April 17, 2009. It was Capitol Hill Day at KEXP. Capitol Hill was the Seattle neighborhood who gave the most during the pledge drive, winning our “hood-to-hood challenge.” The prize was us. The KEXP gang: DJs, staff, volunteers and listeners took to the streets. We invaded the clubs, sidewalks and cafes on the hill for the whole day. John, Cheryl and Kevin broadcast their daytime shows live from Caffé Vita and then a bunch of other DJs took over the happy hour music slots at local bars. The night ended in concerts at Capitol Hill clubs with KEXP bands.
I only had a few hours to contribute before my Friday night radio show “Nite Life” started, so I was ready to spin a set at the crowded Moe bar. When I got there my friend (and one of my favorite DJs) Larry Rose was spinning his trax from a laptop. There were two turntables but only one CD player.
I was in trouble. My cases full of CDs were no good unless I had 2 players. I don’t think a bar full of people would have loved the big gaps between songs as I loaded them into the lone player. What to do?
Luckily I had gotten an awesome parking space (I have the best parking karma, it’s pretty unbelievable) and I pulled my Diplo FabricLive.24 CD out. My friend (and former student at the Art Institute), now co-worker at KEXP, Kevin Helfrick had given it to me, and I’d been making a fool of myself all over town car-dancing and singing to it. It’s amazing. Intoxicating. Undeniable. (BTW, I think being a fool is totally underrated.)
So I put it on. It’s a mixtape CD so there are no gaps between songs. And wouldn’t you know every couple of songs someone in the bar wanted to know “What is this?”
And when the Yaz remix of “Midnight” came on, the bartender stopped what she was doing to tell me she loved me. What she didn’t know is that it is Diplo that she loves…
Diplo is Wes Pentz. He’s a former schoolteacher from Philadelphia, now a world-trotting DJ who specializes in hip-hop, crunk, dirty South and Miami bass. Like many of his releases, this Fabric collection is heavy on Baile funk, a mix of dance beats and Brazilian native music.
Fabric is a nightclub in the North of London. It opened in 1999 and is one of the hottest spots in the UK and is thought to be one of the top dance clubs in the world. Fabric has a vibrating dance floor they call “bodysonic”, where “Sections of the floors are attached to 400 bass transducers emitting bass frequencies of the music being played, allowing clubbers to feel the music through bass frequencies transmitted into their skeletons via their feet.”
Now THAT’s a serious dance club.
Since 2001, Fabric has sported the best up-and-coming DJs. Their CD series put out since that year have been the records to watch in the world’s electronic dance community. The DJs themselves have creative control of the mixes. Other series CDs on Fabric are by: Spank Rock, Herbalizer, Howie B, Bukem, John Peel and many, many others.
So no wonder this worked so well on Capitol Hill Day. The house manager, Eric, eventually saved me with a second CD player and I got to spin some real sets. But I am eternally grateful to Diplo.
Join DJ Michele Myers Fridays at 9pm for Nite Life on KEXP. Every Friday at midnight she does this album spotlight, telling a story and playing 3 songs from the record. Michele also produces KEXP Documentaries and hosts Wake Up Thursdays from 6-9am for KEXP in NYC on Radio New York 91.5FM.