DJ Dossier

D-JR Talks Pussycat Lounge, Requests, Blockhead, Z-Trip, and More

Name: J.R. Philips.


Current club gigs: I'm at Dirty Pretty on Tuesdays, Airia at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler on Thursdays, Pussycat Lounge and Dirty Pretty on Friday and Saturday (kinda like a rotation, I'm either at one or the other). I'm also doing PCL on Sundays several times throughout the month.

What's your DJ origin story: I used to go to raves and underground parties in the '90s when I was just a teen. Then I got one turntable, learned to scratch in my bedroom.

Genres spun: I'm pretty much the board. I grew up listening to drum and bass and classic rock, classic funk, soul, house music, and break beats (influences from my mother, father, and sister). As I got a little bit older I got really into hip-hop really heavily. So, all those things really come out while I'm playing.

What's a typical set like? I really enjoy the first hour and the last hour of my set because that's when you can really get loose. And the middle, the peak hours, would be like the meat and potatoes, giving the crowd what they want with my spin on it. But for the first and last hour would be more about me being as creative as possible. I think a DJ should remind himself that the audience is there at all times.

A lot of guys are not willing to take any risks. I think there are a lot of risks involved with DJing. With the recession the way it is it's a little bit harder to get that stuff into your set because it's a different caliber of clientele where as before...weekend warriors, the bottom of the barrel.

What are some of the other clubs you've spun at over the years? I've done everything. The grand opening of Myst, I had a residency at Acme, and a regular gig at a club called Thirty Three when they were open. I've done almost every venue from The Bash on Ash to [Minder Binders] that old red barn that's on McClintock. I've even played Dodge Theater.

Who's influenced your career? Yeah, I really want to play at Pussycat Lounge, definitely...The owner Ryan Jocque has been a tremendous influence on my DJing. He's encouraged me to be as experimental as possible with my music and he's really positive owner in the sense that he's very forgiving. He'll let you take risks and get away with it. A lot of clubs have a very strict playlist and or style of music they want played. Ryan's really open about it. He always books phenomenal talent from around the country, going in and watching them play and seeing how it's different. I love it there, it's my home.

Best experience as a DJ? There are so many. I got a chance to go play with Z-Trip at Aspen recently. That was a really, really fun time. When I go play in Vegas and bring some friends, that's always fun. I honestly think the best things are to come. I think that winning the Threestyle battle in March was maybe the best experience I had. To go up against people that I've come up with, my peers and all my friends and also people that have influenced me for years, to be able to claim victory on that night was really awesome.

Worst request you've ever gotten? When someone asked if they could check their Facebook on my computer while I was DJing.

Did you let them? No, but in hindsight it would have been awesome if I had. Just the novelty of it. Just to see how fucked up it's gotten in the club scene, where technology is today. I think some of the worst requests I've ever gotten are from other DJs to be honest.

What do you mean? I mean, people want to come up and hear their specific stuff. DJs will come up and ask for the most random shit because they have such a great knowledge of music, so they know it won't work the crowd and it's cool. It's cool because you get to hear their opinions. But at the same time it's like, 'Fuck, you realize that I'm trying to work right now? Your request for a fucking Neil Diamond b-side is really not doing it for me."

What sites do you use for music? I read a lot of charts but also use iTunes a lot. It's something that I've grown to learn to love because now you can play the files in Serato directly. For electronic music there's a site called Vaycay Vitamins. And Beatport of course. My favorite source of music is still my record collection.

Explain: I go in and pick stuff out. I'll grab a Grover Washington or something like that and type it in on Google in Hi Def and try to remix it. I'll see stuff to remix it with and find the original and play that.
Where do you shop locally: I haven't shopped locally in some years, in about two years. I still go out and look but I haven't really purchased anything in awhile.

Which underground artists and performers have you been pimping lately? I've really been getting into a lot of '70s disco and Italio disco.

What else have you been listening to lately? I'm really listening to Blockhead a lot. He's an underground producer who's worked with Aesop Rock. I squeeze some of his stuff in when I can.

Last album purchased: Southernunderground by Cunninlynguists

Track currently going through your head: "The Daily Routine" by Blockhead.

When you are not DJing, where can you be found? I'm with my family all the time, if I'm not with family then I'm with friends, chopping it up, going through music, talking about stuff.

Preferred poison when DJing: Water and Seven and Seven.

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Benjamin Leatherman is a staff writer at Phoenix New Times. He covers local nightlife, music, culture, geekery, and fringe pursuits.