Describe INTL Party, and give a brief background of everyone in the group.
INTL Party is a multi-genre DJ and production crew from the SF Bay Area. We rock parties across the SF Bay Area and U.S., and have official releases out on all major digital outlets including iTunes, Amazon & Beatport.
BEN OFFICIAL is a musical visionary with an incredible ear for music. He is always 6 moves ahead of everyone else when it comes to producing music and DJing.
NOUX is the young gun who we have taken under our wing. He is an exchange student from India and is a classically trained pianist. He is a master of playing and combining chords and progressions.
AUDIO1. I am a BBOY deep down, and lover of music across the board. I was raised as a kid on Mexican, Central American and Caribbean music alongside classic rock, funk and soul. In 1988, I discovered hip-hop. In 1992, I discovered the RAVE. I have never looked back.
As INTL Party, we combine all these forces and influence to create unique, forward-thinking electronic music.
How often do you all get to perform together as INTL Party, and does INTL Party ever put on any 2×4 (or 3×6) sets?
Ben and I DJ together very often. We recently did our first INTL Party 2×4 set with Ben, Noux and I for the Universal Zulu Nation 42nd anniversary party in San Jose. It was a great experience. We played numerous styles, live acapellas, turntablism, live improvisation and kept the BBOY circle lit the entire time.
In the future, we want to implement live PA elements, such as MPC, keyboards and live drums. We will see what pans out. Keys N Krates and Rudimental are definitely inspirations for the live show element.
What was your very first DJ set-up, and what set-up are you on now?
In 1991, It was a Fisher Stereo system with a belt-drive turntable on top and 2 realistic tape decks with pitch control. In time I purchased 2 Technics 1200s, a Gemini Scratchmaster mixer and a Tascam 424 Multi-Track. To this day, I continue to use the same Technics 1200s along with a Rane battle mixer.
Speaking of battle mixers, you just competed in a DJ battle at The Sayers Club in Las Vegas a few weeks ago (late-October, 2015). What did you learn from this battle?
This was my first DJ competition in 10 years. I ended up placing 3rd, which surprised even me. I learned that it is a lot more tedious to put ideas together that make sense on the dancefloor. In this battle, I wanted to flex a bit of turntablism but in a club setting. It usually goes over people’s heads, so I got real creative with wordplay and themes. The sky’s the limit, but it’s you putting everything on the line for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Which battle are you preparing for next?
I’m honestly waiting to see if Red Bull Thre3style will be opening up competition to the public for the United States. I can honestly say that watching my friend J. Espinosa win the U.S. finals and #2 in the world finals really inspired me to give battling and competitions another go. I have been practicing a lot more than before in my spare time. I’ve been working on incorporating more turntablism into my club DJ sets, creative word play, themes, multi-genre mixing. I’m trying to keep the creativity to the max. Only time will tell. I definitely look forward to competing in more battles and mix-offs in the near future if the opportunities present themselves.
Regarding the change in DJ technology over the past 20 years, what do you think of all the new software and hardware coming out now, and how can DJs stay true to the art form while still integrating new technology?
Its great. Never in my life would I have thought any of this technology would exist. I will admit that as a hip-hop head for years, I was very skeptical of CDJs and DVS systems. Around 2004, I got smart and ditched the analog only mentality and began using MP3s, CDs and eventually bought an Apple iBook G4 and Serato ScratchLive. I was at a point where buying doubles of vinyl was too expensive, but also a lot of the music I was listening to wasn’t available in any other format. It greatly enhanced my career and the places it has taken me in the past decade.
In the past, you only had turntables or table top CD set-ups. Now, you have turntables of all types, CDJs, controllers, Serato DJ, Traktor, RekordBox, etc. You can DJ nowadays with a flash drive. The sky is the limit really. DJs should never stop learning. Young and old, veterans or new to the game. Never stop learning. If you started a year ago on a controller, learn how to use Technics 1200s. If you are a veteran with decades on Technics 1200s, learn how to use controllers or new DVS systems. In the end, we know what format fits our taste best. There is so much to learn. DJs should strive to learn something new every day.
Just for kicks, do you have any old mixes you’ve recorded on vinyl? If so, can you make them available?
What’s the importance of staying relevant?
Staying relevant can make or break our career as a DJ. You need to keep your eyes and ears peeled to the streets, know what is hot, what the trends are, be on top of any and all new music. I see a lot of DJs ignore social media, and I believe in this day and age, it is the most important tool in the arsenal. Stay active on social media. Engage with DJs, producers and your audience. The people who come out to your events. Stay in contact with the people who book clubs and shows you want to play at. You never know who may be booking you in the future. Put on your own events. Take a gamble. You never know what opportunities that will lead to. Put in hard work.
You’re known for sending out DJ edits often. How has sending out edits made a difference in your DJ career? What sort of doors has it opened for you?
At first, I was following the lead of my friend DJ Greg J, who at the time was one of the biggest DJs/producers from the Crooklyn Clan crew. He told me that making edits, bootlegs and remixes was one of the ways to set yourself apart from the other DJs. You are playing versions of songs no one else has. As we know, everyone downloads all their music from the same sources, so sounding unique can help. From 2007 to the present, I have shared my edits and music to a worldwide audience of DJs via message boards, chat rooms and direct contact. The edits in many ways helped grow my name and reach. It has opened a lot of opportunities for me, including working on the radio, getting booked at clubs across the United States, and forging relationships with DJs and producers across the globe. Diplo and Vice are two DJs I look up to, and it is very humbling that they drop my DJ edits consistently in their sets.
Where are all the places your edits can be found, old and new, and how can DJs sign up for your email blasts?
My edits and music can be found on Late Night Record Pool, Beat Junkies, DMS, MyMP3Pool, MixshowTools and many more. DJs can email me directly and ask to sign up. In 2016, I hope I can relaunch my website, and have a form or something easier for signing up. One of my mottos is “Sharing Is Caring.” Whatever I can do to help DJs out.
How can creating DJ edits make a difference in another DJ’s career? What’s your take on DJs moving into production?
Edits, in my opinion, make a DJs life a lot easier. These are versions of tracks that are ready to play. Being a DJ is time consuming. Finding the right music is even more time consuming. Edits should alleviate and help DJs out with what is hot and necessary for club and radio play.
I love that more DJs are moving into production. I believe all DJs should producer their own
music eventually. Many of us have hit the ceiling with DJing alone. Production and remix work is the next step up to better events, better pay, travel, festivals, whatever you want to achieve.
In my future, I see myself playing at festivals around the world. That would be a dream come true. I have original music out and I will work every day toward my long-term goals and success in the music industry.
Who are some of your role-models who are already playing festivals, other bigger events, traveling, etc?
Craze, Jazzy Jeff, Shortkut, Vice, Diplo, Laidback Luke, MAKJ… These fellas right here embody the DJ spirit and travel the world getting paid top dollar to play their favorite music. I would love to spend a week with any of these cats and experience their life, their world, the mindset that goes into living the globetrotting DJ life. I know most of them travel with a team. It would be awesome to one day travel the world with my closest homies and headlining shows.
What equipment do you use to create your edits and original productions?
My current setup is a MacBook Pro running Ableton 9 and an Oxygen 8 synth. I also have a Windows-based box running PC applications, such as Acid Pro and Sound Forge that I use to finalize and master my work.
If you have a decent laptop and a good DAW, it is a great start. You can learn how to produce by asking friends, watching YouTube tutorials (there are tons out there) or taking a production class at your favorite music production school.
From your perspective, where is the DJ culture at right now, and what is one or two actions every DJ can take to make the DJ culture better?
The DJ culture is at a crossroads between the past and the future. I have a strong belief that one should RESPECT THE PAST and EMBRACE THE FUTURE. Meaning that the younger folks in the music game should have respect for those who paved the way for them, and for the older folks to embrace the youth, the future, and technological advances that are happening. As a 36 year old DJ and producer, I am caught up between the vets and the new generations. I see and hear it all the time, “The young dudes haven’t paid any dues like we did. They didn’t carry crates of records…” or “F*&# these older dudes. They always hating on us for being better than them.” I believe we can find a middle ground where everyone can support each other.
2 things that every DJ can do is to NEVER STOP LEARNING, and despite all the technological advances in DJ technology, MUSIC SHALL ALWAYS COME FIRST.
Lastly, can you give some guidance on how to become confident as a DJ? It doesn’t matter if it’s a DJ transitioning from the bedroom to the club, or an established DJ attempting to transition into radio or festivals. How do you think one can become more confident moving to the next level?
Confidence comes from within. Take a look at the people who inspire you and take a page from their book. I don’t mean to bite their style but simply apply qualities you see from them into what you do. You truly have to believe in yourself, your product, your brand, your music. The moment you begin to doubt yourself, it blocks forward progress. Trust. I am a local DJ from the SF Bay Area trying to break out and make a name for myself across North America and the world via my music and mixing. One party at a time. I will get there one day.
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