Byron Fenix on Why Phoenix Isn't Ready for Real Jazz Music
Byron Fenix spins at Shochu House during Cosmic.
Byron Fenix is a bit different than your normal DJ or selector. First off, you normally won't find him performing at some glitzy club, as he generally prefers to spin at far funkier venues and events, such as The Lost Leaf, Djentrification's Civic Space Jam, or at his monthly gig Cosmic along with RMC and Joseph Mercardo at SoChu House in CenPho.
Plus, Fenix typically spins musical selection that offer more of a "soulful vibe," ranging from funk and jazz to disco and Afrobeat. You can hear the dude doing his thing every Saturday night during his weekly show "Soul Deluxe" via online station Radio Phoenix or later tonight when Cosmic holds its latest session. In the meantime, Fenix took time recently to share why he digs the genres that he does, as well as why he believes the Valley scene isn't ready for true jazz.
Name: Byron Oliver
AKA: Byron Fenix
Preferred Genres: I prefer jazz, funk, disco, Afrobeat, electronic, house...anything that has a soulful vibe.
Current Gigs: My monthly residency SoChu for Cosmic alongside RMC and Joseph Mercado. I also play monthly at Searsucker in Scottsdale. And there's Soul Deluxe, my weekly radio show that I host on Radio Phoenix every Saturday night from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Where else have you performed locally? Bar smith, The Q, FilmBar, Heard Museum, the Lost Leaf, First Friday on Roosevelt, Legend City, Cartel Coffee, Bikini Lounge, and the Civic Space Jam.
How did you get into the DJ game? My cousin got me started. He had two belt drive turntables and he only bought hip-hop at the time. I was really drawn to electronic music and wanted to follow that. He soon got better tables and gave me his old ones. Best. Gift. Ever. Then [I] started buying anything electronic I could find. DJing came later. [I] was asked to play house parties and started meeting other DJs and collaborating with them on different nights.
Why do you dig music with a soulful vibe? It's the feeling. Soulful music gets down deep in me. There are tracks like Marvin Gaye's "Distant Lover" that still give me chills. Everyone has there preference in music; mine is soul but from all genres.
What's your favorite track of the moment I'll quote High Fidelity's John Cusack: "In the club or at home?" Home is Rhye, "The Fall." Beautiful sound and the video is just as great. Big tune for my radio show. In the club Oliver $, "Doin' Ya Thang." Huge bass and they used a sample from my favorite artist Moodymann.
What's something about you that no one knows? If I told u then everyone would know. I do like my privacy.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? Nothing too crazy, thankfully, but recently [I] filled in for a friend and he forgot to mention it was a drag show. Couldn't make up their minds on what to play and basically called me out on the mic. They forgot I hold all the power of sound and I just shut off the mic as they yelled at me. They weren't too happy. I have love and respect for everyone 'till they treat me otherwise.
Technology is making it easier for anyone to be a DJ now. Is that a good or bad thing, in your opinion? Both. Turntables are expensive as well as records, if you're buying 12-inch singles. I do believe a DJ should know the basics though. I love my records so I always try to bring a crate with me to gigs cause you never know if the technology (computer) will crash. The good is for seasoned DJs it makes it easier to have all their music on a hard drive. We aren't getting any younger and those records are heavy.
How much work do you put into your mixes? The work really comes from finding good music after that its a matter of knowing your music. I don't plan what I'm gonna play, you read your audience and improvise from there.
Byron Fenix's record collection.
Do you crate dig? I wish I had skills like Djentrification and Smite -- those guys are real diggers -- but finding music can be just as gratify "diggin" on the web or reachinh out to producers for things that aren't pressed on vinyl. That's the best thing about technology
Where do you score music? Record stores -- Stinkweeds, Revolver, Tracks in Wax, and swap meets. Also blogs, trading with other DJ's, or going straight to the source. Telling an artist or producer that you have a radio show helps a lot. So I can get some really good exclusive tracks at times. i share everything I get on the show.
So what's the mood like at Cosmic? Pure vibe. RMC and Joseph are good at what they do, but I like to throw a wrench in there sometimes to really mix it up. I have a huge respect for both guys, Ruben has always been a brother to me, he's taught me a lot. Cosmic has all those genres but taps into the soulful side of them. We all love to play disco, house, R&B, and funk. We are a all a good fit.
Why do you think there are so few nights that have such a soulful vibe like yours does? Well there aren't too many that are very "soulful". The music has changed a lot. Much more of a digital sound. I'm really diggin disco which maintained that soulful vibe. My real passion is jazz but I'm not sure [the] Phoenix scene is ready for that yet.
How come? Jazz is an acquired taste, most people don't have any patience to hear a full track. That's what I love about Soul Deluxe I have total control. I can mix an Art Blakey or Sun Ra [song] into Moodymann or James Blake.
Byron Fenix is scheduled to perform at 10 p.m. during Comic on Friday, December 14, at SoChu House. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Phoenix, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.