Hey DJ! Friday Q&A: Tristes Tropiques

Categories: Q&A
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Here at SF Weekly, we place a high value on San Francisco's humble DJ tastemakers. But we also place high honors on music geeks whose sense of humor (and Jay McInerney appreciation) is as evident as their vinyl instinct. All this makes post-punk/disco/no wave/krautrock/etc/etc/etc DJ Tristes Tropiques a fun dude to do a Q&A with. His setlists are as inspired by filmmakers as they are by obscure bargain bin finds--and occasionally those affinities will collide, like when he spins stuff by Jim Jarmusch's old band (as if Jarmusch needed to be any cooler). For more on this Tristes turntable wizard, read below, before basking in his extensive collection this coming Tuesday night at Laszlo.  

Name: Tristes Tropiques

Club night(s):  Radio Rhythm (Disco, funk, and danceable stuff Jah Wobble would like); Dance to ZE Beat (Post punk, no wave, experimental); Barda Cosmica (electronic, krautrock, slow-downs).

Style(s) of music you spin: Songs with hand claps followed by two seconds of echo, conga drums, grunts, heavily-syncopated drumming, post-punk guitars and vocals, chanting, telephone rings, unexpected Jamaican or Europeans who start rapping, ironic self help advice, etc. Also songs from soundtracks like Revenge of the Nerds, Bright Lights, Big City & John Carpenter movies.

So what's your story, in 100 words or less?  My interest in records mostly began out of curiosity. Anytime I heard something catchy I would try to find out the source - e.g. the bassline from "Whoomp (There It Is)", which is actually from Italo disco legends Kano, or the Stone Roses' "Fools Gold" drum break, allegedly recreated in the studio to sound like the Bobby Byrd original. From there, I began to look for interesting elements of otherwise bland songs, such as the Glimmers' re-edit of Billy Idol's "Hot in the City (Exterminator Mix)" which chops out the fluff.

Name of a track you can't get out of your head:  Tom Browne's "Fungi Mama Bebopafunkadiscolypso", which I found in a box of records I bought in bulk. It just happens to randomly be on an Arista Christmas compilation but has nothing to do with Christmas. The song features chicken clucks, indigenous vocals, conga drums, and a fat funk bassline. The name says it all, really.

Musical mantra:
It's you. Make it habit. Make it happen. Only you.

It's you. Make it habit. Make it happen. Only you.

It's you. Make it habit. Make it happen. Only you.
-Will Powers

Favorite DJ experience: Cole Palme (of the legendary industrial/post punk group Factrix) asking if he could be paid in Absinthe before his Halloween "Dance to ZE Beat" DJ set.

Worst request: Rodney Dangerfield's disco-rap "Rappin' Rodney" (also the best request, but I rarely play the song).

Most treasured vinyl score: Lies to Live By, the LP by Jim Jarmusch's eerie post punk band from the early 1980s, The Del Byzanteens.

What other music-related projects are you currently working on?
More original productions, remixes, re-edits, re-organizations, slow-downs, re-arrangements, adjustments. Finding vocalists, hand clappers, and people who speak in tongues. Starting a Cosmic night (usually involves electronic, African recordings, & 45s played at 33).
What elements would your fantasy club night entail? A combination of the clubs in the movies Slamdance, Howard the Duck, Downtown 81, The Squeeze & Scarface: lasers, Greek columns, smoke, dinosaurs made from TVs, Plexiglas, mirrors, and Michael Keaton.

Question we didn't ask you but you often ask yourself: Would hip -hop ever have emerged if the words "ladies," "80s" and "Mercedes" didn't rhyme?

Next time we can see you spin: Special guest appearances at: "Audio Seduction" at Laszlo on Tuesday, April 7th and "Disco Doggies Happy Hour" at Triple Crown on Wednesday, April 15th, as well as at Dance to ZE Beat's 1-year anniversary DJ party on May 14th at the Knockout with Ken Man from Liquid Idiot/Fist of Facts; Pam from Sugar and Gold; and Rob from Bronze.

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