DJ Dossier

DJ Decipha Talks 101.5 Jamz, House Music, Bam Bam, Chuckie, Tiesto, and More

Name: Chris Hernandez

AKA: DJ Decipha

Best Known For: DJing on 101.5 Jamz

Current gigs: Right now I do Fridays at Airia and Saturdays at Lucky Strike.

Genres spun: I like old school hip-hop and R&B. Lots of New Jack Swing too, like TLC, SWV, and Jodeci from that era. That kind of stuff. I definitely have fun with it because when hip-hop and R&B was at an all-time high. Now it's...I don't even know what it is now. I also love doing house and electro and progressive and everything like that.

How did you get started as a DJ? I actually started as a producer. I played band all through school and was already into music and around the era of Wu-Tang and when Jay Z was first starting out. I started wanting to produce beats and I actually started doing music for my brothers. They were writing Raps and I was the one actually producing all the beats.  And I got a hold of a little Yamaha 8 track keyboard and it had 127 sounds in it. Eventually I got some Technics and a bunch of those old school house records from the 90s and early 2000s and learned how to blend those nonstop. 

Craziest shit you've ever seen in a club: People getting it on in the VIP. Fights are no surprises, if you've worked enough clubs you know  that fights happen regardless, whether if you're in the best spot in the world  or the shittiest spot in the world a fight's going to happen.

What's the benefits and drawbacks with working for a radio station? The benefit is always the exposure, just getting your name out there, whether or not if people associate you with the radio station or not, just the fact your name is registering in their head is important. It's always a positive thing. The drawback is always being pigeon holed. It's the fact that because you're on a Top 40 hip hop station and they think that's all you do.

What's one thing you've wanted to play on the air at 101.5 that you weren't able to? I've always wanted to bring back a House show. That was like my ultimate goal. I wanted some just dope house music.

What is your opinion on the local DJ scene?  It was definitely a watered down scene for awhile, but little by little the cream always rises to the top and I think we're getting back to that with as Serato is increasing with the technology, people are grasping technology a lot more. Technology mixed with skill is also becoming greater, so the more that happens, the people that didn't spend that time digging for records and cutting on regular vinyl and understanding the depth of music and the libraries and just knowing their history.  All those guys are starting to fall off little by little.

Who are you icons and influences? You've got to give the respect to AM for everything that AM's done and putting Serato in the forefront whether guys won't admit it or not of where they learned Serato from, the majority of them learned it off of YouTube and watching AM doing routines.

What are some skills that every good DJ needs?  Cutting is still something that I put up there pretty high because if you can't bring a record in clean and on time at the drop of a dime because you think your crowd needs it right then and there then that's something that you're not going to be able to fake. 

What's been your best experience as a DJ? Just the amount of people I get to meet.  Just being in the middle of the crowd and you meet people of all ages, especially if they like what you're doing, they won't be afraid to come up to you and tell you, "Hey, you're doing a great job.  Hey, I love everything you're playing." 

What's the worst request you've ever gotten? Well ultimately the worst request that you always get in your nights are for the song that is the hottest song that they want you to play at 9 p.m., at the beginning of your night and they keep on nagging you, nagging you...always. Because eventually, if you're a smart enough DJ and you know that this is the crowd that you're playing for, you know for a fact that you're going to play that track. But if you're a smart DJ, you know that you're going to save that for a hot spot because that's how you program correctly. 

What's one stereotype about DJs that people have totally untrue. That we fuck all the waitresses. Just kidding.

Okay, then. Well what's one thing about yourself that would surprise others? That I don't shit where I eat. That basically, I take this seriously. It's my job. It's what not only fuels my love and passion but it does also pay my bills.  So, if I'm at a club for four hours, I'm prepping 10-15 hours for it. 

How much work do you put into a mix? There's probably not one day that I don't actually sit there and digging or finding something new.  I'd say, every single day when I wake up I'm on my computer.  I'm on my laptop.  I wake up, I get my coffee and I'm on either my desk top or my laptop just digging for music and then finding new music and then once i find music, then I go straight to the turntables and I go and try it out.

What sites do you use for music? The main ones for music I actually use Break the Crates.

Which underground or unknown or unsigned artists have you been pimping in your sets? One recently that I've been on and this is more on the commercial side is Tiny Tempah. He's a guy that's been doing mixed tapes over in the UK for quite some time and then he hopped on a Swedish Mafia House track, put that on his album for his UK release and then just barely started coming out over here in the US.

What's the last full album you purchased? It's been a long time since I purchased an album, because ever since I've been working for the radio station I haven't had to purchase anything. The last N.E.R.D. because I couldn't get a promo copy of it.

Track that's been going through your head lately? Probably a house track by DJ Bam Bam called "1-2-3-4."

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