Meet Your Moombahtonistas (#7): Pickster One


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 (#3): Cam Jus


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.