DJ Dossier

DJ Michael James on the Life of a Wayward DJ

​DJ Michael James is record-hugging transient of sorts. 

The Cream Stereo Lounge resident DJ divides his time between his home in Scottsdale, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, occasionally venturing off the west coast to perform gigs in his hometown of Miami. All of the traveling hasn't sucked his energy, though. His brand of high energy electro house just doesn't die down. James has played alongside Kaskade, Robbie Rivera, Eddie Halliwell, Nick Terranova, Cedric Gervais and Sander Klienenber, but at his August 20 Axis/Radius show, it's going to be all him. We caught up with James to discuss bootlegs, travel stops and the emotional impact of house music. 

Regular gigs: I have residencies at Smashboxx, Axis/Radius, Cream Stereo Lounge (Giant Wednesdays & Stereo Fridays,) as well as recurring guest spots at Spanish Fly and Shaker Room. I've also been doing some touring recently in California and Texas.  I have been fortunate enough to have played the Ultra Music Festival in Miami the last five years along with the WMC anniversary parties at BED.  I'll be in Las Vegas at the end of the month at Drais Afterhours.

Genres spun: Big Room Progressive, electro, funky, vocal, tribal, deep, breaks, mainstream [and] hip-hop... rarely.

What's your policy on fist pumping? [Laughs] Hey, as long as people are happy, I could care less what their hands are doing. Pumping, jumping, shuffling, dancing, clapping - do it all!

What are you listening to these days? Bootlegs mostly, which are hard to find for someone not involved in music. As far as names - Chris Lake, Felix Cartal, Sander Kleinenberg to name a few. Robbie Rivera has always been a huge influence. 

What advice do you have for other DJs? Just practice your butt off and respect your elders. Listen to the guys that have been doing this for a long time that continue to make a living at it.  

How did you get started as a DJ? At the age of 17 I started working security at a club in Tucson called Gotham and The New West. After working there awhile I managed to convince the manager to let me start sitting in the DJ booth, where I began to learn the in and outs of DJing. After about 6 months I started getting shifts and playing weekly shows for over 2000 people. At first it was trial by fire, but it made me a stronger DJ. 

What is it about house music that "does it" for you? I hate to answer a question with a question but, what doesn't it do for me?! I mean, besides paying my bills, I  accredit house music for giving me the opportunity to make all kinds of cool new friends. House music lets me connect with people in a way I just normally wouldn't be able to. I've never been a social butterfly but when I'm DJing, all that goes out the window. I'll get goose bumps when I play an amazing song on a great system, I even cried a little once. Don't tell anyone, please! [Laughs.] I feel incredibly blessed that I get do what I love for a living and it's all because of house music.

You live in Scottsdale and divide your time between the Valley, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Where's your favorite place to be in each city?: At home you'll usually find me at one of our Relentless Beats shows, if I'm not already DJing another venue. Cali is easy, the beach or Main Street [Huntington Beach] for some R&R. In Vegas I get pretty crazy, I can never stay in the same place all the time. However, you will probably at some point see me at Marquee in the Cosmopolitan and late night into the early morning at Drais.

Check out James' eclectic mixes on MySpace.

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Christina Caldwell