The lights are low, with spotlights glowing left and right while sweaty young things writhe furiously. “This feels like a total rave,” one says. She’s wearing a cut off shirt, and her forehead is sweating. Pretty, with soft cheeks and black eyeliner. Don’t want to know how young she is. The bar is serving Sapporo for $9 and Pabst for $4. The Sapporo gets warm with the humidity of the crowd after five minutes. The stale beer gives a head rush, that fluctuates with the heavy beats blaring out of the massive speakers. Five in a corner. Four corners. Twenty speakers. Twenty very loud speakers, shouting, screaming, not speaking.
The party is for RCRD LBL, but the people aren’t here for them. They’re here for the DJs. Matt Shadetek, CREEP and the main act, Diplo. Shadetek is up first. His pale face illuminated by the blue light of his Macbook. Headphones on top of his New Era cap, which covers his short red hair, but not his short red beard. He wears his label, Dutty Artz, T-shirt. Proclaiming all the music makers they represent. He moves and crouches over the machines bumping along to the heavy bass. He’s having fun. He loves this music. Music in general. You can tell.
After his set ends, CREEP takes the stage, and Shadetek meets his fans. They slap him five. Give him hugs. Ask him about the music. He obliges every request, physical and mental. He appreciates them, this much is clear. Plays for them. This is the manifestation of a truly healthy relationship.
How are you feeling after that set?
I’m great! Living life. Playing music.
What do you look for when you’re playing a set?
I go off the audience within the music that I have and the music I wanna play. Lately I’ve been on a kind of hip-hop and R&B vibe. I wanted to play that stuff, because it’s the new stuff. Fifty percent of what I play is my production, that’s part of it too. I want to play these new tunes I’m making. A lot of them are debuts. I don’t prepare, or plan out an order. It’s really about what feels appropriate at the moment.
Tell me a little about Dutty Artz. You’re one of the founders, right?
Me and DJ Rupture started it in May of 2008. We both had been living in Europe, he was in Barcelona and I was in Berlin. We both moved back to Brooklyn at the same time. We’ve been friends for a while, so we started making music together and started producing together. We figured we should do something with the music we were producing. We had both been running our own labels for a long time, so we just figured, let’s start a new thing.
What’s new and fresh about Dutty?
It’s kind of the fact that it’s the two of us. We brought in my boy Gecko Jones pretty early. The music we were making was not a super clear fit for some of the existing labels that we knew about. So we did our own thing.
As we’ve walked around the party I’ve noticed a lot of people saying “what up”, slapping you five, hugging you. What percent of those people do you actually know?
What was the party scene like when you first started DJing?
I was playing at frat parties at the art school, Pratt, in Brooklyn. That was probably in 1999 or 2000. I was playing dance hall. My partner Zack would play Miami bass and we’d tag team, that was our thing. They were keg parties. It was a great way to learn how to DJ. Then, at the same time, we were doing weird experimental hip-hop. A bunch of our friends were visual artists. All the friends that grew up with me in New York went to Pratt, so we’d play gallery openings and party functions. It grew from there. We started touring in Europe. We got signed to Warp Records.
What were you like as a DJ back then?
Have you calmed down or gotten more aggressive?
I think lately I’ve calmed down. Lately I’m into more melodic stuff. I definitely still play some aggressive stuff too. It’s all about contrasting flavors. I like smooth shit, but hard rock too. It’s about the different colors.
When you’re out, do you find yourself critiquing DJs?
Sure. I’m not gonna go up to them and be like, “Hey dude, you fucking suck, you really shouldn’t have played that right now. It’s really inappropriate.” My big critique is that I don’t want to listen to one style of music all night. If someone is playing an hour block of genre X, it just kills my brain. I would rather hear someone play awesome and surprising records, than someone who’s a really good DJ. I prefer music over craft. I don’t really give a fuck if you can mix, as long as you’re not fucking it up too bad.
What is the one song you have to play in a set?
The one song is whatever song I finished producing today. I haven’t got a title for the one I produced today. It’s called “Mix Pack 3” or something.
And you teach, right?
Yeah, I teach logic at Dubspot.
How’d you get into that?
A friend was teaching there and I was like, “You’re doing it? I can do it too.” He’s a wizard; I just thought it was a good idea.
How can we access some of your playlists?
Tweet at me. Twitter is the social network I like the best. Low maintenance. Facebook is too much for me.
What are you most excited about with Dutty Artz right now?
My album. It’s coming out soon. The beats are finished, but I need to record some vocals for it.
Last question. List the following in order of highest priority to lowest: Make money get paid. Find ladies, get laid. Get 8-hours of sleep.
“Find ladies” is at the bottom, since I have a girlfriend and two kids. So that’s not even on the list. Fuck my girlfriend, that’s on the list. I guess that’s probably a high priority; gotta keep the wifey happy. Man, you’re fucking me up with that one! Here’s the order: Fucking. Get money. Sleep is last.
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