DJ Dossier

DJ Melo Talks Moombahton, SXSW, House Parties, Toy Selectah, KMD, and More

Numerous local bands and artists are headed to South By Southwest over the next week to represent our fair city, including Random, Kinch, and the boys of Gospel Claws.

Turns out you can also add DJ Melo to that esteemed list, as the 36-year-old Karamba resident will be travel to Austin for guest appearance at renowned DJ Dave Nada's moombahton massive next Friday night.

Before he sets his sights on SXSW, however, Melo took time out of his busy schedule to visit with us for this week's edition of DJ Dossier.

Name: Jorge Melo

AKA: DJ Melo

Current schedule: I spin at Karamba at Wednesdays and Saturdays, or wherever I can get a spin gig.

Genres spun: Latin, pop, and dance music. Whenever I can get another side gig I bring everything from disco to funky stuff on 45s to moombahton. It depends if I'm playing vinyl or Serato.

How did you get into the DJ game? I've been DJing probably since the early '90s when I was really young, doing house parties. Then around 2000 I started doing club gigs.

Are you a mellow guy? Yeah, I'd say so.

Why do you dig moombahton? When I heard it, it just seemed like something that was sorta tailor-made for me. It's basically a mixture of reggae, reggaeton, Latin music, house music, and electronic music around 110 B.P.M. that was developed by Dave Nada. It's kinda all the stuff I've been into the last few years. It seemed perfect for me.

DJ Melo - Star Time (110 bpm) NOW AVAILABLE ON MOOMBAH ORIGINAL! by azdjmelo

Have you spun with Dave Nada before when he came through the Valley? I was there but didn't spin. My friend Riot Earp performed with him. Then again, nobody was at that show. There were like 12 people on the dance floor.

How do you feel about performing in Austin during South By Southwest? I am super excited. It's gonna be great. I'm probably gonna be playing a tag team set with this guy David Heartbreak from North Carolina (no relation to the DJ here). We're playing a 30-minute set right before Dave Nada. He and Dylan Francis and Dean Sabbo will be doing a triple-team set. The party's on Friday at Club De Ville and is gonna be called Peligrosa Moombahton Massive. It's a mixture of these two parties: Peligrosa is this thing they put on out in Austin, and Moombahton Massive is the party that Dave throws in Washington, D.C.

What's been your best experience as a DJ?Every night I play it's fun to get to perform, drink, feed off people's energy, and get paid. It may sound cheesy, but I'm just glad to be able to do something that's easy and really fun for me.

And your worst experience?Probably back during the old days during the house parties when they got broken up by the cops. When you're young, you kinda don't look at the danger. But if you think about it, you're bringing hundreds of dollars worth of equipment to house where you don't really know who lives there. And the police come and everyone's around 21 years old or younger. You don't think about such things and just have fun.

What were those old school house parties like? I remember the party would start about 9 p.m. and get broken up around 11, which was probably our fault for playing the music too loud too early in the evening. There would be a keg and they'd be charging $3 to $5 at the door. I don't wanna say too much because it might inspire some young cats to start doing things again. It was fun, though, in those days everyone was dancing to hip-hop, old school funk, and hard house music. I remember when I first went to these parties, it was people like Pete Salaz, Direct Force DJs, and Mystical Effects performing. And I would show up and say, "Let me play a set." So, not much has changed for me.

Who else was big in the local scene when you started out?I remember people like Len Sobeck (he's not around anymore) and Eddie Amador were in the house scene. Over in the party crew scene it was guys like Z-Trip and Emile. A lot of those old days were a blur for me.

Craziest thing you've experienced at a gig? I remember this one event. This one promoter was shady and threw a rave out on the West Side and the cops came and busted it up. I was outside and I had borrowed some equipment and the cops wouldn't let me back in to get it. I got a call from DJ Tranz about how they got my equipment and lugged it down from the second story. I barely knew the guy and he helped me out.

What's your mantra? Anything goes. If you're into something, do what you like. Do your thing and I'm sure it will pay off. Hard work always pays off.

How do you go between rocking a Latin vibe at Karamba one night and going to a joint like Bar Smith? One pays my bills and the other is to keep me sane. Or to satisfy my ego maybe. Every DJ wishes they could see a packed crowd dancing to their selections. I gotta pay bills, so I play stuff that I'm not really into. But I like pop music too. I try to be versatile. I like all kinds of music. Sometimes I like stuff for a few weeks and then I don't wanna touch it for months.

Worst request you've ever gotten?Anything could be a bad request if you're not ready to play it.

Which underground artists have you been pimping lately? Toy Selectah's about to drop an album and I can't wait for it. I'd love to sneak that into my commercial sets.

What sites do you use for music? Soundcloud. You can get almost everything you need.

Do you shop locally for music? I haven't been to Stinkweeds, but I like going there. I mostly buy online, but I miss those days of digging around at local stores.

How many records are currently in your collection? Wow. My mom's back room at her house is almost the size of a one-car garage and all four walls are filled. About 15,000 records maybe.

What's your favorites in the collection I don't have a lot of rare things and I like that I have a little bit everything. I did a lot of work getting all the '80s New Wave records. I really love those things, the extended 12-inch version of those pop songs. I grew up with those and will always cherish 'em. I also grew up listening to disco as a kid. I had a lot of older brothers and sisters who went out dancing and I inherited their collections.

Last album purchased: KMD's Mr. Hood, the one with "Peachfuzz" on it.

Track that's been going through your head lately? Sounds cheesy, but I've been singing Lady Gaga's latest single. It keeps reminding me of Madonna. If I here that for a second, I'll be singing Madonna and combining them in my head.

When you're not DJing, where can you be found? Taking care of my two kids.

Preferred poison while DJing: Budweiser bottles, that's my thing. My gut don't like it, but you can drink a ton of them and not get too messed up.

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