Monday, October 1, 2012

Dominican Profile of the Week: DJs Selektor Siete, Dubforone and Medio Picky

Wow! I have not done one of these in a while. I looked back and I was like, "Damn! Really? Maria Montéz and I scrammed on y'all?"

That's not cute.

I call this my Dominican Profile of the Week, but really it should be called Dominican Profile of a Few Random Months Later. hahahaha

But, well anyway.

I'm totally excited about this profile today, because just as important as it is to note the Dominican icons of this island's history, it is valid, as well, to note all of the current talented Dominicans making their mark right as we speak-- breaking boundaries and making names for themselves as trend-setters, music-makers, poets, actors, painters and all around "outside-the-box-thinkin'" artists and innovators.

Today, let's talk, one of my favorite kinds of innovator slash music-maker: The DJ.

The DJ is a curious artist. But an artist non-the-less. 
Arguably the most controversial of all artists because they carry on the essence of recycled art (which people seem to still be on the fence about) -- they use, re-use, remix, display and project versions of art that were already created. 

Some may say DJs are like the Andy Warhols of musicians --- one asks themselves: "What is it that you're doing, exactly? Why is this art, again?"

"If I play my music at a party, fade in and then fade out....aren't I a DJ? Does that make me an artist?"

It's a conflicting concept, to recognize a turntable as an instrument. What seems like just a press at a "play" button is often perceived as a ridiculous excuse for a hobby. Some people just simply don't get it.

But what I say to that, is: 


You don't have to understand the art of dj-ing; you just have to try to glance a little closer, and appreciate what you are witnessing. 

The DJ is a hybrid artist. 

He is the researcher (like a dramaturge in a play), he is a mixer (like a music producer or composer or video editor), he is an instrumentalist scratching away at an old LP (like a guitar player or pianist), he is the mounter (like a production assistant), he is a sound technician, he combines the look and structure (like a designer or a painter), he is the director (like Alfred Hitchcock), he is the one who maps out the story of your night and takes you on a journey (like the poet, the playwright or the novelist).

The DJ does it all, and in my opinion, he is the most fascinating creature on earth. 

What's furthermore fascinating to me as a subject is this idea of the DJ based in a transnational culture like, for instance, in the Dominican Republic. 

Where old-fashion concepts of pairs dancing to merengue, salsa and bachata rule: a choice few DJs decide to explore new steps for you to groove to: like giggin' to old-school hip hop. The DJ shows you how to jump around like a mad person to house or techno, head twisting and arms raised to dubstep and moombahtone (spelled wrong? haha), indie rock fused with dance, shaking your butt like a horny freak to old school reggaeton and dembow -- They have shut down the norms, and brought a little bit of every culture out there for you to experience right here; here on this little island with what seems to have, four open windows which look out to the world around it, allowing you to take bits and pieces of it with you.

In this case, it sort of makes the Dominican DJ: the Ambassador of Transnational Culture ;-)

haha you like that, right? ;-)

The DJ in Santo Domingo? He has unwittingly created a world for those of us who want to escape. He determines the adventure of our night, he takes us on a journey that never, for one second, involves any concept of reality.

He is a magician, a creator of fantasies and of all things dance. I heard in a song once....the DJ "saved my life". Truer words have never been spoken. ;-)

If I could, I would profile here ALL OF THE DJS in the city of Santo Domingo! But there are more than you could imagine, and all so very talented, it would be hard to do it in one little post! 

But, so, for the sake of this profile of the week, I wanted to focus on three very talented DJs based here in Santo Domingo, that just happen to be my personal favorites: DJ SELEKTOR SIETE, DJ DUBFORONE and DJ MEDIOPICKY. <3

Let's get to know them, shall we? ;-)


"[Music] can make us dance - which is like our body's way of laughing"

What can I say about this guy? I mean, I could say a lot. But what I mean to ask is, how do I start? Where do I begin?

The first time I discovered DJ Selektor, I think I just happened to be at one of his venues in a bar called Cinema Café here in the city. He was playing with artist Valentine. I had no idea who they were at the time, but it was great! I remember Valentine had on a neon-colored jacket. They were just super cool and it was a lot of fun.

I remember looking up DJ Selektor Siete on youtube after the fact and loving his combination of tracks, scratch and live drums!

He is truly unique!

His style is funky, definitely fusion and pumped with a lot of energy to last you the whole set through!

Here's what he had to say about music, inspiration and where he got started:

Where are you from?

I was born in San Pedro de Macoris, a city in the east of the Dominican Republic, but my parents moved soon after to the city of San Cristobal, which is located south of the island. There I was raised and lived up until just recently. 

When did you start feeling a connection with music?

A very special moment in my life was when I was 13 years old and I formed my first band. That's when I felt a real responsibility to music. You know, I was making music that the public was going to hear. I think that after that moment, I made a real commitment to music and I learned what it meant to be dedicated to putting out good stuff -- music outside of the realm of "charlatanería" or cheesy stuff that the "come-and-go" trendy music in popular culture usually has to offer. 

When did you start integrating scratch and drums into what you do?

Well, before I was a DJ, I was a drummer. Once I discovered the world of Hip Hop, I became just fascinated with the way that they played with tempo and turn-tables. I felt I could utilize and fuse everything that I learned, with percussion and turntables together. Luckily I was able to find a turntable amongst a mountain of old devices my father had stored over the years. That's how the story more or less began.  

What is your favorite genre of music?

Music is a genre. That's my favorite. Truthfully, I love it all- - well, actually all except tex-mex. Hahahahah. But if we are talking sounds specifically, I am inclined to listen to urban and fusion. I also like the latino sound.

What do you want to do with your music in the future?

I want to keep working and putting in my little grains of sand so that the barriers, molds and/or musical stereotypes can keep breaking. 

How would you describe yourself as a DJ?

While performing live, I can go from simply mixing some tracks to even producing music live and be like a "one-man-band" hahahahaha, did I take it too far? hahahaha

What is the importance of music? Why does it exist?

I think the question shouldn't be "why" does it exist, but rather, "for what purpose"? Music is a divine gift. Some have the capacity to recreate it or interpret it, others have the capacity to enjoy it and denounce it. In my opinion, it's here as a gift from the Lord. Music helps us connect with one another and with ourselves and with our spiritual side. It also helps us disconnect from our everyday lives. Whenever we pick the right music for the moment, it can make us dance - which is like our body's way of laughing -- and it can make us meditate, reflect, enjoy ourselves, and it also knows how to be there for us when we are suffering.


DJ Selektor Siete is a humble guy who knows what he looks for and has a passion to create! 

Check out some more videos here and his band Matrimonio de Tres and their first song, "Café" online! :-)

Follow him on TWITTER and FACEBOOK! :-)


"If people really realized how valuable music was in curing [pain], a lot of the problems in this world would have a solution"

This philly-beard rockin', corky- T-shirt wearin' marketing and publicity major from Apec University (Universidad APEC) and freelance PA, knows how to multi-task better than the best of them.

DJ Dubforone (that's right people, Dub-For-One), one for dub hahaha, is a unique DJ due to his fusion of modern sounds and nostalgic numbers.

His music is feel-good and in his sets you'll be sure to hear some of that house/dance beat, some dub-step and moombah tone (again I am spelling this wrong...I am sure), but with him you'll rarely get a Top 40 hit- or the latest Adele or Rihanna track with a boom-chicka-boom-chicka-boom boom beat in the backround.

Nah. That's ain't really this dude's style.

He doesn't seem to be interested in bringing that to you on the dance floor. He's going to find a different way to make you groove-- bringing back the classics like Earth Wind and Fire, Funkadelic, Barry White, The Bee Gees, Sade -- take you to throwbacks with De La Soul, Salt N' Peppa, Daddy Kane and Ice-Cube.

His collection of vinyls from all over is ever-growing, and he never hesitates to play them right on the turntables for you while he's performing. They are an integral part of his performance. 

He taught himself how to scratch on a vinyl and continues to practice; dedicated to mastering it. 

This is what he had to say in our mini-interview:

When did you fall in love with music?

I remember when I turned six, my dad gave me a walkman with a cassette by "Sandy y Papo". 

In that time they were all the rage! I remember also loving to fast-forward and rewind the songs. I also liked recording songs on my dad's cassettes. Right around that time, I thought that it would be cool to have all of my dad's records with a piece of the songs that I liked, and interlace them somehow. Later I played as a base guitarist in experimental rock bands around 2007-2008.

Why did you decide to learn to scratch?

I decided to learn to scratch from the moment I started to take interest in those live performances and how it was, to talk and communicate through the turn tables. I also watched old school scratching and those shows live, and it always made me want to make that little strange sound they made with a record.

Your inspiration?

I am inspired by maintaining a knowledge about, and always re-discovering, the soundtracks of our past; to get to know, a little bit about who was making music back in the day.

My favorite DJs are Nujabes and Craze.

Favorite genre?

Funk, Funky Hip Hop, House and Jazz.

Why does music exist, in your opinion?

Music exists in order to make our souls happy. It's the best remedy for sadness and pain. If people really realized how valuable music was in curing this, a lot of the problems in this world would have a solution. 


He plays his set on USTREAM often so check it out HERE ON THIS USTREAM CHANNEL.

He usually can be found playing at different venues all around the city, from Gustavo Live Pub, Espiral Bar, Cinema Café, on the radio and at several community events and artistic collaboratives through-out the year. 

He loves what he does and he does it because he loves it. 

DJ Dubforone just knows good music. And it's quite a treat, when he shares what he knows, with you. ;-)


"Evolution is a beautiful thing. :)"

Even though some may have much facility in calling this quiet yet explosive talent, Pablo; most still just opt to call him, Picky ;-)

DJ Mediopicky is a popular young DJ in Santo Domingo. He plays in many venues in the city, but you can find him every Thursday night at Onno's Bar in La Zona Colonial, playing the best in Hip Hop, Reggae, Reggaeton and Hits. 

If you choose to party with DJ Mediopicky, you're probably in for a night of non-stop dancing, hints of some classics in Hip Hop and Reggaeton that will make you scream, "Aw man! I love that song! I remember that song! Those were the good ol' days"

Truly a little master in mixing, DJ Mediopicky never gives you the same thing twice. He is electic, but focused, he is energetic but doesn't spend too much time playing only Top 40, he's just awesomeness, personified in a cool cat with thick black-rimmed glasses and headphones hugged around his neck. 

Personally if someone tells me DJ Mediopicky is playing anywhere, I'll go. 
I won't even hesitate.

For lack of a better way of describing his music style: he is just fucking fun. His sets are fun as shit, high energy, non-stop-dance.

Love me some DJ MedioPicky. 

He was gracious enough to entertain some of my wanna-be-journalist or wanna-be-Angie-Martinez questions while I was online chatting with him today. 

Here's what he said:  

When did you fall in love with music? (You know I wanted to be on some, "Brown Sugar"-- 'When did you fall in love with Hip Hop'? hahahah...I'm so original)

In '96 I began to be more curious about the music I was listening to. I listened to a lot of pop music in Spanish and later started listening to pop in English- but, you know, that just wasn't enough for me. So I started listening to other genres: rap, rock and really anything that I could get my hands on and manage to put in my cassette player or listen to from my walkman.

When did you start mixin'?

I decided to learn how to mix music because I really didn't have the time to learn how to play an instrument, you know, full-on. I did take drum lessons and I tried to play a little guitar, but I never could seem to finish!

In 2008, a few of my friends had a party and the DJ they were planning to have play that night, couldn't make it! So, with a computer program called "mixmaster" I started to improvise a little on the spot and ended up playing at the party that night. I mean, of course it was kind of shitty, I'm sure, but it was my first time, and it was a lot of fun for me, actually.

What is your inspiration?

I would say, probably everything. Movies are my inspiration, music, what I see in my everyday life. If I could choose a DJ as my inspiration I would say, Diplo. He is a producer and DJ from the United States. It's incredible what he does. 

What do you want to do with your music in the future?

Wow. I want to do everything. I just don't see myself doing the same thing. I would like to try to innovate and invent sounds. Evolution is a beautiful thing. :)

In your opinion, what is the purpose of music? Why does it exist?

Ufff...Music exists to transmit emotions. If you're happy, sad or whatever, you can transmit those emotional states of mind through music, without even the need really for words.


Let me leave you guys with some of his mixes posted on soundcloud so you can get an idea of what DJ Mediopicky can do when mixing and producing music.

Like what he says about evolution, it's a beautiful thing. ;-)
Check him out on twitter, facebook and his podcast on itunes: mediopicky!!!!

Do it! :-)

Midnight City (Mediopicky Bootleg Remix)

Poolpo- Los Villanos (Mediopicky Dubstep Remix)

MedioPicky Feat Acentoh - Random (Preview)

In short:
DJs are the shit.
DJs make me dance. They make me bump my head back and fourth and sometimes inspire in me, the electric slide: no matter what the beat is.  

And, sometimes, on a very lucky night, when you decide to walk up to their booth, with a smile on your face, cold Presidente beer in hand, sweating tendrils across your forehead, screaming over the music, you will get a chance to even speak to them. Maybe you'll even request a song. 

You think they don't hear you, but a few tracks later, you'll hear that song you requested blasting from the speakers. 

They snuck that song in there set, just for you -- allowing you to know: they're there for you, and that their art involves you, just as much as it involves them.

Thank goodness for the DJS.

That's all for now.

Un Abrazo

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