DJ Dossier

DJ Organic on The Hot Plate, Crate Digging, and His Mom's Record Collection

For a crate digging DJ, nothing is quite as exciting a truly rare find.

Dry spells are common; you can go months of searching high and low through thrift shops and garage sales with nary a decent find.

For Dominic Khin Htay, known better by his professional handle DJ Organic, the thrill of the hunt is his biggest joy.

"Ma and pop spots, thrift shops, dollar stores, yard sales, estate sales," he says with a mellow drawl. "I'm always stopping by and asking if they have any records stashed away in the basement or whatever."

Organic will be showcasing some of his choice scores Tuesday night at The Lost Leaf, where he will be spinning as part of the reggae edition of The Hot Plate, dubbed "The Ital Plate."

Organic took some time out of his day to speak with Up on the Sun about record collecting, what he's digging these days, and his return to Valley DJing.

Name: DJ Organic

Regular Gigs:

You know, aside from The Plate, I havent been doing much. I took a break because I went to school, kinda put DJing on the back burner, and got back into record collecting and digging and more production. I'm doing 602'uesdays on the first on the month with DJentrification at Bikini. Back in my heyday I was doing gigging four or five nights a week, with things like Blunt Club, commercial gigs in Scottsdale, and side -nights, like the Flavor Shop at Sail Inn. I played at most of the spots around town. I had some other priorities, and got away from DJing, but I'm glad to be back in it, especially with a night like the Plate, kind of a niche night.

Where do you get your records?

Ma and pop spots, thrift shops. Dollar stores, yard sales, estate sales. I'm always stopping by and asking if they have any records stashed away in the basement or whatever.

What's your most prized find?

Jesus, man. You know, there's so much stuff. I found a really cool Black Velvet record, 'Can You Feel It?' at a thrift store in Tucson.

It was 50 cents, and all I had was my debit card. The lady there let me walk out with it. It's a really great soul/funk record, maybe not the coolest record, but a really unique find.

There's hundreds of 'em, I could give you a story for every single one I got.

What are you going to be spinning at Hot Plate?

Next week we are doing The Ital Plate, all reggae, dub dancehall. We're going to try and do that once a month. Got J-cut and Wadat, Tony Culture, and Smite. I'm going to be doing '90s dancehall stuff.

The guys are bringing the roots stuff, so I play a lot of stuff from the mid-'90s, stuff like Beanie Man, Terror Fabulous, Red Rad, Bounty Killer, Tiger, Elephant Man, guys who really hit -- since the 2000s they've been signed to major labels -- but this is stuff from before that, when they had hits in Jamaica.

On nights when The Hot Plate isn't specifically themed, what do you like to play?

The thing about '45s that I've always loved is that with garage sales and rummage sales, is just to find a box or milk-crate full them of them, and they just want five bucks, and they are dusty and don't have sleeves.

Being a fan of so many types of music, it's really fun to come across an old box and have it be filled with a whole bunch of different types of stuff. From collecting like that I've come across stacks of surf rock, rockabilly, old doo wop, and I love that stuff as much as I love soul, funk,  reggae, hip-hop and death metal or whatever. I grew up on so many different styles of music, and I like to try and bring all that to the Plate. 

I love to bring stuff like The Crickets, Bo Diddley, and Johnny Otis, specifically because we advertise that we play all genres. In downtown Phoenix, there's so many types of people, and I want to showcase that I'm into all types of music [because people] are into everything.

How did you get started as a DJ?

My mom had a big record collection, and I just loved records... She used to write her name on them, and phone numbers, and do homework on them, and I was always fascinated by the big picture sleeves.

I gotta give it to hip-hop. Rap music. When I started to explore producer credits, and sampling credits, that's what got me into wanting to know more about where those beats and music came from. Always having an open mind for music has allowed me to's a blessing, because it's allowed me to not be closed off to anything, I can just go across the board.

In '88, '89, '90, those  peak years of hip-hop, that's when I came into it really hard. I couldn't rap, and wouldn't dare pick up a microphone and try to rhyme, so I figured I would be the guy behind the guy wanting to play record and get into production. I just started collecting records, and it went from there.

What's favorite album of the year?

I really like that Anika record on Stones Throw -- I think that came out this year. I like Pill, from Atlanta...he's kind of a side guy, but he has some mixtapes I really like.

That Panda Bear album is a great record. My girlfriend turned me on to Animal Collective. It's cliche to say, but it has great sound reminicent of The Beach Boys, and I was really turned on by that. There's more melody in that sense, but the style and music...they have so much going for them. 

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Jason P. Woodbury is a music and pop-culture writer based in Phoenix. He is a regular contributor to the music blog Aquarium Drunkard and co-host of the Transmissions podcast.