It doesn’t take much to get me over to Los Angeles. Give me any reason, really. What, your film got in to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival? Word, I’m there. Natural Vibes is playing at the mai tai bar in Long Beach? Sweet, there’s a flight out tonight. I don’t need to do these trips but I never regret them. I always wind up spending that money on bad decisions in Honolulu anyway.
The “reason” this past weekend was to support Jonathan “Jay” Ablan,DJ Compose at the Red Bull Thre3Style DJ Battle. The winner goes to Orlando to try for best in the nation, then later the world. After witnessing all the minds Jay blew at the preliminary event here, it was just something I had to see outside of Honolulu.
I assumed each of the eight contenders at the regional qualifier would be at the top of their game. Most of the regular giging DJs are also producers, touring headliners and extremely talented. “If you [come to LA] thinking it’s ‘just playing some songs,’ then I guess tackling the Riemann Hypothesis is ‘just doing some math,’” Los Angeles native and event judge Graham Funke told me before the event. To even be an LA finalist meant something. Still, it was surprising to many of us how low the energy in the room was. Or maybe these guys were just missing an essential key to unlocking success as a DJ–the crowd’s support. Either way, it was a somewhat slow start to what was going to end in a volcanic eruption.
A group of about 35 Compose supporters was spread out across the venue; 20 people squeezed in to Hawaii Red Bull Marketing Manager Travis Watanabe’s VIP table to one side, another group of mostly females (us) on the other side right below the judges risers and a bunch of people right in the front. You would have been proud; we had that place on lock. Spreading out worked and the entire room caught our energy. By track two we were immediately transported back to the night Jay won at SoHo Mixed Media Bar. From Outkast to Bombs Over Baghdad to Red Hot Chili Peppers remixed live, it was all brought with his signature stage presence that says only one thing: I got this. His banger was a lei from import model Justine Jaro after smashing the Hawaii Five-0 theme song. It’s a good thing he went last. I would have felt sorry for anyone that had to follow that. It was perfect. In the end? DYNAMIX from LA won for the second year in a row, and we all learned quickly how things work at these events. The crowd isn’t everything, but in Jay’s case the crowd was everything.
“A room full of people I respect saw what I am made of tonight. That in itself was a win for myself; for all of us,” he said after taking second at the event, mentioning about artist heavyweights like Fashen, Revolution, Z-Trip, Fourcolorzack, Headspin, Sprite and many of the Skam Artists that commended his performance. Dude, you won. I’m just glad I got to see it with my own eyes.