Author: Mariko Powers
“Yo DJ pump this party, Yo DJ pump this party . . .” The force of sound behind the lyrics from the speakers visibly shook the fabric of my clothes with its beat. The pulse of the bass was so strong you could feel it in your chest.
The time was 9:53 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 6, and before KOXY’s DJ Showcase and dance had even begun, several noise complaints were in. These students could work a beat, and had reason to turn it up.
The showcase featured DJs MARKI (a dual set of DJ Avedon & DJ Concrete) and DJ HipHopHorHay in Sycamore Glen spinning mini-mixes late into the night.
As they moved about their equipment – tweaking sound effects, adjusting monitors and perfecting the details of their set-up – their breath condensed in a fog- tinted neon with green and red accent lights.
Music major Ryan Seong (junior) (a.k.a. DJ Concrete) and Miles Sherman (junior) (a.k.a. DJ Avedon) worked the turntables, punctuating the music with pauses, scratches and repeats, navigating the complex display of knobs, switches and lights with deft understanding.
Though the elaborate equipment displays, mixing effects and innumerable lists of songs were entirely unintelligible to me, the DJs expertly melded transitions, layering Michael Jackson with contemporary hip hop and pop music, and songs like “Day N’Nite” and “Do the Stanky Leg” with electro sounds.
Some mixes were primarily instrumental/dub, with a down tempo or low vibe, while others had dancers jumping up and down in the air.
DJ HipHopHorHay, or George McIntire (senior), followed on the digital setup. Sporting an Orlando Magic basketball jersey and sweatband, he moved with the beat around the sound system.
“I don’t know if you can tell – I’m excited,” he smiled. With his left hand, he worked the Mitti controller, pumping up the volume. With his right hand, he flicked across the keyboard of his Mac, working the software program that allowed him to mix different songs and sound effects.
McIntire stated his “spins of choice” are “electro-hop and hip-house music,” a combination of electro and house with synths and beats I found undeniably dance-inducing. He described himself as “very proud” of his work and his “dope jams.” He spent the summer researching songs, downloading maybe 60 songs per day, only to use the perfect seven or eight, mixing acapellas, beats and “just going at it.”
As is proper for any true party, the DJs stocked up on rave trinkets like spiky rubber rings (which flashed in dual colors), balloons, colored silly string and confetti launchers.
They tossed the rings out to eager audience members throughout the night, and the dance floor eventually looked like it was sprinkled with a myriad of pulsing psychedelic fireflies.
KOXY Programming Director Richie DeMaria graced the event in a technicolor raincoat with a woven basket on his head, and DJ Concrete rocked out in a large-billed Goofy hat.
McIntire, also KOXY’s Events Director, became interested in being a DJ in high school but hadn’t had the opportunity to explore the craft.
Through his years at Oxy, McIntire familiarized himself with the concert scene in Los Angeles and saved up to get a turntable, mixers and other equipment essential to being a DJ. Though he practiced scratching on records, he felt he was not progressing in technique, and lessons were expensive.
McIntire subsequently abandoned vinyl DJing, but later discovered his godsend, Abelton, the software program he currently uses to create mixes.
Through trial and error, “on and on and on,” mixing songs together, devising mash-ups and fiddling with effects, he was able to gain confidence with experience. Last year McIntire started playing gigs at Oxy.
However, HorHay says he disliked “having to cater to the crowd,” as drunken partiers would demand that he “play my fucking Britney Spears,” or request songs that couldn’t mix well together. “It was super lame,” he stated. This motivated him to get started with showcases, through which he can DJ independently from the audience.
That night no one seemed to mind that the DJs were calling the shots – dancers bounced up and down to the beat, many soaked in sweat despite the chill November air.
Between the exhilarating bass, colorful outfits, sparkling trinkets and tangible energy, Sycamore Glen was clearly the party to be at last Friday night.
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