DJ ill-legal? Talks Dubstep, Subversion, Rusko, Lazer Sword, Hyphy, Hovatron, and More

Categories: DJ Dossier

blake ludera.jpg
DJ ill-legal?
Name: Blake Ludera

AKA: DJ ill-legal?

Genres spun: Glitch, dubstep, breakbeats, and hip-hop mostly. I also like to scratch and get into some turntablism stuff, and on rare occassion I'll play house music or drum 'n' bass. I'm really all over the place when it comes to different genres.

Current gigs: My current residency is up at Subversion at Disco on Thursday nights, but I also play a lot of one-off bookings (parties, raves) on the weekends as well as some more "corporate" gigs here and there if the money is right.

How did you get started as a DJ? I grew up in the Chicago area during a pretty exciting period for house music and EDM in general. Then I started going to underage clubs, and found myself really intrigued by what the DJ was doing. When I got a little older, I eventually sold my electric guitar, began collecting vinyl, and saved up to buy my first pair of Technics. From there, just countless hours spent locked in my room, blasting music, and teaching myself until I eventually determined that I was ready to start playing out.

Explanation behind your nickname: I came up with it around the time that there was a lot of controversy surrounding raves and electronic music, with countless parties getting shut down. It was initially part of a concept, not unlike the whole "skateboarding is not a crime" thing, I had developed a logo with a DJ and underneath it said "illegal?," kind of questioning the mentality of why people would go so far to persecute music and those that were trying to share it.

So what's the most illegal thing you've ever done? I'm gonna have to pull a Dave Chapelle and plead the fifth. I will admit that I totally disregarded the warning and cut the tags off my mattress.

How ill do you get during your sets? I'm not the most animated guy up on stage as I'm usually really focused on perfecting the mix, I usually like to let the music do most of the talking. My thing is that I really go out of my way to play tracks that people haven't heard yet, because as a fan that was always my favorite part about going to shows [and] being exposed to new tracks.

Sample mix:
ill intentions by ill-legal?

What's something about you that might surprise others? I was born in the Netherlands, and spent a few years growing up in Hawaii when I was young.

What's your professional mantra? It's better to take a risk and drop a new track then to go with the "sure-shot" and drop something that's played out.

What do you dig about the genres you spin? I like the fact that with glitch and dubstep, they're both relatively young genres. In just the past couple of years I've watched them grown and develop and I like the progression that they're taking. Plus I'm a sucker for a broken beat, I've always loved drums and I think the genres I play cater to that more than the 4/4 stuff.

Does all the glitchy and bass-heavy music ever screw with your hearing? Knowing how important my ears are to me in what I do, I do my best to avoid prolonged exposure to the big soundsystems, I always make sure to take "ear breaks" or position myself in such a way that it won't be as harmful.

Best experience as a DJ? Any time I get to open for a headlining artist is a great experience, but if I had to pick just one I'd say opening up for Lazer Sword this past September for UK Thursdays. I've been following those guys for years, and having the opportunity to not only bring them out to AZ, but also warm up the crowd for them, that was pretty phenomenal.

And the worst? Probably when I opened for Craze at Myst. We had some technical difficulties with a mixer that I was unfamiliar with, I got started late, then after about 15 minutes I was told I needed to play house music, which didn't mesh with what I had prepared whatsoever. That was a rough night to say the least, although I was grateful for the opportunity since Craze is definitely one of my all-time faves.

What are some of the clubs you've performed at over the years? I've played at The Loft (now Whip Lounge), Bash on Ash (now an office building), Chez Monieux (closed), Sugar Daddy's in Scottsdale (I believe that's closed as well), Trax (now the Sail Inn), Homme Lounge, Myst, Cherry Lounge, Bar Smith, and Disco.

Which bygone club do you miss the most? I really liked the Bash on Ash. I think they actually called it "Club Bash" when we held our weekly there, but they had the coolest setup there, and I've got loads of crazy memories from that place.

Preferred poison while DJing? Red Bull and Bacardi O, Malibu and Coke, or MVP's.

Craziest shit you've seen at a gig? During our Blog Bassdown at Subversion a few weeks back, we had a circle of kids on the dance floor that did the whole Jersey Shore "beat up the beat" thing. I got it on video, it's up on YouTube and I have to say, that was a pretty epic moment.

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