DJ Roya Talks Obscura, Tron Legacy, Daft Punk, Temper Trap, Pussycat Dolls, and More

Categories: DJ Dossier
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DJ Roya
Name: Michele Chinichian

AKA: DJ Roya

Current gigs: Obscura, held at Rips Bar every second Saturday of the month.

Genres spun: I play a blend of indie, New Wave, and Britpop at Obscura. I also enjoy spinning '80s pop, old school, electro, and the occasional Top 40 guilty pleasure.

How did you get started as a DJ? It was kind of a fluke as it was never something I sought out. My friend asked if I could help her with the music for a new night at Rogue Bar. My transitions between songs were heinous, but quickly realized I had a knack for reading a crowd and getting people to dance. I had the best time! I've always loved music, dancing, and hosting parties so it made sense that this would be something I would enjoy. The owners asked us to stay on as resident DJs and that was it -- I was hooked!

Explanation behind your DJ name: Roya is actually my middle name. I felt odd about having people call me anything other than my name. It's Persian for "fantasy." A close friend teases me relentlessly about this.

Best experience as a DJ: Getting to DJ with legend like Andy Rourke of The Smiths was an unforgettable experience. He signed everyone's records and took photos with all his fans -- he was such a nice guy.

And the worst? After a long day at work I guest DJ'd at a friend's event [and] no one showed up. When the two hosts and bartender went outside for a smoke, I was literally DJing to no one!

What's something about you that might surprise others? When people see my shameless dance moves on the dance floor they tend to be surprised to discover that more often than not, I am completely sober! I'm also a part-time college professor and have my own private practice. That also seems to surprise people.

Other clubs and events where you've performed: Hot Pink!, Crotch Rocket, Shake!, Retrospect, Kiss & Tell, Cherry Bomb, Wild Rumpus.

Which bygone club do you miss the most: I have so many fond memories seeing countless shows at Nita's Hideaway. I really miss that venue.

What's your opinion on the Valley's hipster dance scene? What would you change if you could? I've had fun at other dance parties, but one thing that I would like to see is a more consistent identity at these nights. I've attended advertised indie nights that wind up playing a several hour hip-hop set, then the next time I go it'll feel like an electro night or an '80s party. I like all those genres, but the revolving door of guest DJs makes it really difficult to plan what you're in the mood for or which friends to go with.

What's the story behind Obscura? It was created as a response to the existing hipster dance scene in the Valley. We wanted a night that combined the classic alternative music we loved in our youth, with our favorite indie songs of today versus faceless electro or remixes. We never marketed ourselves as a hipster night. We care more about music than being perceived as hip or cool. In the process, our fans embraced us as the "anti-hipster dance night" for down to earth music lovers. We've created an atmosphere that is unpretentious and eclectic in terms of subcultures and ages, which is how we like it. More than anything, it's about having fun!

How hard is it to come up with a theme every month? Coming up with the theme is easy: We build it around the hottest new music/movie releases or touring bands. Obtaining an exorbitant amount of prizes and giveaways to execute that theme is the hard part. Our promoter Robden Brethauer truly deserves all the credit for that. He hooks our crowd up.

What's been your favorite Obscura theme thus far? Our "Love is a Battlefield" dance-off for Pat Benatar tickets was by far my favorite. Our emcee did an incredible job of commanding the dance floor and the crowd really gave it all they had. It was amazing! It still makes me smile every time I think about it.

What's the best way to score prizes at Obscura? Arrive early! This will greatly increase your odds. Often, we have some swag leftover that goes unclaimed at the end of the night so the die-hard dancers that are still busting a move at closing time usually don't find themselves empty handed.

Biggest giveaway you've offered: Concert tickets to Depeche Mode, Sharon Jones, Sigur Ros, and Ray Davies (of the Kinks) come to mind.

Will you see Tron Legacy because its Tron or because of the soundtrack? I'm a big fan of Daft Punk, so that is definitely a draw.

Which do you prefer -- Daft Punk or Daft Punk'd (a.k.a. the local tribute band)? I'm going to have to go with the original.

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