Thanks to its close proximity to Arizona State University's main campus, wild times are often afoot on Mill Avenue. And most nights, you can find Damion Hernandez helping stoke things up at some of the rowdier bars along the Downtown Tempe thoroughfare.
The 33-year-old, known to the scene as DJ Hazardous, drops high-energy and electro-heavy mixes during thrice-weekly sessions at such joints as Fat Tuesdays and C.A.S.A., typically with many members of the 40-person Party Time Crew that helps promote and support his events. And while Hernandez has appeared in recent years at Scottsdale joints like The Mint and Wild Knight (where he's opened for such names as Lucky Date and Spryte) loves Old Town's posh nightlife establishment, he's got a major yen for Tempe and its resident revelers.
It might be due to the fact that he's gigging frequently in the city's bar or has headlined at a couple of the raucous after-parties that have followed the equally raucous annual ASU Undie Run, but Hernandez is firmly of the belief that Tempe can go just as hard as the cats up in The 'Dale.
He explained his reasoning behind this opinion during a recent chat with Up on the Sun, which also included him discussing the time he partied so hard that wound up with an entire rainbow of color coming from his mouth, much like the cartoon unicorn adorning PTC's logo. If you're not disgusted after finishing the preceding paragraph, read on for more.
Name: Damion Hernandez
AKA: DJ Hazardous
Preferred genres: I am an open format kinda of DJ. I like to roll with the times.
How did you get into the DJ game? It all started back in '96 when my Uncle Mike, that recently passed, dropped a crate of '80s breaks and freestyle vinyl on me. He told me, "Here, do something with this." After that I bought my first pair of turntables, which were crappy belt drive decks. I would just lock myself in my room for hours and just practice.
Friends and family would tell me that I sucked and that just pushed me harder to get that much better. I never stopped then and I don't plan on stopping anytime soon. I now own about 75 crates of records and still collecting.
What sets you apart from other rank and file DJs in Metro Phoenix? I talk to people and interact with my fans. I don't just go up there and play music, I try to get my crowd involved.
What the biggest moment of your career thus far? Spinning at Axis-Radius the first time and finally being recognized. I gained so many gigs after I did Axis. I had the dance floor packed from start to finish of my set.
What bygone club do you miss the most? Axis-Radius by far. I miss it already.
What's your favorite track of the moment? "White Satin" by Moody Blues, the Zeds Dead Remix. I love closing my night with that track.
How much work do you put into a particular mix for a given night? Every night is different and I always try to adapt with the crowd. I am consistently in the studio making remixes, mashups and edits for the next week. I try not to do the same set or same mix that I did last week. And that's a challenge.
What's the explanation behind your DJ name? In high school I use to always wear the color orange and my friends would always call me the "hazardous guy." And besides, I'm a little crazy or hazardous, so to speak. My girl says that I am aggressive with my music and the way I play out.
So the music you spin is, um...hazardous? Yes. It's me. I like to tell a hazardous story with my mix. I like to take my crowd on a journey. I'm very aggressive and passionate in my music and [the] mixes I put out.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? Probably has to be the time I watched a girl get touched [down there] while I was spinning [the] main stage at an event. I was like, "Wow! I've seen it all."
By a dude or another girl? It was a female. It looked like they were on ecstasy.
Where did it happen? Last year's Undie Run
Other than getting to see all the, ahem, touching going on, what's it like DJing for a screaming crowd of ASU kids in their skivvies at the Undie Run after-party? It was the greatest feeling in the world spinning for 9,000 kids. Just knowing they were in the undies made it that much better. But having a crowd so in tune with you makes it that much more amazing, undies or not.
Do you wear undies yourself? No. Endless Entertainment wouldn't let me perform in my Underoos.
What would you have worn if you could've? My Superman Underoos, duh. With a Endless Entertainment Cape.
Which scene is wilder: Mill Avenue or Old Town Scottsdale? Mill Avenue by far. It's ASU College party town, but Scottsdale has the nicer clubs.
Why else do you think Mill is wilder? I feel like the people on Mill have no boundaries and are there to party.That's just my opinion, but I love both either way. I have great times in Scottsdale and in Mill.
What's with the Party Time Crew logo? Doncha think it's a little much? We had a friend that called us a fucked up box of crayons because each member is different. I think it fits us. We like to party. At least once a month, one of us throws up or blacks out.
Have you ever partied so hard that you've puked a rainbow? Yes. As gross as that sounds . . . Yes.
Kinda puts a whole new spin on the old Starburst marketing slogan. What's something that no one else knows about you? Not everyone knows that I am a family man. I have 3-year-old son and I spend all of my off time with him. And not everyone knows that I throw up rainbows.
Well, until now. What are your feelings about ASU losing its crown as one of the nation's top party schools? Pretty sad! Maybe the next couple years could change [that]. I know that the annual ASU Undie Run will certainly help with that. Maybe PTC can put together an event that could put ASU back on the list. [They] certainly gets down during the Undie Run, that's for sure.
Your mixes are especially heavy on the electro and club bangers. What is it about those genres that makes people want to party? Or does the alcohol help too? The energy, the sound, the feeling...and yes, alcohol does help. But it's about time EDM is finally in the forefront.
Is there just something inherent to electro that makes you want to rage? And do you program your mixes with that goal in mind? All genres of EDM make me want to RAGE and I just want the crowd to feel that too. I never program my mixes, I feed off the crowds energy and requests. I do take requests.
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And get girls to fondle other girls. No, I want people to dance, not fondle each other. I just want people to have a good time.