Who is

DJ black angus

and what has he done?

DJing at a Kostume Kult fundraiser, Club blvd, Manhattan, 2006. Photo courtesy of DJ Michael 'Mic Rage' Rura.

The song remains the same: DJing my 20th HS reunion, School Street Bistro, Westfield, MA, 2008 Photo courtesy of Diana Alberti.

Beat juggling with DJ Purple, Nexus Faire, Charleton, MA, 2009. Photo courtesy of Michael Whitehouse.

DJing Henry and Tina's affair, 08 Dec 2012 Photo Courtesy of Kate Harvie.

DJing in Boston, 2013.

On the wheels of steel at the Denon DJ booth, International DJ Expo, 2007 Photo courtesy of Silvio Zeppieri of Denon DJ.

2013, Photo courtesy of Dino Flintstone Photography.

DJing George and Jaimi's party, June 2011. Photo courtesy of Jaimi Rodriguez.

DJing the Hofbrauhaus, W. Springfield, MA, during Oktoberfest, 2012.

With Henry Agudelo after my first gig for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of MA, 2013.

A Sunday afternoon interview with DJ black angus

WHAT IS DJING, & WHAT DOES A DJ DO?

'In a good club, and even in most bad ones, the dancers are celebrating their youth, their energy, their sexuality. They are worshipping life through dance and music. Some worship with the heightened levels of perception that drugs bring; but most are carried away by the music and the people around them. The DJ is the key to all this. By playing records in the right way the average DJ has a tremendous power to affect people's states of mind. A truly great DJ, just for a moment, can make a whole room fall in love.' --from the introduction to Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: the History of the DJ, by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton

TELL US ABOUT YOU AS A CHILD, AND HOW YOU GOT STARTED

I grew up around music, and around musicians; there was a spinet piano in my maternal grandparents’ living room and an upright grand in my mother’s foyer. My mother is a classical pianist who also played the flute, the clarinet, and stringed instruments in her youth. My grandfather had been a saxophonist. My grandmother dabbled in piano. My uncle played trumpet and piano.

My mother attended college to become a music teacher, and when she recognised my talent and love for music—she insists I was a prodigy, and I supposed she’d know, though I always bristled at being labelled one--she and my grandparents enrolled me in music theory and piano lessons straightaway, when I was five or six. I began learning the recorder in second grade, the saxophone in third, the clarinet in fourth, percussion throughout, and as a teen, picked up a little bit of electric bass, though I’ve never been particularly good at it. I played in my schools’ concert and jazz bands and occasionally in my friends’ rock bands, and also became something of a rapper/poet along the way. I almost attended Berklee College of Music in Boston (funding foiled me), and was a week away from joining the Marine Corps band (I decided upon Army intelligence instead). In my twenties I played in a couple rock bands (keyboards), a Prince tribute band (keyboards, lead and backing vocals), and a jazz/R&B ensemble (clarinet and keys).

Music was my lifeblood, because it was my family’s. I listened to country, soul, and funk in the car with my grandparents; my grandfather listened to blues when alone, and my grandmother preferred Seventies AM radio. My mother would often play the piano for hours; in watching for how shoulders relaxed and her posture changed throughout a session, in observing relief and an absence of stress in her face afterward, the reassertion of some sense of joy, I learned how cathartic performance can be, as well as how energising listening is.

LPs and 8-tracks, and later, cassettes, were throughout the house, and my family was happy to buy more as I requested them. Nana turned me onto Sam Cooke, Chicago, and the Jacksons; (Grand) Daddy turned me onto Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Satchmo; Mom turned me on to Michel Legrand, Stevie Wonder, Pink Floyd, and Prince, and brought me to Luv Bug Starski and Run-DMC concerts.

I went to an all-white school, and absorbed all ‘their’ music; and eventually realised that I understood and appreciated much more than most of my peers, and that through DJing, could earn enough money to at least keep purchasing music for my own entertainment… As my talents improved and my tastes broadened, I realised that DJing was a delight in its own right, and as noble an avocation or profession as any… I DJed in the army, in college, and wherever I could, no matter how rude my equipment, happy to share my love of, and increasing skills manipulating, music…

WHAT'S YOUR DREAM GIG?

A monthly gig in NYC where I'm allowed creative freedom within whatever genre the club promotes. And endorsements.

I would love to be the DJ who warms up the crowd for Kelly and Michael, or for Steve Harvey's show, that sort of thing.

IF YOU COULD WORK WITH ANYONE IN THE WORLD, WHO'D IT BE?

It depends upon the details, the how and why, but Trent Reznor, Lady Gaga, Ellie Goulding, Nicole Moudaber, Carl Cox.

HOW DO YOU KNOW WHEN YOU'RE DOING A GOOD JOB?

I know I'm doing well when people are dancing, smiling, living, and I'm forgotten. There’s electricity in the air, people calling out, people allowing themselves release, ecstasy. It's the highest compliment. People are quick to tell you your performance sucks; they praise you with their feet, their hips, their smiles and the emotion that engulf us all.

WHAT DO YOU OFFER A CLIENT?

Accessibility. Adaptability. Versatility. Flexibility. Humour. Good taste. Peace of mind.

TEN MUSICIANS YOU ADMIRE?

Prince, Ani Difranco, Jay Z, Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Quincy Jones, Immortal Technique, Miles Davis, Jimi Hendrix, Hiromi Uehara. Outliers; pioneers; precedent-setters, truth-seekers, legends.

TEN DJS YOU ADMIRE (AND WHY?)

Carl Cox, DJ Rap, DJ Baby Anne, Q*Bert, Jazzy Jeff, Satoshi Tomiie, Moby, Dr Dre, Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash Pioneers, every one, and each the best at what s/he does.

10 HUMAN BEINGS YOU ADMIRE (AND WHY?)

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr, Jimmy Carter, Dr Charles Drew, Matthew Henson, Dr Marie Curie, Muhammad Ali, Nikola Tesla. When the world experienced each one, a paradigm shift occurred: each was a force for social change and for more inclusive thinking. The last two are my mother and my late maternal grandfather. I have to mention my daughter, too, because shw was certainly a paradigm shift for me.

YOU SAY YOU LIKE EVERYTHING. WHY?

I need to be able to enjoy it all--even if I won't play it all--so that I know how to best delight my party-goers.

HOW HAS DJING EMERGED AS AN ART? WHO WAS THE FIRST DJ?

According to Last Night a DJ Saved My Life: the History of the DJ, by Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton, the first DJ was Reginald A. Fessenden, who, on Christmas Eve 1906, ‘...sent uncoded radio signals—music and speech—from Brant Rock near Boston... (probably Clara Butt) singing Handel’s Largo.’

IF YOU COULD CHANGE ONE THING IN OUR WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?

Access to healthcare and clean water for everyone.

DO YOU HEAR MUSIC EVERYWHERE, IN EVERYTHING?

Yes: it's why I like experimental, glitch, ambient, atmospheric, and noise rock music as well as everything else. I hear music in the child's wail, in the garbage truck's growl, in the purr of a sports car's engine. Music is the sound of life being lived.

TELL ME TEN THINGS YOU'VE DONE FOR MONEY

I've probably had well over a hundred jobs, in part because I always had at least three at a time from age sixteen onward. Among other things, I've been a telemarketer, landscaper's assistant, a key maker, a print shop worker, a US Army soldier, a bellhop, a driver, a dishwasher, a car salesman, and sold lingerie, wedding dresses, and men's suits in a department store.

TELL ME WHO YOU ARE IN FIVE WORDS

Dreaded, unedited, hard-headed and

HOW ABOUT IN TEN?

Talented, personable, opinionated, absent-minded, musical, even-tempered, and accessible

YOU SAY YOU LIKE ALL KINDS OF MUSIC, BUT DO YOU HAVE A CERTAIN KIND OF MUSIC THAT YOU'RE ESPECIALLY DRAWN TO?

It's largely mood-driven, although I usually listen to trance or ambient/chillout when going to bed. Most of the time I'm mixing, practising, and then listening critically to my finished product. In the car, when not checking my mixes, I listen to NPR, or R&B and hip hop or pop with my daughter, or classic rock and modern rock. I have a real soft spot for prog rock and metal, and will listen to that on long highway drives or when on my bike. It just depends...

IS THERE SUCH A THING AS BAD MUSIC?

Only in that the music YOU don't like is bad and the music that you DO like is good. It's subjective. 'Practicing an art, no matter how well or how badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for goodness sake.' --Kurt Vonnegut

HOW DO YOU GET A GROUP OF BORED AND UNHAPPY PEOPLE TO DANCE?

I can't make them dance if they don't want to dance. But if they're actively listening and receptive to what's going on, all I need to do is play what they like, and what they might like, my way, and enjoy it myself.

YOU'RE ALSO A POET. DO YOU HAVE ANY FAVOURITE POEMS?

Sara Teasdale's 'There Will Come Soft Rains'; Yeats' 'A Prayer for My Daughter'; Gloria Douglas Johnson's 'Common Dust'

WHAT'S THE GREATEST MISUNDERSTANDING PEOPLE HAVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO?

The great misunderstanding is that it's easy, that anyone with an iPod or CDJ or turntable can achieve the results we professionals do, that it's all about button-pushing or playing from YouTube.

WHAT EXCITING THINGS ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW IN MUSIC?

Artists are making themselves heard through any media they can, making the Internet work for them, eliminating the middlemen and dealing directly with the hungry fans to whom their music appeals.

HOW HAS MUSIC FROM AFRICA INFLUENCED THE MUSIC WE LISTEN TO IN NORTH AMERICA?

Every form of popular music originating in the Americas--country, folk, soul, funk, hip hop, jazz, blues, rock and metal, reggae--has its roots in black culture, and black culture has its roots in Africa (as do we all).

ARE THERE ANY MOMENTS IN HISTORY YOU'RE NOSTALGIC ABOUT?

I would have loved to be a clubgoer or DJ during the heyday of Studio 54 in the Seventies; or at the Roxy in NY in the early 80s as hip began its climb to dominance. I would have gone to the Covent Garden Theatre, London in 1832 to see Nicolo Paganini perform, or to the Vocalion studio with Robert Johnson in 1936 to listen as he recorded his legendary songs.

ALRIGHT, LET'S HEAR ABOUT YOUR INFLUENCES. TELL ME TEN THINGS TEN PEOPLE HAVE SAID THAT YOU LIKE

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” ―Mark Twain

“A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.” ―Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back

“I'm for truth, no matter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being, first and foremost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” ―Malcolm X

“What do you think? I'm not a starfish or a pepper tree. I'm a living, breathing human being. Of course I've been in love.” ―Haruki Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

“Whatever the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth--whether it existed before or not.” ―John Keats

“I'm very much aware I can't think. I'm a poet.” ―René Daumal

“This city belongs to ghosts, to murderers, to sleepwalkers. Where are you, in what bed, in what dream?” ―Marguerite Yourcenar

"If we don't believe in freedom of speech for those we despise, then we don't believe in it at all." --Noam Chomsky

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but–I hope–into a better shape.” -Charles Dickens

"...because one day, maybe one day, if I learned how to write clear enough, sing loud enough, I could explain myself in a way that made sense and then maybe one day...someone out there would hear and recognise her or himself and I could let them know that they are not alone." -Charlotte Eriksson

GOT A CV?

Yes. But I won't bore you with it, unless you ask. I've been doing this since 1988 - from big weddings to little parties, to vernisages, to dodgeball tournaments, to clubs. I love what I do. And I've done a lot of it. And I'm always excited about the next moment for me and music to intersect.

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