Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: DJ Guillermo
Name: Jacob Pena aka DJ Guillermo
Club night(s): Sweater Funk - 80's funk, boogie disco, soulful steppers (every sunday night @ Li Po, free 9pm- 1:30am). The Magnificent 7 - Funk, hip hop, disco, house, dancehall, rock and anything else we feel like throwing into the mix (@ various clubs around the city). Colombia! - Classic cumbia, salsa & Afro Latin (@ various venues around the city). Mercy, Mercy Baby - Soul, boogaloo, Brazilian & rocksteady (every 2nd Weds. @ Casanova - free 9pm-2am). Good Friends and Evil Companions - Could be power pop, post punk, samba soul, hip-hop or whatever else I'm in the mood for that night, but it's always a good time! (every 1st sat. & 3rd thurs @ Dalva, free, 10pm-2am). Behind The Groove - Sweater Funk & Hear The Sounds crew play boogie, electro funk & more @ Koko every 4th Saturday - free 9pm-2am.
Style(s) of music you spin: Depends on the night. Any thing from old Colombian cumbias, new underground hip-hop, boogie disco, 70's & early 80's pop/post punk, dirty soul, funk, Brazilian, salsa, house, dub, dancehall....choose one of my nights, you're bound to find something you'll like.
So what's your story, in 100 words or less? Decided to DJ in Long Beach, CA. in 1998, when I started my own Latin night. I later became a resident at a local soul club called Get On The Good Foot, then moved to San Francisco in 2005. Since then I've been paying my dues while trying to push a grittier & more authentic Latin sound and a funky boogie disco sound. Thank god I fell in with some of the coolest DJ's in the city! Not just in the crews I play with, but with the caliber of folks we have rolling through our nights to hear the tunes. I'm constantly trying to keep the heads interested and the dancefloor happy.
Name of a track you can't get out of your head: "I want your love" - by James Mason. Cool Chris played this Japanese only 12" cut from the mid-nineties @ Sweater Funk back in September 2008 when we first started out, & it just blew our minds! Super sexy mid tempo groover in that steppers soul style that just builds and builds & yet cruises along at the same altitude. So damn pimp. I don't own it, yet I usually start singing it as we break down the Sweater Funk sound system every week.
Since you mention you love breakfast on your MySpace page, what is your perfect breakfast? My scramble. Been working on it for years, changing it slightly here and there. These days it's basically yukon gold potatoes, eggs, yellow onions, mushrooms, spinach, and pasilla chile with queso fresco on the side. Nothing special, it's really all about how fresh the ingredients are. You get 'em from the right market on the right day.
Musical mantra: Do what you do, cuz that's what you do best. Don't try to fake it if it ain't your thing. In other words, I'm not trying to rock some blingin' rap/mash-up/bhangra business. Nothing wrong with it, it just isn't my thing. There are others who are great at it, I know what I can rock with and I'm cool with that.
Favorite DJ experience: Dam-funk @ Sweater Funk on February 15th, 2009. Everyone was screaming for each tune as it was mixed in and clapping as it ended, a constant barrage of pure excitement and genuine appreciation. Condensation was dripping from the ceiling, making the floor slippery, and dancing was chaotic because no one wanted to stop but it was hard to keep your footing and keep grooving! So many great tunes played that night!
Worst request: I was playing a Brazilian boogie disco tune that has always gotten crowds dancing--never had a bad response to this tune. This woman in the loudest dress in world (looked like Carmen Miranda headbutted her) walks over to me and asks if I could play something less cheesy! In that cheesy ass dress!
Most treasured vinyl score: Joe Bataan - "Subway Joe" (Fania - gold label). It isn't the rarest boogaloo record out there. In fact, you could even argue that it may be one of the most popular boogaloo records due to the current re-launch of his career and subsequent interest in his back catalog of quality Latin soul, salsa & boogaloo. This, however, is the record that started it all for me and remains, in my opinion, the most consistent boogaloo/Latin soul party record out there.
What other music-related projects are you currently working on? The Sweater Funk mix CD--our official take on this style of music. Plus Sweater Funk diet pills, toilet paper, theme park, airline & a Sweater Funk manual (just like the Wu Tang Clan!).
What elements would your fantasy club night entail? Seriously? Some food. Really, get some food in more clubs to keep people dancing and not just falling over. Used to be they'd have juices bars in discos back in the day. And some good iced tea. As far as the music, two rooms: Dam-Funk, J-rocc & Kutmah in one room while the other room would have DJ Beto & Quantic playing classic Colombian cumbias & salsa.
What's the idea behind Sweater Funk? My buddy Jon Blunck & I wanted to do a night in SF inspired by our pal Dam-Funk's night in L.A., Funkmosphere. No one would book us to play an entire night of boogie disco, which is basically disco from '78 to the mid 80's with emphasis on (but not limited to) handclaps, heavy synth basslines, slap bass, and lots of love in the lyrics. So Jon Blunck bought a killer sound system and talked Jackie at Li Po into letting us throw a party there every Sunday.
We charge no cover, make no money, and we have no promotional budget. Yet ever since we started, it seems like folks have been coming out of the woodwork for this sound--DJs and dancers alike. It's 80's funk really, and who doesn't like 80's funk? I dare you to not dance to the Gap Band or Cameo.
We try to go deeper than the known 80's funk acts but we certainly don't avoid 'em. You're just as likely to hear Slave or D Train as you are to hear Roundtrip or Wynd Chymes. We've been lucky to attract some of the best DJs in SF to play our night. A few of these dudes have told us they were nervous playing for us, which is an unbelievably huge compliment as we're just some record geeks in a basement and these dudes have rocked crowds of thousands. Having said that, this club is for the dancers, first and foremost. Even if it's the most obscure record, it's got to be funky. To us, be it an expensive record or dollar bin find, it ain't worth a damn if it doesn't make you dance!
How does one gain entry into the Magnificent 7 gang? Eh, they hired me after I cost them a gig. Not sure if that did the trick but that's how it went down. I don't recommend you do that as you will have 7 angry guys to answer to. It's easier to gain entry to a Mag 7 gig (usually $5) and more fun too!
Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Is my fly down?
Next time we can see you spin: This Saturday (April 18) @ Dalva - Good Friends & Evil Companions, free -10p.m. til 2 a.m. This Sunday (April 19) @ Sweater Funk in the basement of Li Po Lounge in Boogie Down China Town! We will have the blinding BEATELECTRIC boys coming through to fog up the basement with raw rare boogie! hosted by the Sweater Funk family. Free - 9 til 2.