Chances are you know Aaron Hempsey or at least one of his DJ handles. Billed as monikers such as Swerv Griffin or Rapturo for reputable dance nights like Cheap Thrills, Solstice, The Scenario, and Sticky Fingers, Hempsey has decided to keep things simple for the moment, going by his first name and middle initial, Aaron F.
But what really makes Mr. Hempsey stand out in my mind, is he's one of very few local DJs willing to agree with me that Dubstep is, well... really, fucking annoying. That's not to say, 26-year-old Hempsey hasn't ever appreciated the Dubstep movement-- he's just ready, like the rest of us, to invite more under-discovered genres into our local DJ scene.
Ready or not, Hempsey and local DJ pals, Jake Goldsmith and Scott Owen, are making it happen, through an event they're launching called Rebel Disco.
Rebel Disco will take place next Saturday, on September 17th, at Brick, and feature international DJ, Jacques Renault.
Aaron F. spoke with Up On the Sun about the upcoming gig.
Up On the Sun: Who or what inspired you to start DJing?
Aaron Hempsey: A friend's older brother taught me how to use a mixer when I was 17. Shortly after, I started collecting records and then I bought my first turntable- I could only afford one at the time.
Going to Coachella for the first time was a huge revelation for me. Acts like James Zabiela, Michael Mayer, Mylo, and Daft Punk turned me into a serious fan of electronic music. It was an amazing experience where everything just clicked -- the power of mixing records and creating a story within a set. Being taken on a journey. And then, a trip to Spain finally inspired me to take the craft to the next level and start to DJ in clubs.
What has been your favorite DJ act to hit Phoenix over the past few years?
Too many to name. Recent highlights have been Marques Wyatt, Eli Escobar, and SBTRKT at Bar Smith; Classixx at Brick; Mark Farina and Nick Warren at Pussycat Lounge, amongst others.The Soundwave festival at Big Surf was also a lot of fun-- even in the heavy, drenching rain. Cut Chemist, Boys Noize, and Radar played great sets.
What's the best gig you've played or put on?
Hmm, difficult again. One of the best gigs for me recently was Casa Yeno with Goldsmith at Sticky Fingers. It was a packed house, there was tons of energy and we went all over the grid into some heavy disco-house meets acid-techno electro madness. A great, great
time on the Bar Smith rooftop. Also very memorable was headlining at Solstice for the first time. I was able to to play some of my favorite jams to a very receptive crowd. It was raining and dust storming all night, but the weather cleared at just the right moment and it all came together for a very magical evening.
As far as event put on, it'd have to be Eli Escobar at Scenario. He's a great DJ, and played what I thought was the perfect set. It was all across the board, old classics and newer bombs. Everyone there had a blast. Yeah, that was a proud moment.
Out of all the tunes you play, which one never fails?
One of the best for me recently is Julio Bashmore, "Battle For Middle
You". The bassline is huge and it still sounds fresh every time I hear it. Yeah, it's a great one. Also, Todd Terje "Ragysh". The breakdown in that is ridiculous.
First record you bought?
Prince - Erotic City 12"
What would you like to see more of at weekly DJ nights around the valley?
More quality guest DJs, more speakers, and more bikinis.
Lastly, tell us about Rebel Disco and the special guest DJ, Jacques Renault. Branded once as NYC's #1 DJ -- I guess he's kinda a big shot?
Rebel Disco is a party that some friends and I are throwing at Brick on September 17th. We're bringing in Jacques Renault, who is no doubt one of the best DJs coming out of New York City right now. He's become hugely popular in the past year, touring around the world nonstop and somehow finding time to produce bombs left and right. It's going to be a killer party. There's going to be big sound, fun surprises for the crowd, and it's going to run late. We also have Tiffe Fermaint of Last Nights Outfit hosting. Not to mention the rest of the lineup includes Goldsmith, Scotty Oh!, and myself.