I first heard of DJ Apt One from the amazing and ever replete music blog Dollar Bin Jams. As it’s name suggests, you can find rips of all kinds of obscure vinyl here, plus a deluge of funk and soul edits from DJ Apt One, Shawn Ryan and the other DBJ contributors.
Mr. One likes to keep many irons in the fire; touring, making edits, contributing guest articles and now authoring a foodie blog for Vice Magazine keeps his hands from being too idle. He was kind enough to take some time out of his very busy scheduled to answer a few questions for Bottom Forty.
Pavone: Could you tell us about Dollar Bin Jams and how you became involved with it?
DJ Apt One: DBJ started in 2007, when classic vinyl blogs were very much the rage. It was really an outgrowth of a very healthy digging community in Philly – spearheaded by Shawn Ryan. A couple of friends telling the world about their weird records. Somehow we have managed to outlast most of the blogs from that era, largely through persistence. I spent a year curating a series of weekly edits on the blog, but since then, I haven’t posted nearly enough. Shawn is very good about staying on top of things.
It seems like every DJ I know is also a foodie. Can you explain your personal connection between food and music?
Most DJs start out, or stay on the “working” DJ tip – you do weeklies, private events. You play lounges – you make ends meet. In that setting, you are part of the “back of the house” in the service industry – the food and drink industry. So you learn to see the food game from the inside. If you tour or you host touring DJs at your local night, you go and get good pre-gig meals at local flagship restaurants.
I am really into home cooking. I do music for a living, and my wife works nine to five, so I do all the cooking. There are many similarities between cooking and DJing – you have put yourself in other peoples’ shoes to figure out what pleases them. You have to imagine the elements that you will need to combine into a great set or recipe.
I obviously have a lot to say on this topic. That’s why I write a column called “Cooking With The DJ” for Thump, which is Vice magazine’s dance music blog, in which I talk to DJs about home cooking and we make recipes together. It’s fun.
Moombahton – what is it and is it still relevant?
Moombahton started in 2010 as a hybrid of house music and reggaeton. Now it is more of a polyglot dance music style. It encompasses anything in the 100-115 BPM range and has a semblance of the “dembow” style reggaeton beat or other classic Caribbean or Tropical drum patterns.
I’m not exactly sure how relevant it is right now because I think that it was kind of absorbed into a really fast moving landscape of “EDM” culture (whatever that is) and now it’s sort of a part of the broader picture. However, the artists known for that style are increasingly relevant.
I’m kind of out of that game – I made a bunch of well-received tunes in the early going that were really just slow afro-latin house records. I played a show in 2011 with Dillon Francis and Cap’n Harry, later known as Baauer, and I saw that the genre was moving away from me, stylistically – to a less funky direction. So I just kind of went my own way.
Philadelphia still seems to be a hot bed of great funk and soul music. Are there any other cities of note that are still pioneering this sound?
Well there is always New Orleans. The internet has made place a little less important. The Do Over dudes in LA are funky. Kon and Amy Douglass and the Whiskey Barons in Boston are funky. Captain Planet and Cosmo Baker in NYC are funky. Nicos Gun from Philly is funky. Case Bloom in Nashville is funky. FSQ and GKoop and J Boogie in the Bay are funky. It’s a state of mind.
Any reason why you’ve never played in the Pacific Northwest before?
I have no good reason. I had some dates set up once a few years ago and things fell through. I’ve played pretty much everywhere else in the US but never up here. Needless to say, I’m excited.
How did the DJ name Apt One come about?
My old graf letters from the 1990s. It’s a reasonably clever play on words as well.
What are you most looking forward to this year?
A lot. I have a new alter-ego called Michael The Lion. I have a lot of music under that pseudonym to release – most of my best stuff from the last few years. Stuff that I have been sitting on – starting with a remix of Robert Lux and Todd Edwards that I am putting out on my label, Young Robots, on April first. I’m also going back to Europe this summer, which is always a blast.
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DJ Apt One (aka Fich, or Michael Fichman to Uncle Sam) will be making his first Northwest appearance Friday, April 4th for JACK at Seattle Eagle, with support from yours truly. He’ll then head down to San Francisco to play the West Coast’s biggest disco party Go BANG! with Emily Coalson, Steve Fabus and Sergio Fedasz.