DJ Dossier

DJ Babel on the Joys of Junglism, Partying With Tone Loc, and His Acid Jazz Side Project

Local spinster Rodrick Mullins typically performs under the spinster moniker DJ Babel (which is an acronym for Beyond All Beliefs Entertain Life). Frankly, he might as well change his nickname to DJ Jungle Boy, since the 34-year-old has a major yen for wild and chaotic variant of drum 'n' bass.

Mullins has been a hardcore junglist since he first started his DJ career back in the Midwest during the late-1990s. He's stuck with it over the past 15 years and has been spotted at such local venues as School of Rock spinning up heavy-duty jungle and d'n'b beats.

We recently spoke with Mullins about his junglist ways, as well as his other alter ego downtempo/acid jazz solo side project Babelonious Thunk and what it was like to hang out with Tone Loc and Digital Underground at local after-hours party.

Name: Rodrick P. Mullins, making my initials R.P.M., so it was kind of a natural calling to do music...or NASCAR

AKA: DJ Babel/Babelonious Thunk

What's the significance of your nicknames?
[Babel] started as an acronym back in 2001. I use to DJ under the name Alias back in Detroit in the late 90's. [Babelonious] came from a trip-hop project. I'm a big fan of Thelonious Monk, so I kinda took Babel and added it to the first name, while still trying to pay a lil' homage with the last name as Thunk.

Have you performed as Babelonious Thunk?
Not yet, I am still building an EP with that name, and would like to present it when it's complete. I would like to debut him sometime in 2012. So I still do hip-hop, d'n'b, and jungle under Babel. But again, the name is for my more down-tempo/acid jazz fusion work.

How did you get into the DJ game?
An old friend that passed away some years back introduced me to it back in March 1997. The first time I played on his decks I instantly had an overwhelming joy that I could not begin to put in words for you. He was a promoter and messed around with them, but wasn't really serious. He was more of a record collector then anything, always looking for the most rare records he could find. It was not till January 1998 that I would own my first pair of Technics SL-1200's.

What are the preferred genres you spin?
Jump-up d'n'b and ragga jungle with some scratching and cutting and a touch of hip-hop and drumstep. I enjoy really live tunes that make people dance with a kinda constipated look on their faces. It lets me know how dirty the bass lines are for them, like a gnarly bassface or Marty McFly's face when he turned on the speaker and plucked the first chord [in Back to the Future].

Is there a proper way to dance or react to bass-heavy shit?
The proper way is to just enjoy it. My rush is watching people go bananas over a tune or a mix.

What sort of tracks gets people going bananas at your gigs?
Well, I suppose that varies from crowd to crowd. I usually try and keep the party going, so the whomp in heavy doses usually does the trick. I try and keep the bass bins humming and the floor wobbling. The biggest genre at the minute seems to be dubstep, so I try and get a wobble going but at a 175 BPM or half-time.

What are the advantages or disadvantages of working in such tightly focused subgenres?
Well, some of the advantages are the creative minds pushing the same sound and watching barriers being broken in front of your ears. And [it] can help with bookings since you have your own kind of "style."

The disadvantages are the lack of bookings at times. This could be due to the lack of exposure from that specific subgenre. It's kind of on the back burner, and most of the fans are from overseas. It's challenging at times, but I feel strong in what I do and the type of music I do. The feeling of change in the wind seems strong in the junglist/d'n'b community. So I feel that this may be the year that begins a new for these subgenres,

Do only a small amount of EDM fans truly appreciate such tightly focused subgenres?
I think when they first start up, yes. Then it all depends on the next step in its evolution.
Although some never really catch on. So then, that type would have a small but dedicated following.

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

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