Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Shane King
Now he's one of the city's electro tastemakers, running the production company Hacksaw Entertainment (after working with Blasthaus) and hitting the decks often himself. Tonight King reigns over filthy-mouthed rappers at Dirt, a nasty little party he's DJing at Madrone. Since you won't be able to ask him anything over all that sleazy rap and electro, we got Shane to answer some of our burning questions here first.
Name: Shane King
Club night(s): 'Upgrade' at 330 Ritch on 3rd Saturdays; 'Dirt' at Madrone Lounge 1st & 3rd Fridays; a new happy hour called 'Exhale, Fridays' at Project One Gallery starting March 20th (with local heavyweights Vin Sol, King Most, and DJ Centipede), and a new monthly called 'Dance.Repeat.' at Paradise Lounge beginning on April 3rd, the first featuring the SF debut of DC's Nadastrom.
Style(s) of music you spin: I like to play a little of everything. From long buttery disco edits, to tech/electro house, to B-more club & Miami bass, to international stuff like Kuduro, to '90s rap. I love it all.
What's the idea behind Hacksaw Entertainment? The idea behind Hacksaw Entertainment was to create an event promotions company that was based on quality, simplicity, and communication. The quality part may sound a bit obvious, but we decided early on to be selective and sometimes risky with the acts that we bring to SF.
We're trying to create a relationship of trust with the folks who come out to our events, so even if they haven't heard much about an act, they can expect to walk away pleased. Our responsibility as promoters, and as DJs, is to find the balance between delivering what wants to be heard and introducing what needs to be heard. We've also decided to keep the line-ups simple, not booking too many DJs, but booking the appropriate opening talent, who help to strengthen the bill rather than water it down.
Promoting events is primarily about communication, so we're trying to make that communication more personal, and informative. Along with basic info about any given event we like to supply some context, such as free tracks, interviews, video, etc. We're trying to be creative with our approach to promoting, as much to engage the audience as to keep it fun and interesting for us. The past few months have been a phenomenal learning experience, and we have some exciting things in store for the months to come.
How do you usually find the talent you end up working with? Since Hacksaw is comprised of DJs, we're able to test the waters and find out what people want to hear. It helps that this city is rife with talent as well, such as local producers Lazer Sword, Ghosts on Tape, Ana Sia, and White Girl Lust, to name a few.
What's the idea behind Dirt? Dirt is the brain child of DJ Morale (Tom Hamilton). He wanted his first party to be at Madrone Lounge, and invited me to be a guest on the first night. Along with the other Dirt resident Kap10 Harris, we immediately worked well together, and I stuck around for the duration. The idea behind Dirt was creating a party where we could play the dirtiest rap music and the dirtiest electro. Apparently there are others out there that like filthy music as much as we do and the party has been going quite well. We've changed the name to Dirty Rotten Dance Party, but I've been a bit slow at designing a new flyer.
What came first for you, being a DJ or a promoter? It started with a midnight radio show buried in stacks and stacks of CDs and records in a tiny dark broadcast studio in 2000. I did radio for years before DJing at bars and clubs, and very much miss the medium. DJing on the radio is very different than DJing in a club, in that you're performing to an unmeasurable, invisible audience. There's really know way of knowing if there are a thousand people listening or nobody at all (the latter was usually the case with the first show I'm sure). Then came DJing in clubs, and eventually promoting out of necessity. I'd learned the very basics of photoshop while interning at XLR8R magazine, and started designing and photocopying paper flyers for my first party at 222 Club. From there it slowly became my job.
How does working on both sides of the spectrum help you? Empathy is important in any relationship, so it helps to understand the perspective of both the DJ and the promoter.
Musical mantra: Make 'Em Say Uhh
Favorite DJ experience: An unlikely cosmic situation has arisen, where an elite group of SF electro DJs (Sleazemore, Swayzee, Nisus, Eric Sharp, Morale) and myself dress up in gold outfits with a bunch of other lunatics and jump around on a flat bed truck adorned with a gold jacuzzi and an insane amount of speakers playing the loudest, grimiest electro music currently available to tens of thousands of people. Its called the Solid Gold Jacuzzi float at Love Fest, and it's so damn fun. Last year's Love Fest float was such a success that we've decided to create a quarterly SGJ party, the first being at supperclub on April 11th, and then eventually tour the world in a solid gold jet.
Worst request: Aside from the constant request from the recently inhabited apartment above me to turn down the music, I'd have to go with any request from someone that knows nothing about music and goes out at night primarily to hook-up, who poke their face over the DJ booth right when I'm mixing a track (every time), looking like an extra from a Kahlua commercial, and asking for something so inane that I'm forced to pretend I speak only Serbian and shrug my shoulders like I don't understand.
Most treasured vinyl score: Too $hort's first single from '85, "Don't Stop Rappin." Not sure if it's worth anything, but its a nice piece of independent Bay Area rap history. The record on my mantle though is an old Elvis album with just his face on the cover, burned all the way around the edges. It was the only record and one of the only things period that barely survived a house fire that took my pops' entire, enormous, record collection back in the day. The King lives.
What other music-related projects are you currently working on? I'm working on a mixtape (ahem, CD rather) for the incredibly talented Oakland band Hottub. I'm also working on adding a few live elements to my DJ sets (you'll see). Oh, and I recently found out that both of my flat mates played trombone in high school band, as did I, so we're thinking about starting a Hall & Oats trombone cover band, or a Mariachi trio, something along those line. (fun fact- when I was like twelve the big number of the year for the band was the theme song to Top Gun. Ah, memories.)
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Q: "Why did you drop out of college two and a half years into a civil engineering degree?" A: "Good question. I realized that enjoying my career was more important than making money. And physics can suck it."
Next time we can see you spin: Tonight (Friday) you can see me at Madrone Lounge for Dirt. Next Wednesday I'll be playing with Boys Noize at the 1 Year Anniversary of Infatuation, and next Saturday (14th) is my birthday party at 330 Ritch with Low B. If you miss these don't worry, I'll be around.