A Practical Interview With a Prominent DJ (7th in a Series): Zac Hendrix
by Dave Segal
on Wed, Oct 10, 2012 at 8:55 AM
Earlier this year, we were thinking about running a feature called DJ Survival Guide. I interviewed several Seattle disc jockeys for the piece and accumulated thousands of words of wisdom re: the selecting, mixing, and playing of music for other people’s pleasure, but the thing never achieved publication. So I’m going to post those interviews on Line Out, because there’s enough solid advice to help a lot of aspiring jocks… and because the replies are interesting in and of themselves. This week’s installment is with Zac Hendrix (no relation to Jimi), who has served as Del the Funky Homosapien’s DJ and heads the Midnight Hotline Rendezvous monthly with Leland Jones every last Friday at Lo-Fi, where they spin ’80s soul, funk, disco, boogie, and electro.
The Stranger: How many hours a week do you practice/prepare? Zac Hendrix: Varies. I used to practice 1-5 hours a day on average. I practice DJing less right now to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and so I can practice my drumming a little more.
What’s your DJing format of choice and why? Vinyl, because it looks and sounds so great. Serato is cool for lots of reasons and I use it frequently to play AIFF files ripped from my collection, but if I could only choose one way to DJ, I choose vinyl.
What are your recommendations for headphones, needles, turntables, CDJs, DJ-oriented software programs? Skullcandy SK-PRO headphones, Ortofon Scratch needles, Technics 1200 turntables, Rane TTM-57 mixer, Serato Scratchlive, and I don't have a CDJ.
Where are the best places to obtain music, both in brick-and-mortar shops and online? You should be getting your records from me! Storkchild121 on eBay and Cash4Records@gmail.com. Get in touch and schedule an appointment or delivery. Otherwise, check out Neptune, Jive Time, Easy Street, etc. It's a great time to buy/invest.
What are the most effective methods for procuring gigs? In a hyper-competitive field, how do you set yourself apart from other DJs? I'm actually not very good at procuring gigs, because I'm not that social, I leave town to go on tour fairly often, and I live in Federal Way. It helps to know a lot of people who are doing good stuff. You might get the hook-up and you'll at least learn something. As for setting myself apart, I have my own unique voice because of the selections I make. I'm highly familiar with several genres of music because hiphop introduced me to all of them. That's been a huge advantage. Meanwhile, I can scratch, mix, spin doubles, juggle, blend, back-up MCs on the mic, etc.—all at a high skill level and I have roughly 20 years’ experience. I also have enough vinyl to qualify me for a non-gross episode of Hoarders. I make beats, play drums, and perform/sell records for a living. I'm all about it creativity and positivity. Hire me.
What have you found to be the most efficient ways to fill the dance floor (with dancers, to be specific ;)? I wish the answer was just, "follow your heart," but the real key is to play music that the audience knows already. For me, that means things like Michael Jackson or Outkast. I hit them with the Kwick or Organized Konfusion records that I'd rather share with them after that.
Is beat-matching absolutely essential for a DJ? Sad question, but necessary. Yes. We want to be respected as artists, right? I guess you can get out there and be an okay half-ass DJ who can't mix, but you'd better be much cuter than me.
How do you deal with requests? If I have the song and I like it, I'll almost always play it immediately unless the BPM difference is too extreme. Rude requests for "something good" are dealt with differently.
How effective do you think flyering is? Not as effective as I'd like. It seems to work better when it's combined with a short conversation or a friend's recommendation.
What have you found to be the most beneficial ways to promote your gigs? Using this article. [LOL. —ed.] Midnight Hotline Rendezvous featuring Hendrix Jones is every last Friday of the month at the fabulous Lo-Fi Performance Gallery. Also, Facebook works pretty well.
If you have an overarching philosophy about DJing, please discuss it. As with any creative endeavor, use it as an opportunity to inspire yourself and others. Be sure you're having fun! Know your culture and learn about other ones. Find music that you care about and then discover its roots and branches. You are an audio collage artist and you're playing an unorthodox rhythm instrument of sorts. Do it well to honor those who came before you and don't stop. Pass on what you know to others and don't be a dick.