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Direct Force is now on indefinite hold. Salaz didn't go with Amador, even though he was invited. Instead, he stayed behind and kept trying to lift up the Phoenix scene. His efforts have also borne fruit, in the form of a new, after-hours radio show (Fridays, 2 to 4, on 103.9 FM), and Salaz's own house club, Red Monkey, a periodic one-off in the bowels of the Riverbottom Lounge, an old dive bar in central Phoenix. "Basically, Red Monkey is the son of Chupa," says Salaz. "It's an extension of Chupa, with me at the controls instead of six people, or even Eddie."
Red Monkey's debut was last March. Salaz hosted the night once a week at first, but after a strong start, it started to lag, "so I started doing one-offs every four to six weeks, and the numbers have been nice." The last Red Monkey was September 13. It drew 400-plus. The vibe was tight, the mean age of the crowd was over 17, and the music was good, old-fashioned house. It was like a time machine to rave's age of innocence, before greedy promoters and bad drugs began to poison the well. The Monkey will rise again November 27 (Thanksgiving night). Amador is scheduled to appear as the special guest DJ, returning home to spend the holiday with his family and spin a 2x4 (two DJs, four turntables) set of house music with his old partner. Recently, Amador and Salaz gave separate Subterranea interviews that covered the past year, the history of their friendship and the future of Direct Force.
Subterranea: When and how did you and Eddie meet?
Pete Salaz: It was the spring of 1986. Eddie and I were both studying at ASU, and we were both in the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. One weekend there was a SHPE softball game, and Ed pulled up in this car that was bumping a hip-hop track, and we hit it off because we both loved hip-hop, and pretty soon we started telling everyone we were going to be DJs. And they were like, "Yeah, right," and as a joke, some of the other engineers started calling us Direct Force--I think it started with Applied Pressure, then became Direct Force. But as they were still laughing, we made up some business cards and just started doing it. We played lots of car shows, lots of backyard parties where you'd be up there spinning records, watching out for drive-bys . . . it was all the Latin hip-hop scene. But it got good fast. In 1989, we were co-champs at the Battle of the DJs at Pride Pavilion.
S: What caused the transition to house?
PS: Well, a few months after the Battle of the DJs, Eddie and I had a break in our friendship where we didn't speak to one another for like a year and a half, and during that time, I stayed with hip-hop, and Eddie went techno, and he teamed up with Blaz [Mario Gallegos, arguably the founder of the Valley's underground dance scene], who was doing the Green Room, Red Room, and Funktion parties. And one of the first things Eddie and I did once we were hanging out again is go to one of the Red Room parties. This was in like 1991, at the dawn of the underground scene here.
S: What did you think?
PS: Well, it was raw, uncensored. I liked it, even though I was shocked at some of the things going on there. Shocked in a good way.
S: Care to elaborate?
PS: Well, those early parties were really free-thinking. For example, the first Chupa was actually in 1992. It was a one-off Ed, Blaz and I threw, and it was in this warehouse across from Circles records. Anyway, right when the party was peaking, this orgy broke out on the dance floor. First this guy and girl started kissing, then their underwear was on the floor, and this other guy joined in, and a girl started spanking him, and pretty soon there were eight people in this thing, and they stayed there for three hours, right in the middle of the dance floor, with everybody watching and dancing. I was like, "Wow. So this is the underground."
S: You didn't jump in there?
PS: (laughs) No. I was on duty.
S: You sure that's not why they call you "Supermix Salaz"?
PS: No, no. My real name is Pete Castenada. I changed my name when I got a mix show at KRQ in Tucson [in 1994, before Chupa opened]. For some reason, the voice man for the station couldn't pronounce my last name, so I used my middle name, "Salaz." I took on the moniker "Supermix" because it was better than what the station wanted to name me, which was "Jam Hard Junior."
S: So what's up with the Elvis glasses? (Salaz sometimes wears gaudy, aging-Elvis-style sunglasses when he spins.)
PS: Oh, man, I'm a big Elvis freak. I've seen all his movies, I know all his songs, I've got all his records on vinyl. I love Elvis.
S: What about Eddie?
PS: I don't know. I don't think he likes Elvis as much as I do. See, Ed and I get along well, but we're different in many aspects. He's a Republican, I'm a Democrat. Ed is very religious, I'm not. I love all sports, Ed couldn't tell you what position O.J. played. Also, he's a better talker than I am. I'm not a good promoter. It's hard for me to walk up to someone and talk about myself or my event. And musically, I tend to spin a little faster, around 126-130 bpm, where Ed likes to stay between 120-124. Also, when it comes to house, Ed likes to go a lot deeper than I do. I like spinning stuff that's catchy, maybe it's got a little sample of a disco riff that hooks you in. Ed can get just God-awfully deep, down to just a full-on gospel singer and a hand-clap for a beat.