It's shaping up to be a big weekend for Jared Alan.
Mere hours from now, the 29-year-old DJ/producer/scenester/ fashion plate/eagle scout will be staging the "official" re-launch of his long-absent fauxShow Friday Nights gig at Sanctum. Less then 24 hours later, he'll then welcome NYC disco-punk superstars of The Juan MacLean to his weekly Cheap Thrills night at Blackforest Mill.
Despite his packed sked, Alan took time out for an interview for the DJ Dossier, providing the lowdown on his feelings about dance music and the local scene. He seemed somewhat modest and ingratiating for a cat who pretty much sparked off the PHX's electro dance party craze and is arguably the hippest mixmaster in our 'berg, right down to his v-necked tee shirt.
Name: Jared Alan
Current club night(s): fauxShow Friday Nights at Sanctum, and Cheap Trills on Saturday at Blackforest Mill.
Preferred genre(s): I guess anything that falls into the category of ahead-of-the-curve or left-of-center. Not that I don't like it, but I veer away from Top 40 or even indie music that's overplayed. I have a hard time with definitions. I guess I'd say electro, techno, house, rock 'n' roll, disco punk, Goth, and everything in between. I have a pretty broad taste in music, which is pretty obvious if you look at some of the bands I've brought to town. The whole electro genre I have a hard time with because, to me, electro is a completely different kind of music and not that dirty French/chainsaw house stuff that's really popular now.
How did you get started as a DJ? I started in my bedroom making sorta musique concrete, like left-field experimental electronic stuff, and just fooling around with software and I did that for six or seven years before I started playing with DJ software and getting into DJing. I started with that and just going out to club nights and sorta being disappointed with most of the stuff I heard is what gave me the push to start DJing out in public in 2006. It was never a career I had in mind, it just was kinda the logical extension of what I was doing in my bedroom. And I realized there was a hole to fill in Phoenix and I thought I'd give it a shot and it took off pretty quick.
What were you doing before becoming a DJ: Writing music in my bedroom and waiting tables. I worked everywhere: Cheesecake Factory, Macaroni Grill, Pita Jungle, Charleston's, AND Julio G's in Scottsdale.
What's the allure and appeal of nights like fauxShow and Cheap Thrills? I don't know. Dumb luck? I think that the music has had a lot to do with it, me being very picky about what gets played. And also the people I've invited to come play with me. Sean Watson has great taste in music, definitely like fresh and ahead of everyone else. In the short term sometimes this works against you. But in the long run, I think if you keep it fresh, current, and ahead of the trends, you start to grow a fanbase of people who're really into the music and not just the fly-by-night, fair-weather party kids who show up a dissapear every six months. There's this core crowd of people who actually enjoy the music and they come because they like our tastes and want to hear something.
Are there any other reasons? Maybe I'm completely wrong, but I think that I've sort of managed to inject some sort of class into my promotion that isn't so slutty or "in your face." Don't get me wrong, to an extent it is -- I have to whore myself out -- but I believe that I'm sort of polite about it and it's very understated. The first fauxShow flyers didn't really say a whole lot about anything. For the first year I didn't put my name in the promotion or anything. I think if you're screaming "This is gonna be the hottest party of the fucking year" every weekend, people start to get tired of that and it sorta ruins the magic.
There's also a certain sexiness or debauchery involved, right? I guess so. I'm a pretty masculine person, but definitely have a real effeminate side, so I think that probably shows in my flier design and the way I come across. Going out of my way to find the right women to help promote also helps. It's sexy but kinda subtle and not exploitive. I had a couple of fliers in the beginning that were crap, one of them was actually straight out of Suicide Girls. When I'm designing a flyer I'm thinking of tasteful debauchery.
Do enjoy exposing locals to artists like Juan MacLean who wouldn't normally come here? Oh yeah. A lot of those artists like Modeselektor, who I brought to the Brickhouse, we'll be lucky if they'll ever come here again. I've been trying to bring bands to Phoenix that have not been here before and give them a place to play. I've learned pretty quick that that's not a very lucrative business. Being a promoter is a labor of love and only bringing in artists that you like and feel are underappreciated is probably not going to sell a lot of tickets because those people have yet to have very much exposure out here.
Do you think you've had a big influence on the Phoenix dance scene? I do, but I really don't feel I'm in the position to assume something like that. It might have just been that, and maybe that's how influence works, I'm sure a lot of people of similar tastes saw what I was doing and realized they wanted to try it to. One thing I can say is that this music didn't really have a platform before I started doing fauxShow, there really was nothing out there. William [Fucking Reed] was playing great stuff but it was leaning more towards the rock and pop and it was great, and I love all that, and I try to incorporate whenever I can. There's just so much good music that wasn't getting played that I felt people should here.
But people like William Reed and the Party Foul! crew followed your lead, correct? I think shortly after fauxShow proved its success to everyone, William decided to an electro night and then other people with similar tastes started coming to Glam and starting nights themselves, like the Electrostatics and Party Fouls! of the Valley. I'm not saying I was ahead of them in any way, except in the fact that I started doing what I did before them.
Where do you get your music? I actually don't go to a lot of blogs. I've been doing this for so long since before Napster and Audiogalaxy came out. In the beginning I'd find music through other users on those peer-to-peer programs based on similar tastes, picking out new stuff and listening to that. And that grew into a pretty encompassing knowledge of record labels and site. So now I really go to Forced Exposure, it's a catalog that I've always used, from freak folk to hard dance music is released through these guys. I'll go there for music releases or I'll go straight to the label sites for the most part, get the newest material and find it first, maybe edit it or remix it myself. For me it's more fun to find the original material and find it first rather than wait for the people on the blogs to find it.
Track that's currently stuck in your head: Four Tet's "Love Cry."
What else are you listening to these days? The Grizzly Bear hasn't left my stereo since I got it. Fever Ray too. I've always been a fan of Diplo's stuff and Switch out of London, and pretty much anything coming out of Berlin like Modeselektor and Ellen Allien and all of that German techno that I dig a lot. I like a lot of dance rock stuff, like !!! and Datarock and stuff along those lines.