DJ Dossier

DJ Dossier: JonnY Rogers

After spending more than a decade behind the record decks, JonnY Rogers is certain that's it all comes down to creating that perfect mix. Whether it was during his college days interning as a late night electronica jock at WOXY in Cincinnati (the station that will forever be immortalized by its Rainman-worthy slogan: "97X! BAM! The future of rock 'n' roll!") or during his time spinning up scintillating flows as a resident at tony Scottsdale eatery AZ88.

The 34-year-old's mantra has proven especially true with his current gigs at some of the Valley's poshest wine bars and drinkeries like Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale or Hanny's, where he seeks to weave together a fitting flow of downtempo tracks and world music that complements the gourmet food and libations being served.

Name: DJ JonnY Rogers

AKA: Jonathan Rogers

Club night(s): Thursdays at Crush Lounge (next to Christopher's at the Biltmore), Fridays and Saturdays at Olive & Ivy in Scottsdale, and every Sunday you can find me at Hanny's. I also do some weekends at AZ88 in Scottsdale occasionally depending on P-Body's schedule.

Preferred genre(s): I love downtempo, lounge, trip-hop, world beat. Those are the things I really enjoy and also because I do a lot of these upscale restaurants and bars. I get into indie, disco-op, and the different forms of house.

Weapon(s) of choice: I've got some Technics 1200 M3D turntables and also go off the Pioneer DJM 600 with Serato Scratch Live on a MacBook Pro. Sometimes I also have a handful of records and I like to put them on, switching from line to phono and still have that kind of vibe.

How did you get started as a DJ: It was at WOXY in Cincinnati where I started as an intern and they got me on this midnight to 2 a.m. 97 Xtra Beats show and it was all electronic music. All these 12-inch or CD singles that would come in and I'd get to pick and choose and come up with a mix every Saturday. When I came out here after I finished up at the University of Cincinnati, I'd had a mutual friend of P-Body's and he needed somebody to fill in at AZ88. After he saw all the music that I had, which was really inline with everything he plays, he gave me a shot and it all grew from there.

Why are DJs so popular with wine bars and drinkeries lately: I think it has to do with energy. Especially in a time right now when every general manager is trying to find a way to make their place stand out from the rest and be different. For places like Postino, Crush, Bomberos, or Olive and Ivy, you need to keep people there as long as possible, and you do that by creating this total experience with everything: the food, the service, the music. There's obviously a certain sophistication to wine bars and lounges. When you're having a good wine and these fine cheeses, you want to hear something worldy or something you don't normally hear. Music that's not detracting but rather is adding to everything. I know when I've done my job when people compliment me on the music, and I know for a fact that those people stayed for one drink longer.

Why are live DJs better than an iPod: If you've got satellite radio or an iPod, the mix just doesn't flow properly like if you had someone there in person that can set the mood and the vibe correctly at any given point based on who comes in to the restaurant. For example, being at Hanny's, if you've got this convention group that comes in and they're from the Midwest, I'll play something in the classic rock style. So having someone who has 32,000 songs and can play anything at any given point is a plus.

What's your biggest vinyl find: For me personally, it was Underworld's "Mmm Skyscraper I Love You" off of Dubnobasswithmyheadman. It was a rare 12-inch and the sleeve didn't really look that good, but the record was in mint condition. They're my favorite band and that's how I really got into music. There was also an original seven-inch .45 of "One Step Ahead" by Aretha Franklin that Mos Def sampled for "Ms. Fat Booty." I kept on digging and digging in a huge box of 45s and I was able to find it.

What's the track you can't get out of your head right now: "I Love U" by Larry Tee. It's got this sick bassline to it and gets you moving. It's poppy but at the same time it works for the club, and you can't not smile at it.

Who are some of your heroes and influences: I give a lot of respect to P-Body because he's been around for a really long time and he's found a way to re-invent himself in a lot of ways, even with his band. Darren Emereson is also a big one because he was with Underworld but I'd also say Giles Peterson because he's on BBC.

Most memorable moment as a DJ: I would say it was DJing at Tao with my cousin in Vegas, because I loved that club and danced there with a corporate client who completely rented the whole place. We were able to do our thing, they didn't tell us what to play and we really got people going. I had the time of my life there, thinking about all the legends who had been there before us.

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