Gaslamp Killer: "DJs are Afraid of the Kids"
The Gaslamp Killer isn't for the faint of heart. He's been in the game for more than a decade and he's made a name for himself as part of Flying Lotus's Brain Feeder crew. The Cali-based label is a tight-knit group of envelope pushers, and Gaslamp Killer has earned his stripes with mind-bending mixes and insane live sets.
He's got a rowdy weekly every Wednesday in L.A. called Low End Theory, but he's taken his inventive sound to dance floors all over the world, whether the world is ready for it or not. He'll be hitting the carpet this Sunday at Bardot, and he's looking forward to a crowd that's ready to eat up what he's serving.
Come on Miami, you're not a bunch of peasant shit-stains, are you?
Crossfade: Your recordings and mixes have a very interesting and unique sound to them. What is going on with other DJs that seem to have gotten stale out there, sounding the same?
The Gaslamp Killer: The DJs are afraid of the kids. People are afraid to be themselves. You put yourself out there in front of these people, and you think you know what they want to hear, and you think you know what they're feeling, so you start catering. I was doing it last night. I played a secret set for a show in New York that shall remain nameless, but it was a hip-hop show and it was a big deal for New York. I thought it would be cool to play what I play because the people that asked me to play really wanted me to bring my style to it, and the crowd hated it. I tried to adapt and I failed because I was afraid of the people. I felt so much pressure from the audience. They weren't happy, and they started to vocalize how unhappy they were and it got kind of hairy. I felt like I had to just change my sound up and start playing more hip-hop and start catering a little bit. I never do that, and I hated myself for it, but I panicked under the pressure of the crowd.
I think a lot of DJs now-a-days they start out in love and they're doing their own thing, but then somewhere along the way the gigs takeover and this crazy importance to make the crowd happy takes over their artistry. It just becomes another fucking jukebox party, y'know? A lot of people feel like "okay, the kids want to dance, the kids need to dance, they want to get crazy, they want to get turnt up." They start playing the same songs everyone else plays, trying to get the crowd involved, but we as DJs need to have a little more faith in what we're doing, and in the crowd and what they're coming to see happen and try. (We need to) feel a little more brave and have a little more pride for what it is that got us started in this shit. Some of these guys started off playing dance music and playing fun party music that everyone loves and that's what they've always been into, like playing at their friend's house parties and making everyone happy and stuff. But other DJs started out and they were so weird and quirky and have their niche, and then they just crumbled under the pressure of the people and under the trends and shit.
I'm sure it's a slippery slope.
Yeah, it happens to the best. It really does.
How do you try to keep yourself fresh? How do you try to keep your brain in an artistic space?
It's so complicated honestly. What kind of morning did you have? What kind of afternoon did you have? What kind of night did you have? Are you okay with your girlfriend, are you okay with your family, are you okay, period. That type of shit is going to affect your show, and it's going to take your mind away from what you really need to do. Sometimes I can just snap into the show mode and then all of a sudden it's just me and the people. I just feel like "okay these people packed in this club, they're here for me and that's a big deal. I feel very proud of that. I filled this room for who I am and what I do and stuff," so I have a little faith, and I'm going to give them a dose of what they came to see and just kind of be freakin' proud and brave and just get in the moment with the people.
If you're an opener it's a little harder because the people aren't there to see you. They're there to see the headliner, so it's way more complicated. But I have years and years of playing as the opener and having to deal with people who were over what I was doing. They wanted me to hurry the fuck up and get off so the next guy could get on. Last night, I said to the crowd "I get it, you're all here to see so-and-so. But if I stop, you're going to be listening to a fucking CD for an hour, I guarantee you. So, if you want to be nice, I'll play. But if you don't, you're going to be sorry." Sure enough they were rude, so I got off early 'cause I was this unannounced guest, I didn't owe anyone anything. I got off the fuckin' stage and they played a fucking Bob Marley CD quiet as fuck in the background for an hour, and they all stood around like idiots with their dicks in their hands, and that's what I told them was going to happen if they didn't act right. They just didn't listen to me, and that's what they get and I laughed. I was just sitting there like "I just think you guys are so ignorant, you couldn't even have a good time. I was trying to bring you a good time, you couldn't even have a good time, and now this is what you get. You get to stand around with no music. I hope you're fucking happy you fucking peasant shit-stain."
Damn, that's a good insult. I'm going to keep that in mind.
That's my go-to. But honestly, I just say that in jest. Obviously I'm not anybody special. I'm just an artist trying to do his thing. But it's personal sometimes, you can take it personally.