) all while getting showered with cold tequila and Boh?  Yeah.  I’ll never forget how ridiculously wild that night was and just hanging back, watching everybody go apeshit to moombahton, just validated the fact that our moombahtonistas are doing it right.  Absolutely killin’ it.  I know I tell this story a lot, but it’s so moombahton to me.  It’s also what really showed me that Cam Jus is really contributing to the moombahton scene in a great way.

When Dave Nada discontinued Moombahton Mondays, packed up his Pantene Steez and moved to LA (don’t worry, Dave, we understand), it left DC with some kind of void itching to be filled, specifically with mid-tempo global bass.  Enter Cam Jus.  He knew we needed more moombahton in our lives and quickly rallied his people to help put together Tropixxx and thus, save the day.  Once he recruited Billy the Gent, Tropixxx has been straight rockin’ ever since.  Partying at Tropixxx is what it would look and feel like if moombahton won the Super Bowl of EDM.  Once a month at Velvet Lounge in DC, everybody comes together to celebrate life, moombahton, and being a champion.  Right now, it’s the only monthly moombahton rager in DC and a quintessential reminder that moombahton is very much alive.  Here you can dance to four hours of straight moombahton and with new bangers comin’ out on the daily, Cam and Billy aren’t gonna let you leave without hearing all the brand new moombahtunes hittin’ their inboxes.

Not only is Cam Jus keepin’ you movin’ and groovin’ on the regular at Tropixxx, but he’s also released some pretty great moombahtunes lately.  Last month, he released his four-song NightVision EP, which includes some original tracks and moombahton edits.  The standout track is “Metro Center (Step Back)”, which samples that familiar ‘Step back.  Doors closing.’ command you hear on the Metro.  “Metro Center” is bursting with great energy and it really represents DC as the epicenter of moombahton.  On the other end of the spectrum, “Ease the Pain” samples the Lisa Fischer track, “How Can I Ease the Pain”, and is so smooth and sexy that it landed itself on David Heartbreak’s Moombahsoul Vol. 1 compilation.  In only four tracks, Cam Jus has you feelin’ all sorts of ways on his NightVision EP.

Last week, in light of the epic heat and humidity we were all experiencing in the area, he released two tracks for us under the title “Humid”.  Pretty appropriate – shit was sweltering over here for a minute.  Cam hooked us up with an Aaliyah “R U That Somebody” edit and “Motivation”, his bootleg of the Diplo remix.  It’s obvious that he wasn’t tryin’ to cool us down any with these tracks but that’s not what moombahton is about, is it?  Let’s keep the heat on at all times.

All of Cam Jus’s tracks are free for download on Cool Breezy, his site, and his SoundCloud page. If you like what you hear, shout him a holla on Twitter and come see him tomorrow night spinnin’ tunes with Billy the Gent at Moombahton Massive IV at U Hall.  If you haven’t been to Moombahton Massive yet, now’s the time.  Think Tropixxx, but in a bigger room.  It’s always major!  And if you can’t make it to Moombahton Massive tomorrow night, I feel for ya, but check out Let’s Blow This Joint! at vitaminwater uncapped LIVE, presented by Vitamin Water and those boys in Nouveau Riche.  Cam Jus will be spinning in the Coconut Lounge, so go say what up and don’t miss his set!

Cam Jus is a pretty cool dude and you should probably know him.  I’ll give you a jump start here, where we talk about the origin of Tropixxx, the feel of authentic moombahton, and my dude Jon Kwest.

 

Cool Breezy:  When did you start DJing and how did you get into producing?  What were you playing before moombahton was created?

 

Cam Jus:  I knew how to DJ since about 2002.  But [I] didn’t actually call myself a DJ until sometime in 2007.  Before moombahton, I was dj’ing a range of different kinds of hip hop and club music.  Depending on where I was living and who I was dj’ing in front of, it could be indie and classic hip hop, dirty south hip hop, reggae, etc.  And sometime around 2005 when the indie scenes started to get into dance parties I started getting interested in electronic music.  Everything with an urban club edge I liked:  bmore club, uk funky, baile funk, etc.  And that’s pretty much still the type of DJ I am – I just happen to play a lot moombahton now.  I started an on-and-off process of teaching myself to make tracks sometime in 2009/10.  And I only actually figured things out last winter since I started going to school for audio last fall.  So far I really just know more about sound in general than actually composing music.

CB:  What attracted you to the moombahton genre?

CJ:  I think it flipped the script and turned a lot of elements of dance and electronic music on its head by being played at 108 bpm.  Bass stands out a lot more at slower tempos often.  Even white noise stands out more.  I also like to give people a range of different vibes in my set.  And before, the dance stuff I was playing was 130-140 bpm.  Now I can go to 100 bpm and its not hip hop or any kind of normal popular music.  Also, if you’re like me, and you kinda ‘groove’ more than you ‘dance’, its cool cause the music’s not so fast.  I even drive to it.  It’s the flyest stuff to drive to right now with the humid weather in DC.  Bass and reggaeton rhythms and synths.  I also like that at the beginning of it, there was sort of a renegade dynamic to it.  Somebody spent all that time making a track and someone else came along, slowed it down, added a vocal, and it was automatically hotter than the original.  It was just a lot of bootleg stuff and there were a ton of haters.  A lot of people still don’t get it.  To them it’s just slower house music.

CB:  Describe the beginnings of Tropixxx and what’s it like working with Billy the Gent?  Also, you just had Jon Kwest from Philly come through for the last party at Velvet.  Do you have any more special guests scheduled to play this summer?

CJ:  Even before Dave Nada started moombahton I was into futuristic sounding dancehall and tropical and Latin-sounding house.  It had also been about 4 months since Dave stopped Moombahton Mondays, and I didn’t know of anybody else in the city who was playing a lot of moombahton regularly except for Thomas Blondet.  So I got a few friends and decided to do a party.  I figured Billy would be down since he had a bunch of moombahton on the web.  And Billy’s a cool dude.  He got a lot of tattoos and ish.  As for guests, we don’t have anything planned.  We really don’t do much planning.  We’re just trying to have a good time.

CB:  One of my favorite tracks of yours is “Metro Center (Step Back)”.  How’d you get the idea for that tune as well as the rest of the NightVision EP?

CJ:  I always thought the “Step back. Doors closing” announcement on the DC metro would be a good idea to sample.  I don’t know why exactly, I just did.  And a staple of a lot of dance songs is a build up and then a vocal before the beat drops.  So I thought that would be a good way to use it.  As for the rest of NightVision, I made that as a promo for myself. I try to do a small project every month, whether it’s a mix or an EP or a one-off party.  And everybody had been telling me to do an EP since it’s kind of the thing to do.  And I ended up telling people I would but never did.  So I had Metro Center and Keep Your Head…  sitting around, and one night I made NightVision and Ease the Pain and figured people would like those.

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

CJ:  I’m partial to everybody’s stuff that has an authentic feel to it.  Their music sounds like it’s what the hell they do.  Moombahton is only a year old, but Melo and Munchi and the Peligorosa crew sound like they had already been doing it.  They already had roots in dance AND Latin music.  Toy Selectah and those folks had already been doing raverton.  It’s like with anything, the stuff that hits the hardest or has the sexiest rhythms has an authentic feel to it. Even people that were already making Dutch house do it really well.  I can’t even pin down a favorite though. I play a lot of Jon Kwest stuff too. He has a ton of tracks!  And his stuff has its own signature sound to it.  He’s a 90’s era hip hop and dance music head.  Sometimes he’ll use samples that mostly only real hip hop heads would recognize, and his drums are kinda crunchy sounding sometimes.  He even sampled a go-go track!  He used ‘The Water Dance’ in a moombahton track.  I tweeted the hell out of that.  More people should’ve cared.

CB:  What do you think about the current state of moombahton and where it’s headed?

CJ:  Where moombahton is headed I don’t know.  It can go anywhere. It’s only a year old, and there’s such a range of styles.  The Blow Your Head comp had a lot of different styles on it.

As for the state of moombahton, the vibe is nice right now.  It has haters – people that just don’t get it.  They think there’s a fuss over nothing.  And then there are people that are wild about it.  The most random people have come up to me at Tropixxx and say they saw my website.  And I really don’t have much of a web presence.  They were just looking for some moombahton.  The culture of the whole thing is based on tracks flowing through the Internet.  I wish there was more of a real life culture and a few more people in DC with the strength to co-sign moombahton and make a difference.  I’ll tell people about moombahton all day, but they don’t get it until they see Tittsworth play it in front of 200 people.  Then they get it.

Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#1): Billy the Gent

billy

Real talk:  I rarely see this dude without a smile on his face.   BillyBennett, aka Billy the Gent, has a lot to be happy about though.  He just married the love of his life, has a little baby girl on the way, and is totally killin’ it in the moombahton game right now.   You’ve probably seen him around DC, inkin’ up you and your homies at Tattoo Paradise or hanging out at U Hall or DC9.  But hopefully you’ve even seen him playing maestro at the Velvet Lounge.

Billy and Cam Jus join forces once a month at Velvet for their monthly moombahton rager called Tropixxx, and trust me – it’s triple x’d for a reason.  I came through last month for the video shoot for “Pendejas” (the Tittsworth and Alvin Risk collaboration to be released on May 31st via Mad Decent’s Blow Your Head) and it was one of the wildest parties I’ve been to in a minute.  It was a late Sunday night, the forever-dreaded Monday morning was looming on the horizon, and nobody gave a shit.  Seriously, not a single shit.  Tittsworth, Alvin Risk, and some random, victimized barstool were crowd surfing in a room that’s no bigger than your attic.  Big booties were rockin’ everywhere to moombahton classics from Nadastrom, Munchi, Dillon Francis, and more.  Everybody was shakin’ dat ass so right that not a single person in there had a dry forehead.  Even the walls were sweating.  It was only appropriate that they cooled us down with showers of Natty Boh and tequila.  Looking up at times and seeing Billy and Cam orchestrating the madness, I had to ask myself, “Is this real life?”  And indeed it was.  This was all happening in the name of moombahton and it felt so right.

Tropixxx feels like Moombahton Mini, the golden child of Moombahton Massive.  Let’s face it – we can’t have a regular Moombahton Massive because DC might implode from too much bass and we kinda need the Nation’s Capital around to run shit.  But, have no fear – Tropixxx is here!  One Sunday a month, Billy and Cam bring us all together at Velvet so we can get our moombahton fix in the same venue where Dave Nada, the godfather of moombahton, held “Moombahton Mondays”.  Together they have succeeded in keeping the regular celebration of moombahton alive and well in the DMV area.

On an individual level, Billy is constantly evolving as a moombahton producer.  His earlier tracks have this sexy, Latin vibe to them – a classic moombahton feel (see “Sillyana” and “La Mania”).  Some even have a really smooth house groove to them  (see “Home Grown” and “Latin Love Theme”).  But lately, his tracks have taken on more of an aggressive style of moombahton, incorporating elements of dubstep and often treading the line between classic moombahton and its subgenre, moombahcore (see “Munchicore VIP” and “Turn Up the Volume”).  Run through Billy’s SoundCloud and you’ll see he’s got something for every kind of moombahton fan out there.  The man knows how to take care of his people, ya know what I mean?!

Now he’s got something for the hip-hoppers with today’s release of the Vibrate Chick EP, a joint escapade with Virginia’s Long Jawns and Miami’s JWLS.  Imagine some serious crunk vibes and hip-hop vocals layered over moombahton beats.  If you’re imagining something like a Ludacris video with a ton of scantily clad Latinas in 1970 Chevelles with ridiculous hydraulics cruisin’ down U Street…you’re almost there.  But don’t just take my word for it – go check it out for yourself and download the free EP at moombahton.com.  You’ll be handsomely rewarded with Dirty South-meets-moombahton swag.  You’ll need it to complete your summer.  It’s lookin’ to be a hot one.  ;)  And if you like what you hear, check him out at the next Dirty Sweaty Nasty Party on May 13th in Fairfax, VA.

But before you leave me, I want you to get to know Billy on a more personal level.  Seriously, moombahton has recruited a really great dude.  He was awesome enough to answer a few questions for me about the making of the Vibrate Chick EP, the Brotherhood of Moombahton, and one of his best dudes, Dave Nada.

 

Cool Breezy:  First, just for the people who don’t know yet, when did you start DJing and producing and what inspired you to get into the scene?  What were you playing before moombahton?

Billy the Gent:  I started DJing in 2009.  My good friend DJ Tom Lim gave me a few quick turntable lessons about an hour before our first party.  I didn’t really know what I was doing but I knew I wanted to play music.  I threw a couple local parties over the next couple years and I basically learned how to mix tracks by playing live, which if you were at any of those parties, you would know that it was pretty horrible…HA!   Anyways, I made a lot of friends in the DJ community [who] helped me out along the way to try and lock down good mixing techniques and such but I think I will always feel like I could be a better DJ.  I mostly learned how to spin hip-hop and Top 40 tracks, and then moved onto the dubstep scene and now its MOOMBAHTON!

As far as producing goes, I’ve been making music in some way or another since as long as I can remember.  When I lived in Richmond, I played in countless indie bands and punk bands.  I learned to play the drums from my older brother, Champ Bennett (yes, his real name!), when we were kids and since then, I’ve been playing music.   What got me into producing music is more or less the fact that I don’t have time for a band anymore!  Hah.  I work as a full-time tattoo artist at Tattoo Paradise here in DC and it’s a major part of my life.  So because I’m so involved with tattooing, producing music off of my computer gives me the opportunity to make music whenever I feel like – there is no organizing band practices or dealing with the hassle of gear, or anything like that…just me and my studio.

CB:  What was it about moombahton that attracted you to the scene?

BTG:  I got into moombahton via one of my best pals (and creator of moombahton!) DAVID ORLANDO VILLEGAS [aka] Dave Nada.  We all know Dave’s story of how he stumbled onto this whole thing.  But I think I got into it mostly because it was more or less a fresh genre of music.  I really like the tempo and the appeal of moombahton and I think I was drawn to it by the sheer fact that there was hardly any of it around.  I mean, my first moombahton crate had about fifteen tracks in it, so I got inspired to make all these edits and stuff.  But now that the edit game is sorta flooded, I’m working more on making original stuff.

CB:  How did the Tropixxx collaboration with Cam Jus begin and what was it like being a part of Moombahton Massive Tres?

BTG:  It’s kinda funny.  Cam asked me to play this party he was doing, and I didn’t really know much about it.  I just knew I was allowed to play moombahton there, so I said “sure”…and the first one we did popped off really big, so we decided to keep it going.  Since then, every single Tropixxx has been better than the one before it and I can’t wait to see where it goes from here.  We had the Toronto-based duo TORRO TORRO play one of them and the party before last TITTSWORTH and ALVIN RISK filmed the video for their latest moombahton hit “PENDEJAS”.  It’s been great.

Being a part of the Moombahton Massive was amazing.  One of the cool things about this genre is the camaraderie involved in it.  For the most part, everyone is trying to help everyone, whether its sharing tracks, asking for opinions, throwing each other’s tracks on mixes or whatever it is – people are looking out for each other.  A great example of that was the whole reason behind the Moombahton Massive Tres – to help one of my favorite producers, MUNCHI.  As many of you know, Munchi had some health issues while he was traveling and needed money for bills, flights, etc. and when Dave came to me, Cam, Obeyah, Jon Kwest, DJ Ayers, and Uncle Jesse about doing a benefit for him, EVERYONE was down and that’s kinda what I’m saying.  When I was playing in bands and stuff, there was a lot of jealousy and backstabbing, but the dance music scene and in particular, the moombahton scene seems to be very supportive.  It’s really cool.

CB:  Describe the creative process for the Vibrate Chick EP and what was it like working with Long Jawns and JWLS?

BTG:  Ok, Long [Jawns] and I have been linking up and working of tracks for a while now.  We were mostly working on house tracks and stuff like that, but [during] one session we sat down for, Long had played me a moombahton track he had started.  I knew right away we had to finish it – it was really good.   I told him it reminded me of some of the tracks that I’ve heard by this dude named “JWLS” from Miami.  He gave me this look and said, “That’s funny you say that cause it was a big inspiration for this track!”  So we finished that track up and sent it over to JWLS for input and he instantly hit us back and asked if he could do a remix of it…and obviously we said “yes.”   So that explains the first two tracks of this EP.  The third one was a track that I had started working on and sort of hit a brick wall with.  I let it sit for a while and came back to it and realized that I should finish it.  I tested it out at the Massive Tres and it sounded great.  So meanwhile, me, Long and JWLS are sitting on these two tracks (“vibrate/vibrate remix”) and I thought,  “I should just hit JWLS up to help me finish this ‘Chick like me’ track and then we should put all 3 of the songs out as an EP!”   So in some way or another, we all had something to do with all the tracks – it’s pretty cool.   I don’t think many people do stuff like this, especially with moombahton.

CB:  It might be really hard to choose, but who’s your favorite moombahtonista right now and why?

BTG:  Probably Jon Kwest.  That dude puts in a lot of work, always has fresh mixes, tracks, and seems to constantly be trying to push the sound.  I think he probably holds the record for most moombahton songs finished too…hahaha.

CB:  Finally, congratulations on your marriage!  Just curious…did moombahton have a presence during your wedding?

THANKS!   Being married is awesome and believe it or not, my wife’s dad wore his MOOMBAHTON shirt to the wedding under his suit. NO lie. Dave took a picture of it and put it on his twitter, I believe.  It was pretty awesome.

This Thursday We Celebrate ST. U HALL DAY.

uhall(photo by Kyle Gustafson)

It’s time to pay homage to my favorite club in DC.  U Street Music Hall is celebrating its One Year Anniversary this THURSDAY, March 17th!  My friends and I made it out last year for their grand opening party and we’ll be there on Thursday to celebrate its First Birthday.  If you haven’t rolled with us to U Hall yet, here’s the scoop on the venue, followed by a quick Q&A sesh with co-owner, DJ, and producer, WILL EASTMAN.

Technically, U Hall has six owners, but Will Eastman and Tittsworth are the two main dudes and they each have their own monthly dance parties here.  Will Eastman’s Bliss dance party is usually every third or fourth Saturday of the month and Tittsworth’s party is usually around the first Saturday of the month.  On all other nights, they strive to bring you the newest, freshest sounds out of DC and beyond.

U Street Music Hall (or U Hall for short) is not exactly a dive bar but not exactly one of the standard, uppity clubs you find all over DC either.  You almost wouldn’t know it was there unless you were looking for it.  There are no flashy lights outside – just a black canopy with the signature white “U” on it.  That’s all it really needs.  It almost seems to regulate the attendees, weeding out the kids who are just looking for a place to rage from the kids who are coming for a specific purpose.

Some of these higher-scale (read: pretentious) DC clubs will charge a ridiculous cover ($25-$30), make you wait in line outside just so it looks like the club is God’s gift to club-goers and everybody is dying to get in (then you finally make it inside and it’s sparse with dancers), just so you can hear some Top 40 shit they play on the radio.  Oh, and don’t forget the dress code – I dunno, you gotta wear your Sunday Best or something.   Seriously, the most I’ve ever paid to get into U Hall was $10 (admittedly, I would even pay more because I love it that much) and there is no dress code.  Wear whatever the hell you want!  I’ve gone wearing dresses and skirts and I’ve also gone wearing Jordans and a tee.  And they will never make you wait outside if it isn’t necessary.  They’re all about getting you in there to experience all the latest in innovative dance music that they want you to hear.

And boy, they want you to hear it loud.  The only question on U Hall’s FAQ page asks, “Is the sound system at U Street Music Hall really THAT good?  Yes.”  I remember one specific Thursday night at U Hall with the Trouble & Bass crew, Flinch, and Canblaster.  I was coolin’ out with a friend and sitting on the back stage.  All of a sudden, this booming, loud-ass bass rips through my entire body, literally coursing from my toes all the way up to my head.  It was electrifying.  I turned to my friend and all I could say (or more like scream) was “HOLY SHIT.”  It’s crisp, clean, and it really is that loud.  It melts faces.  It moves your insides around, I swear.  It is hands down, the best sound system I’ve ever heard.  You have to come hear it for yourself.  It’s an epic experience to be had.  Check this video, which displays what the sound is truly capable of.  SPOILER:  It literally rips paper and moves water.  Serious.

U Hall is so hospitable to its patrons, always taking care of us the best way they know how.  The drinks are moderately priced, around $4 for a beer and up to $8 for a mixed drink.  And with Tittsworth being the adventurous eater he is, it doesn’t come as a surprise that U Hall opened a kitchen for its hungry dancers and inebriates, serving exotic twists on traditional street food.  It’s a small menu, ranging from the classic grilled cheese on Texas toast to Blisspop Bratwurst (Bratwurst stuffed with raspberry preserves, Swiss cheese, and hot sauce) to the infamous Pho Dog (an all-beef hot dog simmered in tasty pho broth, topped with bahn mi slaw, fresh cilantro, thai basil, hoisin sauce, and sriracha).  Yummy, right?

Here’s a quick rundown of the basics:

  • Located at 1115 U Street NW between 11th and 12th Sts; 300-person capacity, 1200 ft. hardwood dance floor over a cork cushion (they’re lookin’ out for your jointz), and 20,000-watt sound system.  Two fully stocked bars (one near the entrance and one perpendicular to the DJ booth).  There’s also a cheap coat check for the cold winter months.
  • Some live bands have performed here (Ninja Sonik, OFWGKTA, Holy Ghost!) but U Hall primarily caters to the hip-hop and dance music crowd.  Live shows happen early from 7-11pm and DJ party nights happen from 10-2 on weeknights and 10-3 on weekends.
  • They recently changed their 18-and-over policy due to some douche-baggery, but it’s something that needed to happen.  Basically, if you’re between 18-20 years old, you need to pre-purchase your tickets before the night of the event.

So anyway, I chatted with WILL EASTMAN and here’s what he had to say about keepin’ it real at U Hall, bringing you the newest sounds, and moshing to Nadastrom:

Cool Breezy:  Opening a club is such an ambitious endeavor.  What were the beginnings of U Hall like?  Where did the inspiration come from?

Will Eastman:  We wanted to create a space that would be our ideal spot to DJ and hang out. We spent a lot of time talking about the details, and still do. It’s a work in progress. Our inspiration came from playing at a lot of different clubs and keeping a mental check list of things we liked and disliked.

CB:  What has been one of your greatest challenges with running the club in the past year?

WE:  Definitely finding time to respond to all the inquiries I receive from people whowant to play at the club. As a DJ, I’ve long liked to listen to every bit of music I receive. I’ve discovered some real gems that way. I still take time to listen to musicpeople send me, but it’s getting harder and harder to find time for all of it.

CB:  What do you think contributes to the success that U Hall has experienced so far?

WE:  I think the number one thing is the tremendous support we’ve received from DC music fans and the electronic music community. We’re extremely grateful. Wecouldn’t have imagined any of this when we were planning U Hall.

From a booking and operations stand point, I think the thing that contributesmost to our success is that our core team of owners and staff spends a lot of timetalking about and considering ideas for the club. And when we’re done we start allover again the next day. It’s like becoming a good DJ. One spends 1,000 hourspreparing for every minute in front of a crowd. It takes time and preparation.

CB:  Just this year you’ve had some pretty big events so far.  Moombahton Massive 2 was in January, Odd Future came through in February, Nadastrom is spinning at your one-year party, and you just booked A-Trak for April.  Yall are doin’ big thangz!  What’s next?  What do you see U Hall doing a year from now?

WE:  Nadastrom are good friends and we’re fortunate to have them as residents at theclub. They’re welcomed to play whenever they want. There was no way to predictsome of the shows we’ve been fortunate to host over the past year. I’m still amazed to think Dimitri from Paris, Derrick Carter, Arthur Baker, Michael Mayer,Jellybean Benitez, Francois K, Simian Mobile Disco, and Afrika Bambaataa haveplayed the club. I hope we can host even more in the coming year and be thespot where next year’s heroes played their first DC show. That’s what it’s allabout. Supporting new, forward-thinking music.

CB:  I know I’ve had a ton of CRAZY nights at U Hall this year.  Wanna share any memorable moments of your own?

WE:  Oh damn, there have been a LOT. The look on the Aeroplane guy’s faces whenthey turned up the bass our opening night. Breaking my toe at the soft openingmoshing to Nadastrom. Michael Mayer giving me a hug after his performance.He’s German. They don’t hug a lot. Classixx dropping DC Go-Go. The MartinBrothers completely blowing my mind with their set. Getting schooled on amazingold house stories by Sam Burns and Jellybean Benitez. Tittsworth dumping a hugebirthday cake on me on my birthday and me DJing with frosting all over my handsand face. Pantha Du Prince performing in a monk’s hood. Trouble Funk’s specialsecret show. Dancing like crazy about 100 nights.

Thanks, DC!

If you wanna make it out celebrate to their One-Year-Anniversary Party this Thursday, March 17th, you missed the deadline for the RSVP for free admission, but come anyway!!  It’s only $10 and they’ll be serving free Natty Bohs from 9-10PM.  Nadastrom, Jesse Rose, and Justin Martin will be running the party.  I’ll be there all night so hopefully I’ll see yall there! :)