UC Santa Cruz student DJs will be putting their own spin on the downtown club scene.
Red Bull is sponsoring a competition for Santa Cruz DJs on May 17 at Motiv, located in downtown Santa Cruz. Hosted by emcee Nick Centis, it will feature a set by professional DJ John Beaver after the competition.
Five UCSC student DJs will be performing: GuR (JR Rolle), Razzmatik (Alon Rogenstein), Ruby Sparks (Vanessa Sandberg), Sam F (Sam Fishman) and Stay Deep (Michael Gushansky). The winner will be awarded a $100 cash prize, as well as a “Gold Record” and an invitation to perform at Motiv in the future.
The DJs involved have distinct creative styles in mixing music. Gushansky, a fourth-year politics major, describes himself as having an “old-school” DJ style.
“I like making it seem as though you don’t know where one track starts and one track ends,” Gushansky said.
DJs will be scored by audience reaction, meaning competitors will need to select songs that will get the crowd excited.
“It’ll be interesting seeing the crowd’s reaction to what I play,” said Rolle, a third-year psychology major and event competitor.
“I’m looking forward to bringing something completely different to the competition. I’m pretty sure that I have a particularly different style,” said Rolle, who favors “deep dubstep,” a subgenre of dubstep.
“It’s focused on subbass and minimal rhythms,” Rolle said. “I’ve been spinning that for a while now.”
DJs select music based on popularity, personal preference and a variety of other factors. High-energy music such as electro and dubstep are popular choices, Gushansky said.
Many DJs use computers to mix and play music, as opposed to turntables and other equipment, he said.
“I use computers when I want to replicate my digital library in an older medium,” Gushansky said, “when I want to feel like I’m playing vinyl but I don’t have $1,000 to spend on records.”
However, Gushansky said new technology takes something away from the DJ experience.
“The problem is you’re not forced to look for records in your crate,” Gushansky said. “That takes a really crucial element out of the performance experience, because half the battle is looking for those records. You don’t really that much time to mix. It’s like a blitz.”
Although the event is a competition, participants like DJ and music producer Sam Fishman are mainly looking forward to performing for a crowd.
“I’m not too competitive,” Fishman said. “When it comes down to it, I know that Stay Deep and JR are really good DJs. For me, I’m more of a producer. I spend all of my time making my own songs.”
Fishman, a third-year art major, is also a hip-hop artist and rapper. He said his greatest aspiration is to become famous through his music.
“The stuff that I produce is mostly electro-dubstep,” Fishman said. “Fast-paced dubstep, you could call it.”
Motiv regularly holds “College Thursdays” for local students.
“I’m looking forward to playing out of Motiv,” Rolle said. “I’ve played there a few times and I like the sound. It’s a good place to play a small party.”
Regardless of who wins or loses, ultimately the event is about a bunch of people doing what they love.
“It feels so good when someone comes up to you after the show and says, ‘Hey, what was that track you played?’” Gushansky said. “You tell them about it and they write it down, and two months later they’re DJing themselves.”