The New Guy
DJ Soundcheck / One night Kalani Wilhelm and I were going back and forth on Twitter. Taunting each other about our columns and what we were writing about. I was like “Hey Kalani, how about we trade places this week! I’ll write about a DJ and you can write a name-dropping fluff-piece about nothing!” Poor Ryan Senaga almost had a Twitter-heart attack.
Sorry Ryan and Kalani, I’m going for it. DJ Soundcheck. I have to write about this DJ, he totally popped up out of nowhere and he’s good.
So where are you from?
I grew up in Lewiston, Maine, and then got my degree in Recording Arts from Full Sail University in Orlando for music production sound recording and then I moved to Chicago right after, in 2002.
So you were one of those DJs who grew up playing music?
The rave scene was introduced to New England where I grew up in 1995, and that’s what really inspired me. I was going to these raves at like age 13. I fell in love with DJs like Qbert and turntable-ists but then found house to be my calling after seeing how Bad Boy Bill and Richard Humpty Vission could shred through tracks. These guys would always toss old Chicago house into their sets. I learned about the music through them. I moved to Chicago right after college. Chicago is the mecca of house, it’s where it started. I figured if I could get a gig there, I could play anywhere.
SO did you get a gig?
Yes, my first day there; so funny how it all happened. I met a dude in Providence, Rhode Island, while spinning at a club. He saw me spin four more times and asked me if I wanted to check out his new concept club in Chicago. They were going to have live music, then a DJ that they wanted five nights a week. So with my background, I figured, fuck it and took a trip out to see it. I then just sent for my stuff and took the job.
At first the DJ-ing was every night, then I was able to bring in others to fill my slots, but a big part of that experience was installing a state of the art sound system with John Lyons. He is like the god of sound systems.
What kind of music were you playing for those first few weeks you DJ-ed five nights a week?
We started off with, like, a mix genre at first. I’m a fan of the ‘80s and cheesy vocal music, but soon after it was house music every night, all night.
Did the people of Chicago dig that?
It was rated so high for so long. Most clubs in Chicago last about three years. Martini Park–where I was playing–lasted for six. The place was on a run. It was the start of a corporate franchise. The club then opened in Dallas, Columbus, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Then the lead investor–Ken Starr–was found guilty of fraud and embezzlement. So it was all shut down. Two months later I moved here.
WOW! So now where can people see you play here in Honolulu?
I play SoHo mostly, every Wednesday for CheckIN, First Fridays, some of the Blackout parties.
What do you think of Honolulu so far?
I love it here. I love surfing. I love manapua. My plan was to stay a year, but I might make it two.