R.C. Lair: House Keeper

Before I moved to Phoenix, in 1994, I was strictly a house DJ. I was only into deep house in Montreal, and when I moved from Montreal to Calgary [in 1993], the kids all looked like the rave kids here--the baggy pants and the floppy hats--but they all liked house, so, no problem. I continued to accrue house records. Then, once I got here, I realized house-only wasn't going to cut it. I just wasn't going to get work. So I started buying any record I liked. Now I play jungle, hard trance, electro. My policy now is, if it sounds good, it is good--and even though, again, house is my first and foremost love--I try to be all over the place, because I can't decide who I like better--the gay, older, clubby house crowd, or the little lollipop-sucking, drug-infested ravers. I love them both equally. If they're dancing, it's good for me.

NT: What makes you a good DJ?
R.C.: Well, I'm not a strong DJ in the same sense as a DJ like Z-Trip. I don't get up there and scratch the shit out the turntable. But I can mix two records so you won't notice the move. In my opinion, though, picking out records is harder and more crucial than mixing them. Once I reinvented myself as a DJ, shopping got harder, because now I go through all the bins. Some days I buy some drum 'n' bass and an old house record. Some days it's trance. Some days it's all progressive house.

NT: What records do you avoid?
R.C.: Well, I try not to be too current for current's sake, because that shows. I can always tell when a DJ is playing records he just bought, because he doesn't know them well enough and, while they may all be brand new, they don't go together. I mean, you shouldn't go out and buy a set. At a Saturday-night rave, nobody wants to hear 18 records you picked out Friday afternoon. And some DJs here do that.

NT: Well, there's that credo among DJs that if you're not on the crest of the wave, you're sunk. They all want to be the first to drop that phat, new track.

R.C.: Yeah, and so do I. But at the same time, there's records in my crates that have been there for two years, and will be there two years from now, because they're great records. There's no reason for this terrible fear some DJs have of playing a track twice in the same month, as if it's this horrible problem if people recognize you for playing certain songs. It's this common overreaction in the rave scene to avoid anything associated with mainstream pop music, like repeat play of a song. And I don't agree with that. You just have to make sure it's a damn good song.

NT: This summer, you started playing the hell out of a track off the new Chemical Brothers album, "It Doesn't Matter" [also on Rumble Fish]. And I was surprised by that, because that was a major, Billboard Top 10 release. One night I heard that track in a bar on Mill Avenue, and the next night, you spun it at a rave.

R.C.: Well, a lot of people criticize the Chemical Brothers, but it seems like they're only getting criticized for being successful in the mainstream and hitting the charts. And that criticism is unfair, which is why I have no problem playing their music. I mean, the Chemical Brothers, two guys with samplers who create a full-on sonic assault. I'm sorry, but they're on it. Platinum records aside, you cannot deny these two guys have a gift for making in-your-face beats. They're one of the most copied breakbeat acts in the world now. They're so, so solid. And because they're solid, I'll play them, hype or not.

NT: What about Daft Punk?
R.C.: They put out the best album of the decade so far. I bought one copy to play and another I keep still in the plastic, and I never do that. What it comes down to is, I just don't believe in snobbery, like, "Oh, we're underground, we're rave, so anything that people outside our sanctum like, we shun." This is going to become more and more of an issue within the underground scene as this music gets more and more popular in the mainstream. But again, my belief is simple: If it's good, it's good, no matter how many people listen to it. The Chemical Brothers are one example of that. Daft Punk's another.

NT: What about Prodigy?
R.C.: Prodigy is horrible. Prodigy is the Spice Girls. They've got more image than talent, and a better marketing scheme than beats. And I'm speaking from an educated stance, because I've listened to their albums, old and new, and I saw them back in 1993 in Montreal. The music was coming out of the speakers, but all four of them were dancing, with that one guy just sort of going, "Yo, yo, yo." It was pitiful. And they're still pitiful. They just have better clothes.

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