DJ Jason is interviewed for the Goth Magazine, Carpe Nocturne
~ Published Fall 2012 ~
[Carpe Nocturne] What got you started as a DJ and when?
- I was in college and there was no one else available with a good record collection. I was just getting started in 87-88. I really didn’t take it very seriously and never expected so much praise or the demand & work that followed.
[Carpe Nocturne] How did you choose your name?
- Back then using a taken name was something that Mainstream DJs and Hip Hop DJs did. It was considered more serious and more authentic to use one’s real name and not something corny or silly.
[Carpe Nocturne] Where did you learn your craft?
- I learned it from doing it. Spinning radio is very different from spinning college parties or spinning in the nightclubs. Each has something to offer. When it comes down to it, though, there is no substitute for spinning 5 to 6 hours a night at 3 to 4 popular weekly events for 10 years consecutively.
[Carpe Nocturne] Do you have any preference in decks that you use and why?
- I like the Pioneer CMX 5000 , which I used at Alchemy, best. It read CDs easily and had a nice solid feel to it. I currently use the Denon S-1000s, at Faerie Ring and INCANTATION since they are lightweight and have pretty much every feature I would use that their bigger cousins have. I also am currently using a Numark dual deck at Absolution and Through The Mirror, since it gets the job done.
[Carpe Nocturne] What are your preferred music genres to spin and are you known for a specific style?
- I am known for spinning a wide variety of purely Gothic music starting with Joy Division in the 70s all the way through to today’s cutting edge demo bands like Terminal Gods.
[Carpe Nocturne] Do you get to spin at many events and, if so, where have you traveled to in the past year?
- I have the old fashioned opinion that if you are traveling within the country for gigs you really aren’t doing well where you live. It has long been a tradition and a matter of pride to only spin in NYC. I have turned down countless gigs to travel nearby over the years. I am also always in favor of having fun on vacation over working. That said, this year, I did spin at Ulteria in CT as a personal favor to the promoter who is a friend. Last year, I did the same for a friend in NJ at a QXTs. I’ve spun overseas also in the past, but only because the promoter paid for both me and my girlfriend’s flights and boarding.
[Carpe Nocturne] What is the furthest you’ve traveled to spin your material?
[Carpe Nocturne] What are the biggest events you’ve spun at?
- Black Party at Limelight comes to mind, since there were 1500 people there, but really my type of specialist spinning is best geared towards a second or smaller room. I’ve had better times spinning for 100s of people than for thousands.
[Carpe Nocturne] What are your favorite large events?
- Of those currently running in NYC, that would be Through The Mirror, Absolution & INCANTATION.
- Past NYC events would be: Darkwave @ Communion, Tocsin, Long Black Veil, Alchemy, Batcave, Albion, Wasteland.
- As for festivals, I like Wave Gotik Treffen, Whitby Gothic Weekend (and also Trev Bamford’s now defunct Carnival of Souls in Derby, UK).
[Carpe Nocturne] Do you have any favorite venues/clubs to spin at and why?
- Limelight & Avalon were great, since that church was such a pretty & impressive one to spin in. Coney Island High and CBGBs were great since they had good staff and because they were really large & crazy with punk rock type energy. Downtime had a bunch of familiar friends working there, so it was casual. Best of all by far, though, was The Tunnel, since the extremely luxurious DJ booth room alone was bigger than many clubs. I’ll never forget having such a huge VIP room for my dozen+ friends to spaciously lounge in while I spun to the floor below. The Tunnel also had top notch equipment.
[Carpe Nocturne] What do you feel the state of this scene is today and, in your eyes, has it changed much (and how) since you first started spinning?
- The scene in NYC is still rebounding back from rock bottom. The band scene and the dance scene suffered terribly in NYC after the loss of both Alchemy and Albion within a few months. I should never have taken a break. Everything fell apart after I ended Alchemy and little good came thereafter until I returned to full time production work.
- The scene in Germany is healthy and vibrant still. The scene in England is having a great rebirth of good goth rock bands after a long time of stagnation.
[Carpe Nocturne] Have you ever appeared in any other publications or on the radio?
- Yes, though I can’t remember details. A friend of Trev Bamford of Nightbreed Records came to NYC and taped me for rebroadcasting on the radio in the UK in the 90s. I also ran my own FM radio show in the early 90s. There was a very flattering piece written on me by Chris from Requiem in White and Judith that appeared in the Sentimentalist. I’ve been in the Aquarian (NJ author Doktor John) tons of times. I’ve been mentioned in The Village Voice also. Probably in Seconds also, since I was friends with the 2 owners and they came to my Monday often… Honestly, I never cared much about such things, though, since my music has been primarily for the underground and not for regular ordinary people. At Alchemy, for example, we had a no camera policy and we always rejected the press’s advances when possible.
[Carpe Nocturne] Do you have any specific bands whose music you really enjoy spinning and why?
- I have personal favorites, but they are favorites for personal reasons.
[Carpe Nocturne] I imagine you’ve met many of the artists whose music you include in your set. DO you have any favorites and why?
- Rozz Williams (of Christian Death & Shadow Project, etc) might be my favorite. He was really one of a kind.
[Carpe Nocturne] Are there any bands you’d like to meet?
- I have met lots of bands and singers over the years. I am also in contact with most of the goth bands that are current (I book bands, so I have to be). If it were possible to go back in time, I would like to meet Ian Curtis of Joy Division.
[Carpe Nocturne] Are there any Venues/Clubs or Events you’d really like to spin at anywhere in the world?
- Not that come to mind in particular, but a friend is putting together a european tour for DJ Xtine (of Shadowlands) and myself, so I will be doing some of that sort of thing soon anyway.
[Carpe Nocturne] Any other DJ’s you admire and like to spin with?
- Not that I haven’t already spun with. For me, I really appreciate when a venue has multiple rooms, since every DJ ought to have his or her own room in order to really spin well. Doing a set is not really spinning, IMO.
[Carpe Nocturne] What direction do you think our “scene” is going in and do you feel it’s positive?
- In NYC, it’s still in recovery from past club losses (Mother, Downtime, CBGBs, CB’s Gallery, Coney Island High, Limelight, etc.), but yes, overall it is positive.
- In America, I’d say that the scene needs to take less direction and stay away from trendy distractions like hipster-goth and steam punk.
- Globally, it is doing really well. There are so many new goth bands all over the world and Germany is still doing great being our flagship championing gothic culture. England is even getting better after years of “looking for the next new thing in goth”.
[Carpe Nocturne] Are there any parts of the country/world where you would rather be based and for what reasons?
- I’d rather live in Germany or England simply because I love their culture, but all of my best contacts and most of my DJ history is here in NYC.
[Carpe Nocturne] Do you have any new music you are spinning and how is it being received?
- Yes, about 1/2 of what I spin is new goth and I’ve held tons of record release parties. The new material is going over great on the dancefloor!
[Carpe Nocturne] Are there any new, emerging artists you’d like to mention and let our readers watch for?:
- Let’s just leave it at Terminal Gods. They are the best new band to come out of England in the last decade and they have yet to put out their first full album. They are a brilliant band with catchy danceable goth rock songs with really great lyrics, a fun drive and an ear for tradition! They are also easy to segue since they have interesting intros and build-ups that can be cued well to work with many types of song endings.
(the below was printed as a preface to the interview questions)
Hi, My name is Jason. Like all of the early and original NYC Goth Scene DJs, I use my real name as my DJ name; DJ Jason.
I’ve been a music enthusiast and serious collector since I was a kid. I started DJing in college (Bennington) and I had involvement in my hometown university’s radio station in 1987. Later, I had my first DJ mixer and Cerwin-Vega speakers in 88 or 89. I loved and still love sound equipment, lighting & of course, fog-machines! I organized parties in college. I regularly made mix tapes, organized and DJed music for dorm-house theme events (300 to 500 people). Later in graduate school, I had my own radio show called Necrophiliac Relationship (named after a Rozz Williams lyric).
I loved going to concerts, shows and, later on, nightclub events. For a long time there were no events that played strictly gothic music. ”Goth clubs” at that time were actually Alternative Clubs that played mostly mainstream Alternative songs and little to no actual Goth… but there were great concerts and a lot of fans waiting for good music. A purely Goth nightclub event, Club Darkwave, changed things and became the start of an ongoing New York City tradition. At the time, DJ David of Club Darkwave was the first & only DJ (to be joined later by DJ Vanessa Miasma who later became the first all Goth DJ to spin at The BANK when it was a new club) to spin purely Goth. His sets and style were very inspirational. In between College (BFA) and Graduate School (MFA), I managed an underground record store called Secret Sounds. Later, because no one else with as comprehensive of a music collection was available, I was recruited to DJ and reluctantly started spinning (and promoting) in Manhattan. I consider this to be my start as as a real DJ. Alchemy Mondays began in Sept. 1996 and ended in 2006. It was a weekly event at CBGB’s Gallery. The club space was the largest that any pure Goth party ever had in NYC history. I was the only DJ during open hours. Most events then only had one DJ per room and our door girl/Co-promoter (the other DJ) only sometimes spun after the door was closed. Alchemy was a very big hit from the start. It fast became a pillar of the scene and innovated many later standard promotional ideas, tactics and themes. While, exceptionally successful and popular, Alchemy, “New York City’s longest running pure Goth Night”, was also was in the NYC musical tradition of past short-lived “pure goth” nights like Club Darkwave with DJ David, the famous Tocsin with DJ Daniel and some little nights featuring DJ Patrick such as the original version of Salvation (run by James Galus). In addition, Alchemy hosted between one to three live gothic, synth & industrial bands (at 11pm) almost every week. My Alchemy co-promoter, Althea, and I traveled to all of the biggest festivals in the UK and to Wave Gotik Treffen in Germany yearly, so I was always able to play the very best cutting edge underground songs. No other DJ in the scene had as much specific music, old or new. Very few people guest DJed at Alchemy, but many wished to. Some of Alchemy‘s memorable events were “the Miss Gothic NYC Pageant” an annual event, “Bash Fat Bob” a Cure Tribute party, “Gothic Lip-synch night”, a crazy competition & “Secret Satan” an annual gothic gift exchange. People loved the annual “Gothic Easter Hunt” we hosted too. Every Egg had a drink ticket in it. Previous to Alchemy, there were no goth theme nights in NYC outside of regular holiday parties.
I did a night with James Galus called Shadowplay (weekly) where I booked 6 djs to spin on the same day. This number of DJs in one room was unheard of previously. Later, in 98, I started the irregularly running multi-dj Absolution event. At first I only booked Goth DJs, but since it was so successful, Industrial and New Wave DJs were added to the 2nd smaller room (24 djs total at max). It was held in CBGB’s basement, the Limelight, Flamingo East, Seho, Alphabet Lounge (only once, due to a disaster at the Limelight!) & more recently @ Youth Palace, UC 87, The Annex, Fontana’s, Salon Bordello & Tammany Hall. Absolution helped all of the current scene (then young) DJs by giving them a nice dance floor & big crowd to spin to, promote to and network with. It was the largest Gothic event in the city outside of The BANK’s mainstream Alternative Saturday night, which was very commercial in contrast.
1997 also was when Wasteland (monthly, then weekly) at the famous Coney Island High rock & roll club started. It was the first “Classic Goth” themed night in NYC and was a precursor to the Death Rock revival movement in NYC. Joey Ramone’s Brother was the bartender and it stayed open so late that it was always light outside when we left.
I spun the main floor for one of the earliest big NYC Vampyre nights, Flesh and Blood at The Bank, and later (a solo room weekly) at Long Black Veil at Mother through to it’s death and rebirth as Xorvia at True nightclub. After Xorvia ended, I DJed and co-promoted a weekly called Electra-City at the same club with Ian FFord and Hal Gould (The BANK). I spun in place of Patrick at Albion/Batcave and later at Albion Saturdays every month including it’s very last night.
I spun my own floor for DJ Father Jeff’s return to the nightlife at the weekly Radio Deutchland (run by DJ Ash) @ the Pyramid and later for his weekly Ward 6 party. Later, I hired DJ Father Jeff, DJ Ian FFord & DJ Jarek to spin with me for my two level Sundown Fridays weekly event @ Flamingo East.
I was the only DJ at the monthly party The Court of Lazarus from it’s time at Jeckle and Hyde (2002) through to 2007 at the Slipper room.
I spun in my own room at the mega-clubs, in the Limelight for Communion weekly, and the Tunnel for The Prophesy. Overseas, I was invited to spin at Cafe Noir at the original Batcave space, Gossips, in the UK, but chose to only spin at The Slimelight in “the Goth room”. I also spun at the NYC edition of Slimelight. There were a great many other brief club nights I worked at also, but the previously mentioned were all long running or very important to the scene.
I have had near countless special appearance DJ spots too, such as Click and Drag @ Mother, Exedor @ the Bank & @ The Pyramid, Heroes @ Mother, Sanctuary @ Sanctuary, Church @ Avalon (formerly the Limelight) and many, many more. I was spinning in different clubs 4 or 5 nights (4 to 6 hours each) a week on average. One October I was paid to spin at separate large events in NYC every day for the entire month. For ten years, Ian FFord and I were the only 2 truly “professional” DJs in the industry. We had no time for other work at all. I was the most popular and in demand Pure-Goth New York DJ for those ten years in NYC’s gothic industrial scene. (btw, I am also easily the most experienced Goth DJ in NYC with many times the most hours behind the mixer)
All of this while, I was teaching, grooming and giving CDRs (I had a professional “stand alone” CD recorder years before computer burners were affordable) to many new (and some old) DJs. I started & resurrected more young and old DJs than any other promoter in NYC’s gothic scene. I also created, judged, produced and ran NYC’s GOTH AWARD SHOW (with Voltaire as MC in 2004), handing out awards for categories like “Longest Running Event”, “Best Door Person”, “Longest Running Goth DJ”, etc, etc. It was a very funny event and well enjoyed by all that attended. A few DJs even used their comical awards as tag-lines for years after.
For personal reasons involving both a relationship breakup and family promises, I had to leave NYC for over a year starting in early 2008. I had insured that my old nightclub and promoting jobs would go to people I thought were friends.
Thanks to the love and support given by DJ Xtine, a fellow veteran promoter, I returned to NYC in 2009 and resumed doing the scene favorite party, ABSOLUTION in an effort to breathe some life and class into the surprisingly weakened NYC Gothic Industrial scene. Since 2009, Absolution ran weekly for over 3 years and featured all of the current stars in the scene. It also hosted many record release parties and tour promotions. I also resumed bringing underground gothic bands to NYC with a biweekly goth band event on Saturdays called INCANTATION that features dark acts and performances. INCANTATION recently moved to a new venue, The Local 269, following the closing of the Tribeca venue, Uncle Mike’s, where it ran for every other week with 5 to 7 bands for a year.
Would you like to mention any clubs you spin at regularly and/or any upcoming events you’ll be spinning at? If so, please list below:
- Currently, I am doing several regularly occurring events such as Absolution (multi DJ night), Through The Mirror (BYOB dance event), Faerie Ring (performance and dance event) and INCANTATION (live band event).
- Check our website for the most up to date event listings: www.absolution.nyc
Tell us a bit about yourself, such as…
- I think it’s best if people come to the club and hear what I spin. I don’t like to giveaway valuable information by posting setlists and such. It’s important to have some mystery and class. I’ve been ripped off by a lot of DJs after putting in the work to make songs successful on the dancefloor. I’d rather limit the problem than increase it!
- In general, I am not a fan of movies.
- Mainstream American culture
Hobbies/Interests Other than DJing:
- Chess Enthusiast, European and Asian Traveller, Japanese Cuisine Foodie, Audiophile