Pete "SuperMix" Salaz Talks Tai Chi, Swell Season, Cali Swag District, Tony Loreto, and More

Categories: DJ Dossier
pete salaz.jpg
DJ Pete "SuperMix" Salaz
To say that Pete Salaz wears a lot of hats would be a major understatement. The dude's not only trained in both Tai Chi Chuan and kung fu, but he's also a full-time parent, prize-winning salsa maker, and one of several managing partners of Bar Smith. (In the spirit of full disclosure, we should also mention that he's also an employee of Phoenix New Times.)

Oh, and Salaz has also spent time over the past 25 years becoming a Godfather in the Valley's DJ scene.

Name: Pete Salaz Castaneda, Jr.

AKA: "SuperMix"

Current club nights: I can be found at Solstice Saturdays at Bar Smith, Skyline Fridays at the downtown Sheraton, and the occasional Red Monkey (next one is on Thanksgiving 2010)

Genres spun: House music (I'm a one trick pony)

How did you get started as a DJ: In 1984-85 breakdancing was hot! I've always been big boned. I can't spin on my head or do anything else breakdance related. So, the only way I could be involved with that scene was to provide the music. I bought some crappy equipment (back in the day, I didn't think it was crappy) and started my journey. And now, 25 years later, I still can't break!

Explanation behind your nickname: In 1988-89 (it's all a blur), I was hired to do a mix show for Tucson's 98.3 KRQQ. The station voice over couldn't pronounce my real last name (Castaneda). So rather than letting the staff come up with a name (Jam Hard Junior), I decided to create one. I was all about the Chicago styled DJs then, in particular the Hot Mix 5. They all had names with middle monikers. Micky "Mixin" Oliver, Ralphi "Rockin'" Rosario, Kenny "Jammin'" Jason, etc. So, I decided to use my middle name as my last and came up with "SuperMix" as my moniker.

Best experience as a DJ: People I've met along the way. It's my theory that house music attracts a certain type of people. It's not characterized by skin color, size, beauty, religion, lifestyle, etc. To paraphrase my ol' partner Eddie Amador, "It's a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing." (No, really)

And the worst? Well, I guess I'd have to say closed-minded people. Everything balances out. To go along with all the cool people I've met along the way...I've also met some people who are ignorant. I don't hate 'em...jus' sad. Actually, what is sad is they don't know they are ignorant. Who knows? Maybe I'm ignorant.

What do you dig about house music? Well, it's basically the key to get into my soul. It's the combination of the lock so to speak. It just fits. In 1990 I dropped all the other genres I spun at the time, and continued on with only House. It's not for everyone...but it definitely is for me.

How do you see the genre evolving over the next decade: House music has been around as long as hip-hop [and] we are now into our second generation of house heads." I am now spinnin' to Heads whose parents were Heads. What I'm getting at is...for the most part, House is still pretty much the same as it was 20 yrs ago. It's evolution has been subtle. New sub genres sprout up all the time. Some stay, some don't. But, I believe house has definitely passed the threshold of being a fad. It's here to stay.

Has your background in kung fu helped you DJ? I practiced White Crane kung fu for three years before I completely dedicated my training to Tai Chi Chuan, which I've been doing for 7 years. I feel that I am at the point where I can move chi within my body. I visualize what is in my soul coming out of the speakers into other people. Thus, I feel I'm giving my chi to the crowd. In return, they give it back with their response. We share chi/energy!

What's your background in salsa-making? When I was young, my dad would cut and chop whatever he could find in the fridge and eventually turn out somethin' spicy. Each time it was different. It was so routine that I never really paid much attention until he died. From there I experimented. Eventually, cooking (including salsa making) became a hobby for me and my ex-girlfriend. For shits and giggles we entered our secret stuff into the Arizona State Fair in 2009 where we won the blue ribbon.

What goes into the perfect salsa in your opinion? It's all subjective. I don't think there is a "perfect" salsa. The recipe I came up with is pretty basic (tomatoes, jalapenos, onions, cilantro, lemon, garlic, salt, etc). What sets mine apart from others is the way it's prepared. The salsa I make has a smoky flavor to it. How I do [the rest] is kept in a safe!

What are some of the other clubs you've spun at over the years? Holy Crap! I think it would be easier to say, "Which clubs haven't you spun at?" To answer my own question, I have not spun at most of the new crop of clubs that have sprung up in Scottsdale. And I'm very ok with that.

Which bygone club do you miss the most? By far, Chupa! It was an underground club that me and five other partners ran from 1992-96 on the corner of Eighth Avenue and Madison in downtown Phoenix next to the homeless shelter. e were open from midnight to 7am every Friday and Saturday morning. 300-plus peeps every week...almost 20 years ago! We didn't know what we had back then. Wow! That is a chapter in itself.

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Who would've thought the guy I met by coincidence is an awesome DJ..! I will come out soon to hear you mix and get you a drink.. Congrats Pete!

Penny Nicole Benally
Penny Nicole Benally

What can you say about this guy that those that truly know him don't already know?! Beautiful Human Being... period. I've been a follower of Pete since Chupa days (long ago)... and I make a point to support him and that family at Solstice Sat at Bar Smith (BEST house scene in Phx) ..every weekend I can...He's simply the Godfather of House for Phx... although he would never admit that.. ....he's too humble. Nothing but his heart, soul and positive energy when he plays. He's one of my most cherished friends, my personal favorite DJ and I adore him!..... Phoenix, we are blessed to have him!!


What can you say about this wonderful human being that those that truly know him don't already know...?.. I've been following Pete since Chupa days.... (long ago)...and I make a point to be at Solstice Sat ( BEST house music scene in the valley ).. every week to support that he is one of my greatest friends... House Godfather for Phx... YES... he is. He's too humble to admit that however... Beautiful person.... Hey Phoenix, ...we are lucky to have him!! Love you Pete!


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