DJ Sun: Houston’s Rising Star
How has your radio show helped you expand and foster your career?
It’s a definite boost when you’re able to get on a public radio station that’s quite popular in the community that broadcasts at 100,000 watts, that reaches the suburbs of Houston and beyond. It definitely helped establish myself within the community of Houston. It took some time, because I basically set out to represent a specific aesthetic and I didn’t veer from that and it’s the same thing I do with my DJ-ing. I would get fired from a number of gigs in the first 3 or 4 years because the club owner would come to me and say, “I really need you to play Cher in this mix.” And I would say, “I can’t do that.”
You wanted to stay true to your tradition and culture; and the music you wanted to play.
If you’re representing something that you don’t believe in, you’re not going to sustain yourself for 20 years. Tonight, I’m packing up records for my Thursday night gig, and Saturday, I’m opening for Bebel Gilberto and another gig Sunday and another one Monday and I can easily go to those gigs because the music will represent what I’m doing and that’s 20 years after I started. I think there’s a certain amount of power in that. It’s self-empowerment and it’s really nice and humbling to get the respect of the Houston community after 20 years and for people to say, “I used to listen to your show back in the day and you’re still doing it. It sounds the way you meant it to be.”
I’ve read that you’ve become a cornerstone of the Houston music community. Wondering if you can talk about that.
I think what’s being commented on is that I’ve been here doing my thing consistently; working week in and week out. I’m averaging four to five nights a week as a DJ. I really aspire to become the cornerstone of the community and I see what needs to happen is still a few years away and I hope that I’m at the genesis of this. In a way, the Houston music community is somewhat fractured (because of Houston’s vast physical landscape) and what I strive to do with this record and just through action is to bring this community a little bit closer together, so we have more of an identity. We need to form our identity and I’m hoping I’m at the genesis of this. People know the Paul Wall, the Southern rap and Clint Black of Houston but there’s more to Houston than that. There are so many talented bands and jazz musicians here in Houston but everyone feels like they have to go to LA or NY. I would like to become the beacon who can say, “You don’t need to go to the coasts. Let’s build our own infrastructure here in Houston and support each other regardless of genre.”
How would you describe your DJ style?
I consider myself fairly skillful, but I do it in a functional way. I want the presentation to be just right in terms of where to take the listener and I like to keep a thread going. I like to tell stories in my set. I like playing different styles of music even in one set, but I want you to be able to walk along this with me. For instance, I’m not going to do something at 88 beats per minute (BPM) and in 5 minutes be at 128 BPM because that just doesn’t match. I could get you to 128 BPM but something is going to be happening in between. From 88 BPM, we could go to a groove that goes into classic old-school hip-hop, then we could go into something more soulful from 70s, and now we’re at 110 BPM and before you know it, we’re there.
Can you give me your opinions on two DJs, who are popular with our readers: DJ Logic and DJ Shadow?
DJ Logic is a personal friend of mine. I’ve been on shows with him. What he’s done in performance and production and working with Medeski Martin and Wood and The Logic Project – people are drawn to that groove that he brings. Those albums were driven by terrific musicianship and he had the foresight to recognize that. I have a lot of respect for what DJ Logic has done. DJ Shadow, I don’t know personally but he’s definitely a hero of mine because of what he’s done: making beats, performing and always staying true to what he wanted to do and never being taken off track. Endtroducing was a groundbreaking album and it paved the way for others.
What made you decide to finally release an album?
I felt like after putting out a couple of EPs ( Monday Drive, Para ) and learning the trade of making a record; I felt like I was ready to do this full-length. Maybe, it’s a bit of overdue and therefore you have 19 tracks on the record. Making an album was always a mission.
Are you going to tour behind this album?
I’m in the process of putting something together right now. We just need to make sure it makes sense. I make a living playing in Houston, so when I get out, it has to make financial sense. The record is getting nice traction all over the country, working on getting out to California in May and in June, I would like go to Washington DC, New York and Philly.