Inside the Mind of Bronx Bomber DJ Phresh
Thursday, October 27, 2011 at 03:43 PM | Joonbug
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So you're from the Bronx. You must be a Yankee fan then?

Born and raised! And yes of course I am. It's a mandatory part of South Bronx & New York citizenship.

What's the best thing about spinning in NYC?

The people. 

You started very young. What were your early DJ days like?

Hard. I started when I was 14. I spent most of the first year djing in my bedroom and getting together a decent record collection and better equipment. That's no easy task on NYC Summer Youth checks. After that I just started doing local parties and friends house parties and also pretty much getting my ass handed to me by a couple older djs in battles. At that point no one battled for money or awards it was for "pink slips" (dj gear), a kind of natural selection process I guess. So if you liked your stuff you learned not to lose and if you had equipment you HAD to be good. There also weren't nice banquets or great security staff at these parties, so if something went wrong you and your best 2-3 friends had to grab everything and go. 

After that I started to get better and had a record collecting habit that was hard to keep up with. I'd spend all day on the trains going from further uptown to Music Factory on Fordham road to Beat Street on Fulton in Brooklyn just to get the real versions of my favorite DJs mixtapes and whatever vinyl was new. Well until I figured out that I could get them for free directly from the labels. Which turned me into a familiar face for a lot of labels promotions departments. I'd be lined up with the best of them every thursday/friday outside of their door waiting for records. At the same time I started to intern for a label as well. 

What was your first setup like? Have you always been into open format or did you sway towards more specific genres in the beginning?

My first DJ setup was hardly a setup I just had one belt driven Gemini BD-10 that I plugged into my parents stereo just to hear myself scratch. Afterward I got the other BD10 and a Gemini Scratchmaster mixer and like a 12 or 24 second sampler. 
As far as music goes, I was big on hip-hop culture, which wasn't necessarily just rap music. When I was really young, Hot97 was only playing house and freestyle music and Kiss FM was the Rap and R&B station. So I grew up listening to everything from rap, NY, Latin house, and would freestyle to my parents old soul, funk, and disco records; and to the salsa and merengue that my neighbors were blasting at their house parties.  My personal favorite though was hip-hop rap and r&b.
You started out working for Roc-A-Fella Records and were influenced by hip hop in your early days. How do you feel about the recent burst of EDM popularity into the mainstream music scene? What do you think it means for the future of hip hop?

I love EDM (liquid tv and late night old school mtv EDM's biggest fan) and I think its popularity is great, but at the same time EDM has always been huge. It's just recently become an American thing (again?). For some odd reason we tend to only focus on one or two genres at a time in the mainstream market. 

At one point for certain scenes, house and hip hop went together hand in hand and played off of one another because of the similarities in influences and  bpm range. 
I look at them both as distant relatives and when one is overly commercial the other becomes underground and experimental and resets itself for a new wave. 

In the future, I think we're going to see a more mainstream convergence of the two genres. All you really have to do is listen to an open format set in 2011 vs one in 2005 to see that. 

What progression do you think your style will follow?

I've recently been doing a lot more EDM production, but who knows, I'm still digging. 

What are some big musical influences?

Lil Louie Vega, Armand Van Helden, Daft Punk, Stevie Wonder, James Brown,  Calvin Harris, Prince, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Bernard Purdie, El Gran Combo, Masters at Work, Pete Rock, DJ Premiere, ...the list is long.

It looks like you've performed in front of some pretty big names, including Lil Jon, Linsday Lohan, Nikki Hilton and Jay-Z. Got a celebrity crush?

Eh I dunno, but how cute is Michelle Trachtenberg when she's dancing to gangsta rap...;-)
What are some of your favorite venues?

Wall Miami because Nicola always has that place rockin and set it up so it's all about the DJ's performance.

Haze Las Vegas because Light Group knows a thing or two about showmanship and always put on a good show with great artist bookings.
XIX New York because they dare to be different ,have great sound, and Ruben Rivera is one of the last of the Moricans.
Catch New York because the sound is great, the room is very sexy, and has a ton of potential to be different and/or bring back New York's sexy and soulful, rock&soul vibe.
Level2 PA, because their scene is in a part of the country that gets influenced from everywhere and they just want to dance to just about anything that's good no matter what genre it is, but when the EDM comes it gets kinda crazy. 

StudioXXI NYC for hosting the getphresh party which only has one rule - Just Dance.

What are some of your career goals as an artist?

I want to set foot on every continent and rock the party whether it's through my original tracks or DJ sets. I also kinda want to get into movies one day. Maybe change the world for the better in my spare time...
And one last one... is it possible to ever be too Phresh?

If you're not afraid to be who you are and open up yourself to a world of limitless possibilities then...ehh....Nahhhh

You can also check out DJ Fresh on his website, Twitter and Facebook:

DJ Phresh will be spinning at Joonbug's 11th Annual Masquerade Ball on Monday, Oct. 31. Details below:

Tags: yankees, new york, roc-a-fella, In The Booth, dj, interview, phresh