DJ Alvin Bitsue on Strip Club Music, Crate Digging, the State of Phoenix's Punk Scene, and Getting into Fights Over Records
Bitsue, a member of the Navajo nation, also has major yen for crate digging and is constantly haunting local record stores and scoring new additions to his ample vinyl collection. Many of these platters find their way into the various DJ sets he's performed over the years at local joints, including a few Phoenix strip clubs.
We recently interviewed Bitsue on the kind of jams he's spun while ecdysiasts work the stage, as well as his greatest vinyl finds, his opinion on local punk, and several other topics.
How did you get into the DJ game?
By thinking I could mimic what I saw in Beat Street and destroying my parents' record player. I would scratch my parents' country, Motown and rock records as an early teenager. That later formed into getting a shitty paper route to buy 45s from the record store and starting my collection.
How well did you scratch in those days?
Horribly! At that age I think it was a matter of trying to impress your friends who were also just as bad. I remember my record player being some J.C. Penney's or Sears brand that wasn't made for scratching nor were my friends but we did what we could and compared to what DJs now can do we were horrible in comparison. I just watched a friends son DJ awhile back at Blunt Club and I was greatly impressed and think about the difference of technology of the era's.
How's your scratching these days?
I haven't really scratched on my turntables much these days. I work a lot. Plus, I don't like ruining my records.
What genres do you prefer?
I always find myself listening to old school hip-hop, country/western and classic rock. And by classic rock I mean '60s and '70s, not '80s or '90s. Stuff I grew up hearing around me from parents or other family members. Nowadays, [it's] a lot of the same things mixed with punk, hardcore, oi!, soul and skinhead reggae. I listen to too much stuff to be totally honest, my interests are all over the place. But I will say a lot of the stuff I listen to isn't Top 40 friendly by any means.
Where are some of the places where you've most recently performed?
Sugar 44, the bar I work at on the weekends I was DJing at on Wednesday, and more recently the Hell City Saints C.C. car show and another car show. I've been asked recently to spin records but they don't pan out or become a mere faded memory.
Have you ever gotten compliments on your selector skills at the strip club, or were patron's attentions elsewhere?
Working at the strip club was interesting. At first it was great cause I had a group of open-minded girls who actually flipped thru my collection and I found myself playing stuff I liked to hear. Stuff like Sisters of Mercy, Deee-Lite, Al Green, Pixies, The Roots...I even once played some Miles Davis, I was all over the musical spectrum.
Then what happened?
But like how fads come and go, so do girls in that industry. I went from having girls who were open-minded and liked what I played to girls who only wanted to hear Top 40 shit which I don't do. All that "blingy blangy" type stuff. As for customers, a lot of them were impressed with the fact that there was a real DJ with real turntables and real records. People get really excited when they see two turntables and vinyl and share stories of their own or want to flip thru your records.
Ever date a stripper?
Who hasn't? It's what you make of it. I really don't know how to explain it, but I will say it's not all it's cracked up to be and can be nerve wracking at times.