DJ Senbad Talks Bar Smith, House Music, Current Underground Chicago, Crue-L Grand Orchestra, and More

Categories: DJ Dossier
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Name: Sean Badger

AKA: Senbad

Club Nights: Right now, I'm doing Skyline on Friday Nights at the Sheraton in downtown Phoenix and Solstice Saturday Nights at Bar Smith. Then I do lots of other guest spots and random club gigs and corporate stuff.

Preferred Genres: The deep house music is definitely my preferred genre. I do like "golden era" hip-hop as well. When I first started DJing I pretty much bought equal amounts of house music and hip-hop records, but stopped doing hip-hop and just focused on the house, because that's what I really wanted to do anyway. 

How did you get started: I was curious about DJing since I was pretty young. I lived with my grandparents and didn't really have any information or accessibility. I met some guys my senior year of high school that were DJs. I'd give them breaks every now and then, and started learning. I eventually came to a point where I quit everything that I was doing, got a job at a record store, bought some turntables, moved to Boston and discovered house music.

Worst experience as a DJ: Probably getting texted from club managers asking me to change the music when the room is going crazy, just because they want to hear something different, or the myriad of terrible requests that you get. Anytime I've heard someone say, "Can you play some real hip-hop, like Usher?"

What's your opinion on the local DJ scene? I think there's a ton of excellent talent in Phoenix, far better than in most cities in fact. The majority of headlining DJs that come to town usually will get their asses handed to them when they come to Phoenix by whoever opens for them.

So why isn't Phoenix more renowned as a DJ town then? It's a situation of how leisurely our lifestyle is in general here, leading to the fact that people don't care as much about their entertainment. You have to be way more on top of your game to get people to come out when they don't have a real high stress lifestyle to begin with, and once you get them there then you have to work harder to entertain them. People in cities where their life is such an everyday struggle -- like in New York or Detroit or Chicago -- really value their entertainment.

What else is holding the Phoenix scene back? Bottom line thinking across the board with all of the club owners. With radio everything is watered down, super accessible. Nobody challenges anybody, nobody puts anything super original out. There are only a handful of groups of people that try to do interesting entertainment. Everybody else is playing Top 40 and selling liquor and that's all they care about.

How do you get a crowd going? It depends on whether I am starting things off or sliding in. Basically I just try to get a feel for the room and whatever energy I feel needs to be put into the room and try to introduce that energy. I'm not like going to jump on and play a big hit right now to get things started. I like to create a groove and pull people into it.

What's the secret of a successful club night? Continuity. You try to create a specific environment like when we tried to meld the music with the live art of the chalkboard. Live art gets done to death these days at events but it's still a good thing to do. We worked very hard to create a specific vibe and booked other DJs besides just Pete and I.



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