Fact 135 on Watching DJ Swamp Light Himself Aflame While Smashing Records
DJ Fact 135 with his vinyl haul, which may or may not include Puff the Magic Dragon.
David Dimmick isn't much of a braggart -- at least as far as we can tell -- but he's got every effin' right to be. Since becoming a DJ in 1996, the dude's C.V. includes sharing stages with some pretty stellar icons from hip-hop history, like the Wu-Tang Clan, Pharohe Monarche, A Tribe Called Quest, and Common.
This NYC native, who performs as Fact 135, has seen and done some memorable shit during his 17 years as a selector, ranging from judging and performing at various DMC battles to watching the renowned DJ Swamp light himself on fire during a Valley gig some years ago. Dimmick, 37, shared many a memorable story during our recent interview for this week's edition of DJ Dossier.
Name: David Dimmick
AKA: DJ Fact 135
Preferred genres: Hip-hop, trap, dubstep, and glitch-hop, but I will play anything. I just love music.
Current gigs: LayLow on Wednesdays at Bar Smith and monthly at The Blunt Club at Yucca Tap Room in Tempe. Also at Coolin' Out shows, during guest spots at several venues around town, and on The Beat 101.1 FM's Rhyme & Reason at 2 a.m. on Saturday nights/Sunday mornings.
How did you get into the DJ game? When I moved out here from New York in '96, I missed the hip-hop I grew up listening to. I had always been a musician, so I decided to get some turntables. I immediately fell in love with it.
What sort of jams? Everything . . . my father was a huge Beatles and ELO fan, my sisters were all about the '80s music, and of course I was around a lot of hip-hop, funk, and breaks, being in New York. So my musical taste was all over the place. Then, about 12, I got a guitar and that opened my eyes to other instruments and styles of music. To this day, I will still listen to just about anything. My roots, though, are classic rock and blues.
What was it like living in a hip-hop hub like NYC? Growing up in New York was great. So much culture to soak up. I found myself in trouble a lot -- graffiti, fighting, skateboarding, and all the other usual hoodlum bullshit. But it toughened me up and opened my eyes to life at an extremely early age. I feel blessed that I grew up there.
Why did you take a break from the DJ biz from 2007 to 2010? I walked away toward the end of a failing marriage, and to be honest, I have no idea why. As soon as I got divorced, it was all I knew, so I naturally went right back to it.
What's story behind your DJ name: It was my nickname in New York when I was a kid, 'cause I was so straightforward and blunt. Then I began writing "Fact" as my graf tag when I was doing throwies and burners in the city. The 135 was Seaford-Oyster Bay Parkway in New York. We ran the entire highway, bridges, and trestles. So when I began to DJ, I added the 135 to differentiate myself from anyone else that may come along trying to use the same name.
Where else have you performed? God, there's been so many. Just about every venue in town: Axis, Myst, Sanctuary, Celebrity, America West Arena, Pussycat Lounge, Freedom, Electric Ballroom, et cetera. All around NYC and upstate New York, Atlanta, Miami, Orlando, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Sand Diego.
What's your dream gig? DJing a Native Tongues reunion show in NYC.
What's the bygone place do you miss the most? I really liked Nita's Hideaway, but the old Arizona Roadhouse was the absolute best. Myself and Megadef used to do the one-two punch there with Drunken Immortals. So much fun there. Oh, and the Old Style Rock Shop. We used to set up there all the time. Loved that spot.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? Prolly [DJ] Swamp setting himself, his records, and Pickster's new mixer on fire about 10 years ago. Pickster almost had a heart attack, and Swamp had some serious burns. But he kept doing his routine. I believe it was at the old Nita's Hideaway.
I also saw an unnamed DJ throw up on himself and the decks while on stage in front of a few thousand people. That shit was funny as hell. He proceeded to fall over. The record never skipped. That's about all I can think of without incriminating myself or others.
What's your mantra when it comes to DJing? I guess it would be something along the lines of pay attention to the crowd, but never play what you aren't feeling. No matter how dope you are, if you don't connect with what you're playing you won't be at your best.
How would you describe your style? Clean and educated. That's how Roli Rho just described me. I'm old school, but I know my way around all the new school stuff. I still love playing vinyl, rocking doubles, juggling. But I also appreciate all the new technologies available to us now and have completely embraced it. I'm also quick on my feet.
What's one thing that no one knows about you? The first record I ever bought was Puff the Magic Dragon. I was five years old and played it every night on my Fisher Price turntable, to the point that my teenage neighbor complained to my parents about having to listen to it every night for weeks on end.
Got vinyl? DJ Fact 135 certainly does.
How many records are in your vinyl collection? Lots and lots. I have just over 100 crates altogether. Most of 'em have doubles too. All hip-hop, dancehall, funk, and breaks. I love having them, but damn, I sure hate moving.
If your house were to, heaven forbid, catch on fire, what five records would you save? My sealed original Hendrix Nine to the Universe, my sealed original Pete Rock and CL Smooth They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.), and any of my white label records from New York. Can't find those anywhere!
What's your biggest vinyl score? It was [during] my trip to New York the fall of 2000. Spent a week digging through every record store in the five boroughs and Long Island. I spent over five grand and came home with about 15 crates of very rare, hard-to-find classic hip-hop. It cost me almost a thousand dollars to put that line on the plane with me. Best money I ever spent.
Is turntablism a lost art? No. It's just taken a bit of a backseat to the new technologies. I still know so many people that scratch, juggle, and use the turntable as an instrument. It's still alive and well, just hidden behind all of the mainstream club-style music. Turntablism will always be a part of hip-hop culture--in my opinion, anyways. Especially with places like Cyphers and Scratch Academy teaching and promoting the turntable as an instrument.
Do you think all DJs should learn it? No. I think DJs should stick with what they like to do. You don't need to scratch and juggle to rock a party. I do, however, feel they should be educated about it, so they can understand and have respect for it.
What do you dig about hip-hop? I love the culture, the music, the vibe, everything about it. It reminds me of who I am and where I'm from. It pushes me to be creative and allows me to learn, share, teach, and grow as a person and a DJ/musician. It is who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. It's my way of life.
What's your favorite track of the moment? Right now it's a toss-up between Bro Safari featuring DJ Craze, "Spooked (Trap)," and The Pharcyde, "Runnin (Philippians Remix)."
Compare the old school Phoenix DJ scene to today. It seems to be more money-driven these days, which is understandable considering we're all older and need to eat. But it definitely lacks the culture/community feel it used to have. Back in the day we all just loved playing, getting out, and chillin. We all stuck together and supported each other a lot more than we do now.
Those of us that are from those days still stick together, which is why I love Blunt Club so much. It's the only place that really still carries that same vibe. All the OG heads still stick together. But now, times have changed: new faces, new venues, so many more DJs, everyone after the same money. It's just different. I still love it, though, and we all try to look out, educate, progress as a community, but it's just tougher to do with so many more DJs and all the new technologies and the club scene. As time progresses it seems it's more about the individual and not so much the collective, if that makes sense.
Any old school memories you'd like to share? The first time I brought out Roli Rho in 1999 to the Green Room in Tempe for the "Sweat The Technics" show I threw. It was a head-to-head battle between Megadef and Tricky T. Craze and Infamous from the Allies were in town for a show the next day--we had no idea they were in town already--and right when the battle was about to start they walked in and Roli introduced them as special guest judges.
I'll never forget the look on young Mega's face as he looked up seconds before he was supposed to battle and realized that not only was Roli watching, but Craze and infamous, too. Priceless. Best night ever. The show was awesome. Megadef and Tricky T killed it.
What's been your best experience as a DJ? DJing the Spitkicker Tour at Celebrity Theatre in 2000. Megadef and I had our own dressing room and shared the stage with some of our favorite artists of all time: Pharoahe Monch, Talib Kweli, Biz Markie, Common, De La Soul, et cetera.
Mega and I stole the drink cart from Common's dressing room, and the food from Biz Markie's room. DJ Maseo and Common were trying to convince us to go to New Mexico with 'em for the next show.
Good thing we didn't: The tour bus broke down before they got out of Arizona. It was the best night ever. We got to hang out and perform with some of some of the our all-time favorite MCs till 6 a.m., and then I headed right to the airport for a week's vacay in Cancun. Classic.
Any advice for newbie DJs? Practice, practice, practice, and more practice. Also, keep an open mind and don't hold yourself back from trying something new, because you never know what you might stumble upon and teach yourself.
DJ Fact 135 is scheduled to perfom at Roxy Lounge in Scottsdale on Monday, May 13; at Yucca Tap Room on Tuesday, May 14; and at Bar Smith every Wednesday during LayLow.
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