DJ Dossier

DJ Ariel Perez Talks Detboi, Night Thieves, Dutch House, Whiskey Pete, and More

Name: Ariel Perez

AKA: The Ariel

Current club nights: Every Saturday I play with my crew the Night Thieves at Brick for White Rabbit. Occasionally I play at Sticky Fingers and Ransom and Fuse Friday, and every Tuesday night I play at Electrostatic at Philthy Phil's.

Genres spun: Oh, man. Right now my big thing is Dutch House and electro and I [also] play dubstep, drum 'n' bass, downtempo...pretty much anything.

How did you get started as a DJ? My cousin was babysitting me when I about 11 or 12. He came back from Europe with a whole bunch of cassette tapes and introduced me to what he called, "techno music without words." So I listened to that. And he had some belt-drive turntable with a little a crumby mixer and he started making me DJ while I stayed with him over the summer. And I just kept on with it.

Who's your favorite new artist? I'm going to have stick with Detboi on that one. His stuff is pretty awesome. Another person I really like is Hostage.

Best experience as a DJ: I think one of the coolest times that I've every played was a private party in San Francisco where you needed a password and a map to get to, like some crazy unmarked building. And you had to go up six stories and the whole floor in this building in the middle of downtown hosted a party. You wouldn't have been able to tell what it was unless you were on the same floor and at the top level there was a chill out area.

And the worst? I was playing at a private beach party in Mexico and my friend (who was also my emcee at the time) was driving my car because I drove all the way out there and I was sleeping in the back. So he drove the car and found the party and he decided since my car is all-wheel drive that he could go on the beach. It got stuck in the sand and I had to leave it in Mexico for two days.

Craziest shit you've seen at a club? I've seen underage drinking and drug doing and chicks having all kinds of crazy times when I was around the late '90s. Other than a knife fight in L.A. this one time, that's about it.

Any mantras when it comes to DJing? I guess it's, "If you're honest with yourself and play what you like, people are going to feel it too." And it makes for a better communication with your audience.

What clubs have you previously spun at? All the clubs are in Phoenix like Bar Smith and Rips and places like that. I played at Freedom when it was there, as well as Cinespace and the Vanguard in LA. I've been DJing for 18 years, so there's been a lot of weird places that I've been to.

Who else is involved with the Night Thieves? Zachary J. Stevens, BC/AD, Benni Beatnik, Prince $$, The Get Downnn, Kid Turnswell, YKNOT, and Swookie Monster.

Why are you guys called the Night Thieves? We were trying to come up with names and we pretty much take over the evening whenever any of us are on deck. Everybody in the whole crew is pretty talented in my opinion so we steal the show. That's it right there for me, we have a great time and play great music.

What are some of the benefits of being a member? Well, for one, you have a family of DJs that are really close. And we are all pushing each other to be more creative. I trust them fully and we kind of have this whole type of support network with each other to help each other out. I am definitely fortunate I have such awesome friends that I'm also crewmates with.

What are some of the underground artists you've been championing in your sets lately? Whiskey Pete from L.A. He emcees over electro and I always get his newest stuff and it's always really high quality. Whoever he works with is really talented, so I'm always trying to push that stuff.

What sites do you use for music? I get music sent to me from producers, so I don't really jump on the blogs too much. If I had to choose some, The Get Downn is a good one and I peruse Belle once in awhile. 

Last album you purchased? I love to buy vinyl, so whenever I can find anything cool then I'll snap it up. The last thing I bought was the latest Black Candy release. It wasn't what I expected, but it's still good stuff to listen to. I also downloaded Stevie Wonder's The Definitive Collection.

Track that's been going through your head lately: Right now I'm preparing for a gig, so a lot of songs are going through my head. Pretty much one thing that I end up singing to myself a whole bunch is "Basslines In" by Jacob Plant featuring JLB. It's the Mensah remix.

Jacob Plant feat JLD - Basslines In (Mensah Remix) by cr2records

Any projects in the works? I'm in my studio working these days on some Dutch House, just getting drums really tight. Usually it's a really long process for me, just because I have so much to do. Before I was working on some ambient and downtempo but now it's kind of shifted because of all the new music coming out which got me inspired to push things further.

When you aren't DJing, where can you be found? Either in my studio, on my bike, or at work.

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