The recent 10th anniversary party for The Blunt Club saw plenty of old favorites making a return to the long-running hip-hop night. That includes former host Emerg McVay (who's been busy shooting music videos these days) and onetime resident John Hyder.
While the 30something hip-hop selecta left both the Blunt and Arizona behind in 2007 and moved to L.A. he has more than a few memories of his time working the local club circuit alongside the likes of Z-Trip (natch) since way back in the early 1990s. Basically, Hyder's DJ days stretch back so far, you could easily say he's from the school that burned down before they built the old school.
We spoke with Hyder in honor of his return to Phoenix, albeit just for the Blunt Club festivities, for this week's edition of DJ Dossier.
Name: John Hyder
AKA: Mr. Hyder
Preferred genres: I play what I like to call "soul music." Just anything that has a soulful vibe I'm down to spin. It could be hip-hop, funk, soul, Afrobeat, reggae, Latin, house music, or like electronic stuff.
How did you get started in the DJ game? I actually started when I was 10 years old, just because I was into breakdancing kinda in the early '80s. Went to my first middle school dance around then and saw the DJs doing their thing and figured I wanted to get into it. So I bought records, got a couple turntables, my uncle helped me put it together, and I started doing every gig I could - from the youth center to high school dances and birthday parties. Took a break after high school and was in the Air Force.
When did you break into the Valley scene? When I came to Phoenix in 1991, I linked up with Z-Trip, Phunk Junkeez, and those cats. Then I started doing gigs at Zazoo in Scottsdale, became the record buyer at Circles, and then played everywhere like the Brickhouse and Electric Ballroom, all the hip-hop shows there. I stuck around until 2007 for like 15-16 years.
So you were a big part of the old school hip-hop/DJ scene? Oh yeah, big time. There was like Z-Trip, there was me, there was Roach Clip...people like that. Robby Rob was around back in those days, he was like my partner growing up in southern Arizona. Element's was around for quite awhile. I remember when Fashen wanted to learn how to DJ and he'd come to my house and I'd show him things. My boys had a group called Color Blind out of Phoenix that was produced by Kirk Reznik of the Phunk Junkees. I remember Know Question [featuring Pokafase] and a lot of those cats in the mid '90s.
How did you get involved with The Blunt Club? In 2002, that's when me and [Adam] Dumper were hanging out a punk rock night on Thursdays at Donnie Brasco's because there wasn't much to do. And then we got a call from [former Priceless Inn owner] Keith Nichols at his new bar. So we went in and helped [changing] the place from a country bar, taking down beer lights, and putting up artwork. And then The Blunt Club was born soon after.
Craziest shit you witnessed at a gig? When DJ Vadim was in town for The Blunt Club, we were hanging out after in the parking lot of Hollywood Alley. There's people all over and a scuffle breaks out. In the middle of all that, some guy jumps in somebody else's car, slams it into reverse, whips around the parking lot, and drives through the building of the strip mall. He pulls out with people hanging off the car, fishtails towards the crowd right in front of the bar, everybody scatters, and this dude bails out in the car. It was kinda wild.
Favorite Valley venues from back in the day? Oh man, its hard to remember. I played Jetz and Stixx for a little bit with Zach, at the Old Brickhouse, the Roxy in Phoenix. There also used to be an old space over in Scottsdale called Higher Ground where there was a drum 'n' bass night. Then there was this really cracking spot in Hayden Square [Gibson's] that had two stories.
Are you getting some big-time gigs in L.A.? Right now I'm a resident for Detroit Bar out of Costa Mesa. I do all their hip-hop events there. I've playing with Cappadonna coming up. I've done KRS-One, Dead Prez, Raekwon, Curren$y, and a bunch of shows over there. And then I play four or five clubs out here in Orange County occasionally. Just last week I did Rob Dyrdek IVI Sunglasses release party in the Hollywood Hills, which was pretty cool.
Favorite tracks of the moment? "Fall in Love" by Erykah Bade, "Evil Love" by Black Spade, and "I'm Going With You" by Om'mas Keith.
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What artists have been working their way into your sets? I've been a big fan of future funk lately. I also love any J-electronica right now.
Do you use other cats remixes or make your own? I don't do mashups or anything like that. I do original tracks from original artists.
How do you craft an effective set? I never plan out anything in advance. I just kinda go, take an idea to start, and just go with the crowd. A good set has a fluid vibe to it. Hook the people before you lose them. Build them up and then maybe break it back down, from a reggae beat to a house music vibe.