Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: DJ Fender-Rose

Categories: Q&A

fender rhodes.jpg

What are your thoughts on Christopher Cross? Hall & Oates? Men with beards so tickly that kissing them makes you giggle? If you answered with a blush to any of these mentions, get thyself to the Attic on a Tuesday night, where you'll be swimming in soft rock with the Sailing DJs. Much like their unrelated peers over at Yacht Rock, these dudes refuse to feel emasculated by buttery ballads written by men who (more often than not) shun the razor. The soundtrack to your parents' wine and cheese parties in the '70s suburbs is taking a turn in one of the Mission's coziest DJ dives. Sailing is co-captained by one Justin Frahm, a player in a number of bands and on the turntables (if you know what I mean ladies, these are smooth hits after all). And you can get the yacht really rocking on Tuesday, Feb. 24, when the Sailing spinners celebrate three years charting soft waters.

Name: Justin Frahm (or, when pressed for a 'DJ name,' DJ Fender-Rose)

Club night(s): Sailing, Tuesday nights at the Attic, 9:30 p.m. to 2 a.m.

Style(s) of music you spin:
Soft rock and smooth soul (smooth rock and soft soul)

Tell us a little about Sailing: Sailing was conceived (three years ago this month) to fill a friends' Tuesday night bartending shift. My DJ partner, Kurt Carpenter (DJ Spinnaker) and I had been lifelong fans of the smooth, bearded sounds of the late '60s through early '80s and thought the time might be right for an evening of it (see next question). We're on our fourth bartender since our inception, but still going strong.

How does your club night relate to Yacht Rock?
We are not affiliated in any way with the Yacht Rock fellas and their wonderfully amusing films, but we have communicated with them, shared mutual blessings, etc. How it relates is time-based: those movies were premiering around the time we got asked to get an evening of music together, and we thought "Why not make use of the cultural currency these films are generating... people are starting to warm to the fact that it's OK to still like Hall and Oates, and that 'Steal Away' by Robbie Dupree is a helluva song, etc..." So we figured we would parlay it into a night. Where we diverge from Yacht Rock is that we go beyond the margins of the Toto/Hall and Oates/Journey/The Eagles/etc bands that are parodied in their films. There was an amazing amount of quality music churned out in the '70s by really ace players and we seek to play it all... as long as it's smooth.


What sort of experience do you have with a real sailing vessel?
I grew up on the Great Lakes (on the ice planet of Michigan) so I did plenty of sailing as a kid and a teen. Loved it. Unfortunately adulthood has seemed to have misplaced my sea legs and my last sailing excursion was on a fifty-two foot boat out to the Farallons. Awesome, right? Yeah, shoulda been, but it was incredibly choppy so I spent a lot of the trip discovering sea sickness. However, while hanging my head over the side I saw two gray whales, an entire pod of porpoises, and about one million sea lions.

What sorts of cocktails go well with your club night? We tend to keep it simple in the booth--Jameson is the drink of choice behind the turntables. But for patrons I recommend Cape Cods.

Where'd your DJ name come from? I dunno, good question. I guess it just kinda popped out one day. Like I said, I'm not the biggest fan of taking on a DJ name if you're just going to spin records, radio-style, at your local dive, but Fender-Rose... it just sounded right for our chosen genre. It's like you took 'Fender-Rhodes' (which is truly the backbone of about 70 percent of the music we play) and Stevie Nicksified it by 35 percent.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head: "I Don't Need You" by Rupert Holmes, "Late for the Sky" by Jackson Browne, and "Walk a Thin Line" by Fleetwood Mac.

Of all the records you spin, which artist has the best facial hair? Jesus, are you kidding? That's a tall order... OK, as far as the solo artists go, the prize goes to Larry Santos for his quintessential '70s beard/shag hairdo. But really, the grand prize has to go to a behind the scenes player who probably appears on at least 25 percent of the records we play: LA session bassist extraordinaire and member of "The Section," Leland Sklar. Have you seen this guy? He looks like the fucking Lorax...

Musical mantra: "Keep it smooth..."

Favorite DJ experience:
In the first year of Sailing the "Spookytooth McDan" tour came to town, which was a joint bill of Michael McDonald and Steely Dan. Holy fuck, right? We thought so too, especially since it was happening on a Tuesday. So we chartered a white limo and brought a group of Sailing friends down to the Shoreline. But that's not really a DJ memory... OK, we have this plastic, radio-controlled yacht called the Christina hanging on the wall behind the turntables. In the weeks leading up to his last night with us, our most recent bartender had been promising to "christen the Christina." In the middle of his last evening he grabbed a bottle of leftover New Years champagne and walloped it over the bow of the boat (which probably weighed one third as much as the bottle). The boat flew off the wall like a missile and narrowly grazed Kurt's chest (Kurt ducks pretty quickly, it ends up). We were hyperventilating-laughing as we tried to tell the bartender, "No, no, you christen things at the BEGINNING, not the end..."

Worst request: About once every week you get this question: "Uh.. I really like your music and dig what you're doing but... can you play something I can dance to?" After the appropriate pause and mildly pandering look, you point out the beat to the song that is playing and then remind them that it is a soft rock and smooth soul night.

Most treasured vinyl score: Oh, that's easy: A Brazilian pressing copy of "Clube da Esquina" by Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges. Everyone should have a copy of that record. But good luck finding it on vinyl.

What's one thing a Sailing DJ should never be without? What do you get for someone who has it all, already?

What other music-related projects are you currently working on?
Well there's a can of worms... My new project is an exercise in smooth called NIGHTSHUTTLE. I also play keys fulltime in Jeffrey Luck Lucas' band and in the Harbours. My goal this year is to play one live set with every band I personally know. Oh, and I also play with a crack team of musicians called the Gold Star Band, and we do bimonthly(ish) tribute night at the Make-Out Room in which we back up a never-ending roster of luminaries from the SF scene, singing the songs of the artist being honored. Our last tribute was Lee Hazlewood, and the next one--which will be on Sunday, March 1st at 8 p.m.--will be (drumroll) Fleetwood Mac! You should come, it will be awesome.

Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself:
"Hey, who let you in here..?"

Next time we can see you spin: This coming, and every, Tuesday at the Attic. February 24th will be the Sailing Third Anniversary.


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