Rebel Disco's Edward Navarro on How Phoenix's DJ Scene Can Be Territorial
Edward Navarro of Rebel Disco
There are many perks to being a member of Rebel Disco. As we've previously reported, the half-dozen or so participants in the local DJ crew regularly engage in group hugs and may have "seen each other's penises." And according to the ensemble's Edward Navarro, who Up on the Sun recently interviewed, it also has a killer 401(k) plan.
All snarkiness aside, membership in Rebel Disco does have a few bona fide benefits. On of which is getting to spin swank tunes for a typically packed house (and usually with a marquee-level guest DJ) on the rooftop of Bar Smith every Wednesday night. On Wednesday, April 3, they host Tensnake.
Navarro is definitely looking forward to the night and plans on augmenting the experience with tracks from his enormous music collection that Rebel Disco czar Jake Goldsmith says is filled with "old school electro, boogie, and rare disco gems."
"Edward was raised on some amazing music, and his record collection reflects that," Goldsmith says. And so do his sets and mixes, which the DJ told us about for this week's DJ Dossier, as well as how he came about accumulating his enviable cache and how "sometimes territorial" competition in the local nightlife scene makes for better performances.
Name: Edward Navarro
Preferred genres: Disco, house, electro
Current gigs: I am a resident at Push Push every Wednesday on the rooftop of Bar Smith.
Where else have you performed? SideBar, Crescent Ballroom, Lost Leaf, Bikini Lounge, SoChu House, Brick Urban Kitchen, my bedroom.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? A man dancing with an orb -- or possibly making love to it. Couldn't really tell.
What's your biggest claim to fame? Opening up for Bicep was a real honor and the biggest thing I've done yet. However, I'm most proud of the closing moment of my Resident Love set. Those who were there know why.
How did you get involved with Rebel Disco? I pay a monthly due to be a member [laughs]. No, Jake asked me if I wanted to DJ at the Nacho Lovers party at Brick Urban Kitchen. I couldn't commit to that, but shortly after, he asked me if I'd like to be involved with future projects of Rebel Disco.
Are there any perks to being a member of Rebel Disco? Aside from the well-structured 401(k) plan, I'd probably say all the drinks that dudes now want to buy me.
What's your role? DJ, promoter, partner, talent recruiter, host, therapist, father figure -- let's just say there's lots of work to be done.
How were the Psychemagick and Bicep gigs at Rebel Disco? Two very incredible yet very unique shows. Both made their Phoenix debut and it was a pleasure to host them.
Tensnake is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, April 3, at Bar Smith.
Why did you decide to bring in Tensnake? He's never been to Phoenix and if you've been to a pool [or] daytime party in the past few years, you probably heard "Coma Cat." This is huge not just for Push Push, but for Phoenix because a show like this is foundational to the development of a stronger presence in the dance music scene other big cities have. He's also our first artist not doing a DJ set but instead performing live.
Is he a kindred soul since he's a lot of the same genres as y'all? We admire his work and it's exactly the kind of sound Rebel Disco wants to bring to Phoenix. Seeing him will be fantastic, but having the opportunity to bring him will be a memorable experience for us.
How do y'all choose the guests at Rebel Disco? We draw names from a hat. No, we curate our sound and our night in general, so everything must fit the vibe and platform of the night.
Who's on your dream list as guests? KiNK, Erol Alkan, Citizen, Waze & Odyssey, Eric Duncan, DJ Harvey -- we dream big!
What are the benefits of a playing on a rooftop? I like playing in all spaces because they have their own benefits. As for a rooftop, you can create a different experience than being in a club. Also, you don't have to worry about people stepping outside to smoke.
Are Wednesdays the ideal nights for partying? Wednesdays allow us to draw in people who absolutely want to be there for the music and the experience because they trust what we're doing.
Push Push replaced The Scenario at Bar Smith. Is the nature of the DJ scene to constantly reboot itself with new nights? Actually, we sorta just swapped floors and changed the name, as Jake and Aaron were part of Scenario in the main room once before. We are really happy about the change and are excited to be on the roof every Wednesday.
How long do you think Rebel Disco will last? Did someone say it wouldn't? No, really, did they?
You produced the first Rebel Disco podcast. How much work did you put into it? Enough to prep, but that's the second take, the first didn't have the Daniel Avery remix. When I found out we were bringing him to Push Push, I wanted to squeeze a track in because that was my main objective: to fit in a track by all upcoming special guests. Also, I wanted to end on our namesake "In the Bush" by Musique because that's where we got the name for Push Push.
How do you go about crafting your mixes? By locking myself in the studio. Oh, and coffee helps. Shout-out to Jobot.
Do you add an individual flourish to your mixes? I play mostly vinyl and draw from a library that ranges over 30 years of dance music. I might play a disco 12-inch you never heard and will never hear again, or I might play a forthcoming promo and everything else in between.
In your opinion, how do you craft an effective set? As for Push Push, if I'm playing an early spot, I typically shoot from the hip. If I'm opening for a headliner or playing peak time then I familiarize myself with tracks I plan to bring that night. If I'm playing as a guest elsewhere, then I research the venue, audience, etc. In any case, it's important to always leave room to change things up if need be.
Do you have a mantra or philosophy when it comes to DJing? Regardless of style and genre, know your history.
What's the best thing about being a DJ? Looking out to a crowded dance floor. It's truly a rewarding experience.
And the worst? Looking out to that once-crowded dance floor you just now cleared. Happens to everyone. That, and getting asked to DJ a wedding.
What's the biggest problem with the local DJ scene, in your opinion? Due to the lack of venues, competition is sometimes territorial. I'd like to see more friendly competition because it strives you to be better which will in turn grow the scene. Rebel Disco is a collective of DJs working toward the same goal as opposed to individuals competing to achieve something first.
What genres are overrated or tired right now? I think all genres will still maintain a following, but I've noticed the younger generation, most likely first exposed to EDM, have now been interested in discovering the classic sounds of dance music. They stand the test of time.
Is disco underappreciated? No, because people seem to be open to it whenever it's played. It moves the soul; you just can't help but dance. I would say a bit underexposed, though. Most current dance music has been influenced by disco in one form or another.
What artists have been finding their way into your set lately? Ejeca and Waze & Odyssey as well as upcoming Push Push guests to familiarize our audience with their work. And there's always room for Kano, Sylvester and Jocelyn Brown.
What's your favorite track of the moment? That changes every moment, but I recently played "Don't Know How" by James Curd and the dance floor ignited! It's got warm vibes written all over it which is perfect for our current setting.
Rebel Disco's Push Push with Tensnake takes place on Wednesday, April 3, at Bar Smith. Doors open at 9 p.m.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.