#42 - Alter Ego present: DJ Dex / Nomadico (UR)
Following the quick mix hands of Freddy Fresh and full force techno know how of Paul Birken we now find ourselves back in the Motor City hub as EPM team up once again with Detroit’s Alter Ego Management to bring you a UR Assault DJ, DJ Dex (aka Nomadico). Featuring Fela Kuti & Afrika 70, Los Hermanos, The Advent, Carl Taylor, Silent Servant, James Ruskin & Mark Broom, Carl Craig, Juan Atkins, John Tejada & Josh Humphrey, D-Knox, Robert Hood, Timeline, Claude Young, Mike Huckaby, Santiago Salazar, Steve Rachmad, Vince Watson and Dex’s own productions we get a full blodied techno mix with that all important dose of funk and swing as only Dex knows how.
In 2002, Dex journeyed to Detroit and studied techno theory with the Underground Resistance crew. Dex has worked hard in the studio, mixing and editing tracks for UR, Los Hermanos, Orlando Voorn and DJ 3000. His talents behind the turntables have taken him throughout Japan, Europe and South America as a tour DJ and member of UR’s Timeline band. In 2005, Dex was based in Brooklyn, NY while keeping close ties with UR headquarters in Detroit. He’s helped bring UR to NYC’s best techno venues including The Bunker, Club LOVE, NuBlu, APT, Liquid Room (Japan) and 2007’s “The Beach Party” along NYC’s East River. He also has the distinction of being the first member of UR to play in mainland China. Today he has returned to his hometown of Los Angeles where he continues to create and perform.
His talent for mixing all forms of funk, house and techno music has taken him from his hometown of Los Angeles to clubs and festivals in Detroit, Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Madrid, Shanghai, Mexico City, Sao Paulo and all points in between. His studio work has resulted in remixes and original productions for Underground Resistance, Submerge, Los Hermanos, Transmat, Motech, Nublu Records, Compufunk, Revolve:r and ICAN.
Tracklist EPM Podcast 42 – Alter Ego presents DJ Dex
Fela Kuti & Afrika 70 ‘Zombie’ Celluloid
Los Hermanos ‘Freedom’ Underground Resistance *
Nomadico ‘In Your Blood’ Underground Resistance *
The Advent ‘Disco Diva’ H Productions
Carl Taylor ‘Good Vibrations’ EPM Music *
Loud Neighbor ‘New Hope’ (Remute Remix) True Type Tracks
Silent Servant ‘The Strange Attractor’ Hospital Productions
James Ruskin & Mark Broom ‘Black Lines’ Blueprint *
Mike Huckaby ‘Basement Trax’ Tresor
Deception Plan ‘Plan 0 Maskirovka’ Construct Reform
Claude Young ‘Impolite to Refuse’ (Ican Remake) Ican Productions *
Acid Mondays ‘Svenkins’ (DJ Sneak BBQ Beats Mix) Circus Recordings
Paperclip People ‘Jerry Lewis On Acid’ (Mayday Mix) Planet E
Bobby Champs ‘Brooklyn Bomb’ Hypercolour
DJ Dex ‘Guanaco’ Ican Productions *
Juan Atkins ‘Marz’ Scion A/V
John Tejada & Josh Humphrey ‘Unanimous Arc’ Palette Recordings
Nautiluss ‘Zero Gravity’ 3024
Timeline ‘Save The Blue Bird’ Underground Resistance *
Chymera ‘An Island in Space’ (Orlando Voorn remix) Connaisseur Recordings
El Coyote ‘Santisimo’ Ican Productions *
Floorplan ‘Confess’ M-Plant *
Santiago Salazar ‘Carmalized Biotics’ Finale Sessions
D-Knox ‘Think and Grow Rich’ Logos Recordings
Steve Rachmad ‘Astronotes’ (Christian Smith Remix) 100% Pure
Vince Watson ‘When Souls Collide’ EverySoul *
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Q&A with DJ Dex (aka Nomadico)
1. Please give us a quick run through the mix. Why did you choose these particular tracks?
I wanted it to be roller coast ride through the different styles I enjoy playing in a DJ set these days - funky, dark, moody, soulful and a bit jazzy.
2. What were your first experiences of going out to clubs? What were the backyard parties in East LA like? Did techno feature or was it all hip hop and Latin music?
The East L.A. backyard parties were my first introduction to DJ culture and dance music. I was cutting school at 16 or 17 to go to these "ditch parties". Here's a youtube link from the local news back then. In the background you'll hear house, techno, electro and of course Depeche Mode.
It probably wasn't the best way to get introduced because of all the debauchery at such a young age. But L.A. is a big city and kids grow up fast in big cities. There are so many options for getting into trouble and public schools are underfunded with teachers and staff that just can't keep up with kids. This was 20 years ago, so I'm sure it's even harder now!
3. When you made the pilgrimage to Detroit in 2002 and began learning about techno what were the biggest changes and sacrifices you had to make?
I had already been DJing for 10 years when I moved to Detroit. I got into production around 1999 and pressed a couple of tracks to Vinyl in 2001 while still in L.A. So really I was looking to go to the next level. I was no longer interested in just the party scene aspect. I wanted to create music and be in the studio. The biggest adjustment was just staying inside at night and on the weekends. I spent the first 6 months almost exclusively at Submerge and the surrounding neighborhood. I cut myself off from hanging out and it was weird.
4. How were your first adventures in the studio? At what point did you have the confidence to start releasing music?
I started with an MPC2000XL, a Mackie mixer, a Roland XP-10 keyboard, an Ensoniq efx processor and a couple of guitar pedals for some wah and noise efx. At first I recorded straight to DAT, but then got a Mac and started using Pro Tools to record. I was lucky to get some schooling and learned multi-track recording basics and even got my hands on a Moog modular at school for a couple of hours a week one semester. I probably made at least 20 or so tracks before making the 2 that were released on Phases 001 with Santiago Salazar in 2001. BUT, I was already a huge fan of Detroit Techno, so once I got to Detroit, I stopped trying to finish my own music for a while and just absorbed what I could from the people that were around me; Mike Banks, Gerald Mitchell, DJ Rolando, Ray Merriweathers Jr. aka Unknown Soldier, Orlando Voorn, DJ 3000, Mr. De' and Santiago Salazar. Once I dove back into producing my own music again the results came out through Submerge Distribution on Motech, Tunnel 7, Los Hermanos and Underground Resistance.
5. Growing up, what was on the radio that caught your attention? Did the airwaves have a big impact on your musical upbringing?
Oh yes, definitely, there was a lot to choose from, but the first big impact was KDAY 1580AM back in the 80s. We had it on at middle school at lunch or even in class when we could get away with it. They had DJs on all the time mixing hip-hop, freestyle and house music. Later on there was a short lived all electronic station called MARS FM that had all the L.A. house and techno DJs plus international guests who come through. Also the Santa Monica College station KCRW had - and still has - great programs at night that introduced me to all kinds of alternative music.
6. What are the biggest lessons working with UR has taught you?
I'd say the no nonsense approach. Detroiters are mostly straightforward and say what they mean. It comes through in the music. Whatever the emotion is in a track it should be heard in the first bar and build from there - don't wait to bring it. Sometimes when I'm putting down ideas I might realize 2 hours into it that everything that came before this current idea wasn't quite "it". So now I really get started. But over time I think I've gotten better at having an idea in my head before I even start working on a new track.
7. How would you describe your own DJ style?
It's a combination of a house and techno DJ with a bit of hip-hop style backspins and scratching. Which means I focus on the music flow and progression, but if the party is really poppin, then I like to slam tracks and mix fast. I very much react to the crowd and how I'm feeling. I never pre-program sets, I just listen to my tunes a lot and pick out a large selection of want I'd like to play for a night. I then let my skills and instinct handle the rest.
8. Your ‘Ganas EP’ has just come out on UR. Can you tell us something about the man who inspired it?
I didn't know Jaime Escalante personally but I could relate to his story since he taught Math at Garfield High School which is just a few miles from where I grew up in L.A. My own 5th grade and 8th grade Math teachers were a lot like him. They were tough but encouraging and pushed us to learn Math based on the idea that it was in our blood because of our Aztec and Mayan ancestors. It's easy to take for granted now since L.A. has a Latino mayor, but in the 80s most kids I knew were becoming "Americanized" and drifting away from their parent's identity. Jaime Escalante basically said you can have it both ways. You can build on what your parents have done by coming to this country, be highly intelligent AND proud of your heritage as Mexicans, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, etc.
9. What do you do away from DJing and music?
I'm married and work as a Systems Administrator at the California Institute of Technology. I spend my week days supporting the faculty and staff at several labs on campus with their Linux, Mac and Windows computer systems. The more interesting labs I support work on Neuroscience, Nano-technology and DNA research. Beyond that my wife Naheedence and I enjoy living in L.A. by going to the beaches, local mountains and foodie spots around town. Any Technotourists out there are welcome to give me a shout and I'll give you some tips for avoiding Hollywood tourist traps.
10. Please give us your top 10 UR releases:
1. The Theory
2. Final Frontier
3. Galaxy 2 Galaxy (Journey of the Dragons and Hi Tech Jazz)
6. Knights of The Jaguar
8. Interstellar Fugitives 1 and 2
(Moor Horsemen on Bolarus 5, Maroon, Afrogermanic, Moonrays, Song for Hmong, Crackzilla, Angkor Wat, etc.)
9. Electronic Warfare 1 and 2
(Illuminator, Logic Bomb, Install Ho Chi Minh Chip, Tazumal, Death of My Neighborhood, Baghdad Express, etc.)
10. Drexciya - The Quest