TVD Recommends:
The (Vinyl Only) Heavy Rotation at Liv, 2/8

I don’t know about you, but I see more wax-deejaying parties popping up faster than condominium projects in AdMo, CoHim and NoMa combined. That’s largely due to the rise of the wax-enthusiast and ultimately a winning streak in vinyl sales. But whatever becomes of vinyl in the future, it’s not slowing down event promoters like Thelonius, a DC-based event promotion team.

One part of the team is Martín Miguel, who gleefully balances the roles of event producer and deejay. With Thelonius, the young deejay will host “Heavy Rotation,” a vinyl-only party happening at Liv on Saturday, February 8.

The lineup includes Roz, John Jazz, and Rusty B, from All Good Funk Alliance. The DJ-event producer already has a small body of musical work brought to the fore by his mentors at Fort Knox Recordings. At first glance, you might see him as the dude with a prototypical kid-down-the-block demeanor. But measure the playlist, not the list player.

Martín Miguel lent some of his precious time to talk about “Heavy Rotation,” his budding interests, and the growing fanbase within the DC vinyl-party scene.

How did “Heavy Rotation” come to be?

The idea originally was to throw an all vinyl tribute to the year 1993—meaning the release date of any cut played had to be 1993—with emphasis on rap releases. We couldn’t find a date or place, and so I reformulated the party into “Heavy Rotation.”

What is the theme or inspiration of “Heavy Rotation” and its being vinyl-only?

Heavy Rotation is the name of a posse cut by Dilated Peoples and The Alkaholiks. The rap is tinged with alcohol references and shit-talking—as you’d expect—but the name has multiple meanings. In the radio context, it means something is getting lots of play, arguably because it’s popular. However, when I think “heavy rotation,” I’m thinking about how the vinyl is physically rotating on the platter and being manipulated by the deejay. Since we’re really focusing on hip-hop, at least as the style of mixing and deejaying, I thought it was fitting.

What’s your relationship with Fort Knox Recordings?

I remember seeing “Fort Knox Five” on a flyer years and years back and decided to check them out. Their sound blew me away, and I copped all of their releases from [the defunct] Turntablelab Digital [TTL]. At that point in time I was still in New York, so I had never met them and outside of promotional photos had no idea what they looked like. [Attending the Eighteenth Street Lounge often] I…eventually introduced myself to Jon and Steve [the DJ components of FK5].

I think I found All Good Funk Alliance through TTL Digital around that same time and got hooked. They’ve been real tastemakers in regards to my musical preference as of late. [They] turned me on to some great future funk and disco material. We had them spin at our holiday bash at Zeba [in Columbia Heights, December 2013] and it was a real treat. I hope to continue working with all of these fellas.

What sparked your interest in the vinyl format?

I decided I wanted to try sample-based beat production as a college freshman. The best source material is on vinyl, and I wanted to emulate my favorite producers by digging in the crates and scratching in my productions. I managed to cop a pair of broken 1200’s for $300 (what a deal!), got ’em fixed and started accumulating wax. I got lazy with the production thing, but really enjoyed deejaying and digging. It’s funny to look at it retrospectively; I would spin all vinyl hip-hop and funk sets at college house parties and 90% of attendees thought I was wack for not playing Kid Cudi. The other 10 percent, well, they knew what was up.

Are you an A-side or B-side guy?

A-side’s are obviously going to get more play, but I think B-sides are part of what makes vinyl releases so unique. Each version or pressing of a single could have a different B-side, and a lot of B-side tracks are unreleased joints or remixes that didn’t make the LP. Take the Pharcyde, for example. The B-side on the “Otha Fish” 12-inch has an incredible remix to “Passin’ Me By” with re-recorded vocals and a great Roy Ayers sample. You won’t find songs like that anywhere outside of vinyl B-sides unless the artist releases a “B-sides and rarities” compilation [the group actually did such]. Having access to “exclusive” or “rare” cuts is an essential part of the trade.

Also, Hot Chocolate’s “You Sexy Thing” was originally the B-side to “Blue Night/” ‘Nuff said.

What are your favorite record stores in the District?

I used to frequent Joe’s Record Paradise [in Silver Spring] quite a bit, and their selection is still really solid and extensive. I am a big fan of Som Records too.

What were the last few LPs on your turntable?

Al B. Sure, In Effect Mode; Zapp, Zapp; A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders; Gang Starr, Moment of Truth; Midnight Star, No Parking On The Dancefloor; Marley Marl, In Control, Vol. 1.

What are your larger plans as a musician?

I’d like to get back into production and find more time for deejaying. That being said, I think putting together fresh events is my primary focus right now.

As for the future of vinyl records sales, do you see the trend falling into exclusive interests, or more mainstream?

Vinyl will be around as long as there are deejays and producers. A lot of releases, both new and old, are exclusively vinyl. Crate-digging, whether it’s for sampling or spinning, will always be about finding some good shit that few others have, and that ain’t changing any time soon.

I think vinyl has become “hip” for casual listening. Urban Outfitters stocks LPs now, after all. However, vinyl-based deejaying (and production) remains exclusive for several reasons. The equipment is fairly expensive, especially if you want the professional standard, and putting together a quality collection is going to cost you even more.

There’s something undeniably charming about the physical aspect of vinyl, so I’m not surprised it’s resurfaced. Obviously, it’s also hard to disregard the stereotype that “hipster culture” is often associated with being attracted to exclusive things (like vinyl). I don’t perceive the popularization is a bad thing, though; the increased demand has resulted in a lot of classic records being re-pressed and re-packaged. And I think it’s great that this has all led to a lot of folks discovering new sounds.

Heavy_Rotation

A genuine audiophile such as DJ Martín Miguel corroborates the vinyl-only party scene will make an impact on urban tastes (if not an even greater impact). Furthermore, Analog Underground curator/creator Jennifer Bryant has said the “creative class” (in any given urban setting) has gained ownership to this new vinyl-oriented subculture. Miguel would agree with Bryant’s statement, “I think all vinyl-parties are mainly driven by local DJs and collectors. These events sprung up as organic, sometimes genre-specific, communities. I don’t think the shops played a huge role in that process. These events are actually creating [a consumer] base for local vinyl shops.”

Liv Nightclub DC is located at 2001 11th St. NW (corner of 11th and U). The event goes from 10PM-3AM. $5 Cover. 21+

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