DJentrification on The Palace, World Music, and Phoenix's Hidden Culture
He's not a typical DJ, finding kindred spirits in guys like legendary Phoenix oddballs like Johnny D and Eddy Detroit as opposed to the glitzy club scene. "I love Johnny D, and Eddy is a big inspiration to me. He gave me my first drum," Djentrification says.
Though he's known for getting down at The Bikini Lounge's weekly 602'uesday night, Djentrification recently kicked off a brand new Saturday night gig at FilmBar. Dubbed The Palace, the new series offers a place for him to explore music close to his heart, and finds him spinning cuts from all around the globe.
Name: Alex Votichenko
Regular gigs: The only weekly that I do is 602 'uesdays, at Bikini Lounge, as far as an actual weekly. But this [The Palace] is new; this Saturday will be the [third] one. I am definitely going to do four of them, and then I'll just play it by ear. I get sort of overwhelmed with my workload and I'm hesitant to take on a whole new weekly, but the set up there, the way the bar is, it's hard to resist the offer. It's really ideal for it, as far as the space, and as far as [Filmbar owner] Kelly [Aubey] having my back with supporting the night and the concept of it, so it may end up being every week. For at least a month, I'm going to do them, which is why I made a Facebook page.
What genres are you playing at The Palace?
I'm playing, man, there's a lot a lot of different sorts of music from all around the world. I'm playing stuff from Thailand, Turkish stuff, Ethiopian stuff, Bollywood/Indian stuff, even South American, like Peruvian. [Last] Saturday, my friend Melo brought a mix of cumbias, newer cumbias from Argentina, stuff like that.
It's just kind of endless as far as source material. I play a lot of world music when I DJ regularly, like in my set, but this night can be focused just on that. There isn't another night like this and I feel like Phoenix is really ready for something like this, just all international music. There is a lot of stuff that doesn't get exposed, because people are rushing to try and promote the next new thing, and people are hesitant because they think it's too 'out there' for people, [but] I see the response regularly. People are really into hearing different stuff from around the world. Some of it is brand new, some of it is older. It's a mix.
Are there specific labels you seek out as far as archival world music?
So there's a label called Sublime Frequencies, that was started by the Bishop brothers [of Sun City Girls], from their travels. They would make these recordings, even crazy radio recordings, when they were in other countries, and they started releasing them. But their label has quickly turned into kinda the most ahead of the curve world label as far as world music, like they are putting out really big names like Omar Souleyman, a Syrian Dabke musician.
There's another label called Finders Keepers, a really good [label] from Europe, and they are putting out a lot of stuff as far as Turk music, and Iranian, and some really good European stuff.
Did you get that Jean-Claude Vannier record they put out, L'enfant Assassin Des Mouches?
I wish I hadn't slept on that. That's completely out there. Amazing style. I've heard some of it. I go to YouTube and listen to that stuff when I don't have the records. They are expensive! I literally take my burrito money, when I sell burros, and I have to be careful with how much money I spend on records.
Are you a fan of Now Again Records?
Yep. I'm a fan of Now Again, especially since they put out some stuff from Phoenix. They put out a Michael Liggins record, and he was an incredible funk musician from Phoenix, and Now Again reissued his stuff. We did a Phoenix soul version of 602 'uesdays a couple of months ago that was sort of an unofficial release party for a Phoenix funk comp [on The Numero Group label] that had a bunch of stuff from the Liggins brothers. Rocky is still here -- I went over to his house to show him this record that was all him and his brother's music.
If we are talking about labels, I have to say Folkways, as far as original international and sound documentation. But that's just a lot of new stuff. A lot of the stuff I play is from this crazy weird label in Beirut, and I don't even know how to pronounce it.
Some of the records are genuine original pressings that I found looking through the cracks, that other people didn't. It's a cool thing for me There are really talented DJs just out there, and I can hit them up and ask them to put together a world set. It's a cool challenge to them, and people are going to bring completely different stuff to the table.
Its just endless. I'm not like the expert in world music, but I definitely have my claws in it. I love it a lot. I grew up hearing music from my parents, stuff like Bollywood, and I would be like, 'This is so weird, why are you playing it?' When I got older, it caught my ear, and I started listening to their records. I guess they used to get some of that stuff at Circles.
Do you spin mostly vinyl, or get this stuff digitally?
I prefer vinyl. There's some music you can only find digitally, and there's stuff you can only find on wax. It goes both ways. I'm not going to make a hardcore rule or be puritanical about it, but for the most part, it's mostly vinyl over there.
What's would you like to see happen with The Palace? Any grand plans?
Eventually, the idea is to get try and get actual live musical groups around the Valley. Part of the idea of this is to push international culture here in Phoenix. There really is a lot hiding in the woodwork, people might not think of it, but if you know the town, there's festivals and a lot of different people from around the different places in the world living here. You can see it on the street, with Somali women with their saris waiting for the bus. There's pockets of culture hidden all over this town. I've heard about this Cambodian wedding band that plays traditional -- really good stuff -- and there's Balinese Gamelan troupes, there's African musicians. It's endless. I don't know the half of it.
People always come here and think there's no culture. But there's so much culture, to me. Maybe I'm just lucky because I've lived here my whole life. I'm no expert, but it's out there. It's like wildlife. The most common misconception about the desert is that there's no life. But you have to look under the rocks, and wait till night time [to experience the] community.