Story by: SeoulVibes, Photos by:
In an industry filled with greed and vanity, it is rare to see a DJ that is so intact.
Who has influenced your music the most?
Growing up listening to college radio was where I was first exposed to mixing songs. Putting my radio in strange places to catch weak frequency broadcasts from Toronto, I heard DJ X play breaks from classic funk and soul tracks, then he would mix them with contemporary hip hop joints. This was my first “face melt” experience.
What is your definition of DJ?
I think the definition has changed over the years, these days the potential for sound manipulation with digital devices is incredible. I would say anyone that makes a performance of playing recorded music can be considered a “DJ.” The performance aspect is key, and the equipment a DJ chooses to use lends to their stage presence. The job of a DJ however has never changed. DJs put the crowd on to good music, not vice versa. J-Live coined the phrase “real DJs don’t take requests.” People go see a DJ perform because they trust in their knowledge of good music. If you’re up there taking tips from the dance floor, you fall out of the category that for me defines a DJ.
I got it from my pops. My middle name is Boyd, and my dad used to call me Oilcan as a kid. Dennis “Oil Can” Boyd was an eccentric pitcher who played for the Red Sox and Expos. It is a colloquialism for a can of beer. I guess Dennis and I have a common affinity for the devil’s brew.
Which artist would you love to see play in Korea?
There are too many to count. Sadly, so many artists are not booked and don’t stop to play in Seoul even though they’re on tour in Asia. Hip hop, as presented to Koreans, is missing a key element commonly referred to as the “underground.” I’d just call it an indie scene. Popular commercial rap music is everywhere, but progressive hip hop is hard to find. I flipped my lid when Samiyam played Seoul, and I’d love to see Flying Lotus or any other artists from the Brainfeeder camp they are an awesome and progressive record label. Other artists like Knxledge, or cats from the Wedidit collective have been on heavy rotation by my yard. I’ve been going through a lot of Cosmo Baker of late, he’s a DJ that has truly inspired me.
How would you define your present style?
Music has changed so much in the past 10 years, and consequently my repertoire has expanded a great deal. I couldn’t say I play any one style at all. I like my music the same as my movies: dark. Generally, I’m a happy go lucky guy, but happy ass music does nothing for me. The music I play inevitably leans toward the dark and funky.
Who are your favorite local DJs?
360 Sounds Crew are hands down my favorite collective of DJs in Seoul. Not confined to any one style, they do it up with flavor and usually on wax, which is rare to see. Every time I see them play I think of all the wax I have in storage abroad. I got to shout out to the Ground Scratch Crew, they also represent the scene well.
What is easier DJing or promoting?
In the words of Eugene Blake, “DJing is a piece of piss.” It is like riding a bike. I don’t get nearly as nervous DJing as I do waiting for people to file into my parties. I think staying original is the easiest way to promote events. If you make your event stand out by filling a gap in the scene and you offer people something they miss, then parties practically promote themselves.
How would you define hip hop?
The four elements: DJing, emceeing, break dancing, and graffiti writing. When you think about it, all four elements are counter-expressions of the status quo. Using your hand on a record, rapping instead of singing, spinning on your head or writing on walls, they all violate our notions of conformity. At its best, I think hip hop celebrates the spirit of the silenced majority, who use it to vocalize their opposition to the institutional oppression in our everyday lives. At its worst it forwards our oppressors agenda.
Which do you prefers CDJs or turntables?
To my own detriment, I’ve always tried to avoid CDJs. I use Serato Scratch Live, but I have come to realize that many of the advantages of using Serato have been available with CDJs for ages. Clubs in Korea almost never have turntables, their DJ booths are rarely big enough for me to fit my decks and if I would stop being such a puritan I would probably have more places to play. Nonetheless, the feel of the records connects me to the crowd and that is essential for me.
What are negatives and positives in the scene?
The stand out positive thing is that 24-7 the sheer number of people looking to have a good time rivals any world metropolis. There are parties every night, not to say that the music at these parties is always good but DJs and promoters have access to a massive market. The biggest problem I find out there is that the audience has no connection to the music they dance to. There are keen and savvy Koreans and a good number of foreigners who know what they like, but typically when it comes to anything unranked or uncharted clubbers don’t have a clue nor could they care less. Additionally, Korea produces technically skilled musicians and performers, but there is a creative void that independent artists typically occupy in other major cities that remains unseen and unheard. Clubs and promoters are partially at fault because they think they know what sells and they don’t take chances with various genres of music.
What is your ideal night of clubbing on the peninsula?
I really don’t go clubbing often. It seems the venues that allow me to play are also places I frequent because the owners know what good music is and they hire DJs who have good taste. In Itaewon, Berlin and Club 52 are two of my go-to spots. You are more likely to catch me at Bar Carmen or Craftworks than at any club.
Do you have any advice for aspiring DJs and promoters?
DJs, practice your craft. Sure, being a good selector is the first step in DJing, but there is so much more one can do than simply select tracks. Turtablism, blending, effects, and sharpening your timing makes the experience much more rich for you, the DJ, and for your listening audience. Promoters, be original. Imitation is the highest form of flattery, unless you’re a promoter Then it’s just theft.
What can we expect from GoodAssMusic and Oilcan?
Personally, I plan to focus on music production and visual arts. As for the company, we are looking forward to collaborating with other promotion companies this year, in order to create more interesting and original events. Whether it is a fundraiser for charity, a funk/rock mashup show, or even a slow dance party with straight 80s soft rock joints — we will be at the forefront of the alternative scene here in Seoul. By the way, I’m a great slow dancer.