DJ ill-legal? Talks Dubstep, Subversion, Rusko, Lazer Sword, Hyphy, Hovatron, and More
Name: Blake Ludera
AKA: DJ ill-legal?
Genres spun: Glitch, dubstep, breakbeats, and hip-hop mostly. I also like to scratch and get into some turntablism stuff, and on rare occassion I'll play house music or drum 'n' bass. I'm really all over the place when it comes to different genres.
Current gigs: My current residency is up at Subversion at Disco on Thursday nights, but I also play a lot of one-off bookings (parties, raves) on the weekends as well as some more "corporate" gigs here and there if the money is right.
How did you get started as a DJ? I grew up in the Chicago area during a pretty exciting period for house music and EDM in general. Then I started going to underage clubs, and found myself really intrigued by what the DJ was doing. When I got a little older, I eventually sold my electric guitar, began collecting vinyl, and saved up to buy my first pair of Technics. From there, just countless hours spent locked in my room, blasting music, and teaching myself until I eventually determined that I was ready to start playing out.
Explanation behind your nickname: I came up with it around the time that there was a lot of controversy surrounding raves and electronic music, with countless parties getting shut down. It was initially part of a concept, not unlike the whole "skateboarding is not a crime" thing, I had developed a logo with a DJ and underneath it said "illegal?," kind of questioning the mentality of why people would go so far to persecute music and those that were trying to share it.
So what's the most illegal thing you've ever done? I'm gonna have to pull a Dave Chapelle and plead the fifth. I will admit that I totally disregarded the warning and cut the tags off my mattress.
How ill do you get during your sets? I'm not the most animated guy up on stage as I'm usually really focused on perfecting the mix, I usually like to let the music do most of the talking. My thing is that I really go out of my way to play tracks that people haven't heard yet, because as a fan that was always my favorite part about going to shows [and] being exposed to new tracks.
What's something about you that might surprise others? I was born in the Netherlands, and spent a few years growing up in Hawaii when I was young.
What's your professional mantra? It's better to take a risk and drop a new track then to go with the "sure-shot" and drop something that's played out.
What do you dig about the genres you spin? I like the fact that with glitch and dubstep, they're both relatively young genres. In just the past couple of years I've watched them grown and develop and I like the progression that they're taking. Plus I'm a sucker for a broken beat, I've always loved drums and I think the genres I play cater to that more than the 4/4 stuff.
Does all the glitchy and bass-heavy music ever screw with your hearing? Knowing how important my ears are to me in what I do, I do my best to avoid prolonged exposure to the big soundsystems, I always make sure to take "ear breaks" or position myself in such a way that it won't be as harmful.
Best experience as a DJ? Any time I get to open for a headlining artist is a great experience, but if I had to pick just one I'd say opening up for Lazer Sword this past September for UK Thursdays. I've been following those guys for years, and having the opportunity to not only bring them out to AZ, but also warm up the crowd for them, that was pretty phenomenal.
And the worst? Probably when I opened for Craze at Myst. We had some technical difficulties with a mixer that I was unfamiliar with, I got started late, then after about 15 minutes I was told I needed to play house music, which didn't mesh with what I had prepared whatsoever. That was a rough night to say the least, although I was grateful for the opportunity since Craze is definitely one of my all-time faves.
What are some of the clubs you've performed at over the years? I've played at The Loft (now Whip Lounge), Bash on Ash (now an office building), Chez Monieux (closed), Sugar Daddy's in Scottsdale (I believe that's closed as well), Trax (now the Sail Inn), Homme Lounge, Myst, Cherry Lounge, Bar Smith, and Disco.
Which bygone club do you miss the most? I really liked the Bash on Ash. I think they actually called it "Club Bash" when we held our weekly there, but they had the coolest setup there, and I've got loads of crazy memories from that place.
Preferred poison while DJing? Red Bull and Bacardi O, Malibu and Coke, or MVP's.
Craziest shit you've seen at a gig? During our Blog Bassdown at Subversion a few weeks back, we had a circle of kids on the dance floor that did the whole Jersey Shore "beat up the beat" thing. I got it on video, it's up on YouTube and I have to say, that was a pretty epic moment.
Worst request you've ever gotten? I have a friend who teaches at a junior high school, and as a favor I agreed to play their winter formal. I must have had at least ten requests from these 9 to 12 year old kids to play YG's "Toot it and Boot It," which I didn't have and probably wouldn't have been considered appropriate by the chaperones.
What sites to do use for music? I spend a good deal of time on web forums (glitchhopforum.com, dubstepforum.com) and Soundcloud, I think they're great for helping newer artists get some exposure. I also find myself keeping up with blogs (The Dubstep Blog, Dubslut, etc.) now more than ever before. There's a few other sites I check regularly, but I've gotta keep a few tricks up my sleeve.
Which underground artists have you been pimping lately in your sets lately? There's a cat who goes by Minnesota that has been dropping some amazing tracks lately, I'm also a big fan of Yoseph (I've used his tracks in my two most recent mixes), I'm always on the lookout for new stuff by Lazer Sword, Hovatron, Boreta, Akira Kiteshi, and Lorn.
What else have you been listening to lately? Outside of the EDM genres, I've been feeling a lot of Bay Area hyphy (E-40, Too $hort, Mistah Fab) and jerk music (New Boyz, Wes Nyle).
Best concert you've been to in the last year: EDM-wise, it was Rusko at UK Thursdays. Non-EDM would have to be the Deftones down in Tucson.
Do you shop locally for music? I used to work up at Southwest Soundworks and then Swell Records, so at the time I did the majority of my shopping locally. After they closed their doors, I reverted to doing most of my shopping online. I certainly miss the days when I could walk into a store and leave with a healthy stack of vinyl.
Last album purchased: I got the Lazer Sword "Shot in the Night" 45 as a gift from my good friend J.Paul of HavocNdeeD recently.
Last song downloaded: "Reputation" by Hieroglyphics
Track that's been stuck in your head lately: Inner Party System's "American Trash" (Starky Remix). The synth in that track gets me every time.
Where can you be found when not DJing? Out fliering for upcoming Subversion shows, at home working hard in the studio, or spending time with my girlfriend and our puppy.
Upcoming gigs you'd like to plug? We've got 12th Planet coming to Subversion on February 24th, I'll be playing at The Grind at Chasers in late March, and I've got some things in the works for Colorado and Michigan, but the dates haven't been finalized yet.
Any side projects in the works? I've been putting in some time focused on production, and I hope to have a few releases coming out with 119 Sound and Theoretic Records later this year.
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.