DJ Dossier

DJ Organic on His Love of Soft Rock and How He Used to Buy Old Ladies' Record Collections

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If you're unfamiliar with what exactly yacht rock is, it's the easygoing rock 'n' roll (think Robbie Dupree, Michael McDonald, Doobie Brothers, and Toto) that your mom and dad might've listened to back in the late '70s and early '80s.

For hipster types, there was a big fixation with yacht tock a few years back that included club nights where they jammed out such tunes while poking fun at yuppies that used to listen to the tunes on their yachts (hence the genre's name) while wearing nautical wear like boat shorts and Sperry Top-Siders. But -- like most hepcat trends -- the yacht rock obsession eventually sailed into the sunset long ago.

For DJ Organic, however, spinning up the sometimes-cheesy soft rock, easy listening, and album-oriented hits of the late '70s and early '80s was more than just a passing fad. It's music he was raised on and still enjoys to this day.

"It's nostalgic and definitely transports you back to a certain time, like when rode around with my mom in her car listening to the local soft rock stations growing up," he says. "Its has a sorta niche thing with the yacht rock tag attached, but I've always really dug it. It seems corny, but it's still good."

Hence the inspiration behind Mellow Heat, a one-off yacht rock night Organic has occasionally put on at Rips during the warmer months of the year that included him and his patrons dressing for the high seas. With spring currently slipping into summer, he's bringing it back as a monthly starting tonight. Organic will be joined by a crew of fellow DJs -- including Valley Fever's Dana Armstrong, Bob and Katey Time from The Rebel Set, M-Fasis, and J.P. Woody -- as they sail the seas of soft rock.

We got the chance to interview Organic last night outside of the Tempe's Yucca Tap Room about his love of yacht rock, the origins of his DJ career, and how he scored his first records as a selecta from an old lady.

Name: Dominic Khin Htay

A.K.A.: DJ Organic

Preferred genres: By trade I'm really a hip-hop DJ, but over the years I've become extremely versatile. And I think that's really important. The biggest thing I've got going for me is that I'm really versatile.

Current gigs: Wednesdays at Rips for Uptown, Thursdays twice a month at Blunt Club, a post-punky/New Wavey/New Romantic thing every second and fourth Friday at the Red House Pub, and the Yacht Rock thing once a month through the summer every third Friday. I'm sort of all over the place.

Briefly, how did you get into the DJ game? It started with hip-hop, because I was so about rap music and the culture and everything. I wanted to be a part of that, but I knew I could never rap, so I decided to DJ. But I didn't even really know where to start, so I just sort of [sought] it out in my own way. I saw someone DJing and it hit me: all the music that I loved, that's what those guys were doing.

I figured out that had to be a DJ and I started playing records and doing hip-hop stuff. And again, because I grew up on several types of music, I didn't want to play only hip-hop, I wanted to play all this other stuff, too. But basically it was hip-hop that really got me into wanting to be the guy working records. So I'll just buy some turntables, since that seemed like the right thing to do, since all my heroes that made beats were DJ Premiere and DJ Beatrock

What sort of turntables? Two Technics 1200s and I still have 'em today.

What was the first album you bought after getting your turntables? I've always been really big on thrifting and knocking on old ladies' doors and asking them if they had old crates of records around, so I can't pinpoint a specific record. I remember after getting my turntables, I walked next door to a lady that lived next to my mom and asked if she had any records. She coincidentally had a couple boxes of old Motown records. So even with wanting to be a hip-hop DJ, I started cutting and doing everything was on old soul records.

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