Jeremiah Gratza Talks DJing as President Gator, Opening for Jimmy Eat World, and How He Almost Managed The Format

Turns out local concert promoter Jeremiah Gratza has more on his plate than just putting on shows, passing out flyers, helping run Crescent Ballroom, and hanging out at hip dance nights.

The 29-year-old, who's a promoter with Stateside Presents, occasionally has performed as DJ President Gator over the past four years. He's spun up a musical menu that includes chillwave and electro at Crescent (natch) or at special appearances at Sticky Fingers and Cheap Thrills.

We spoke with Gratza recently about his part-time DJ career as well as how he got into spinning and how, back in 2005, he almost had a chance to manage The Format.

Name: Jeremiah James Gratza

A.K.A.: President Gator

Prefered genres: Indie, electro, downtempo, chillwave, witch house

How did you get into the DJ thing?
Funny story, actually. My friend from the "west side" wanted to start a dance night out there a few years ago and [asked] if I would be her resident DJ. I told her I didn't DJ and had never done it before and she said, "That's fine." So I asked William Reed and Jared Alan if they would help and teach me. They did [and] we all DJ'd at this dive bar in Glendale called Donna Jean's Libations. So when all these "hipsters" invaded Glendale, it was the funniest thing ever! I think I have pictures somewhere. I keep getting horrible requests from the regulars.

Like what?
Bon Jovi, Lynyrd Skynyrd, et cetera. They had never heard of anything we were playing before! Needless to say, that dance night didn't last but two or three weeks, if that!

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What's the significance of your nickname President Gator?
Oh, God. I used to manage bands back in the day, and I didn't have a name for my company at the time. I really wanted to manage this new up-and-coming band called The Hot Guy Band (it was members of this older band called Nevergonnascore [also] featuring Sam Means and Nate Ruess). When they broke up they formed, The Format and The Hot Guy Band. Mike Jarmuz put his money on The Format, and I put mine on the later. Needless to say, they were interested in me managing them under one condition: I call my company President Gator, based on a comic book they gave away at their shows. Eventually people just started referring to me as President Gator.

Where have you previously performed?
Well, I opened for Jimmy Eat World at Crescent Ballroom, I had my dance night, Boomstick! there as well. I've also been a guest DJ for Party Foul, Cheap Thrills, and Sticky Fingers before.

What bygone club/bar do you miss the most?
Homme Lounge was a lot of fun

Craziest shit you've seen at a gig?
Someone showed up to one of my sets at Cheap Thrills dressed up as a Teletubbie and started a dance floor going.

What's been you're most memorable experience as a DJ?
Definately getting to open for Jim Adkins! I have J.E.W. lyrics tattooed on my chest.

So how does one get a DJ gig at the Crescent?
I guess just ask myself or Charlie [Levy]. Ha-ha.

What's the key to a good gig?
Promotion, promotion, promotion.

Do you have any mantras when it comes to DJing?
Keep the audience in mind and play for them, not yourself.

Do you make mixes or drop tracks?
I would love to make mixes in the future, but I haven't yet. I do drop tracks all the time, though.

Which blogs/sites do you regularly peruse for music?
Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound, Hype Machine, Earmilk, Blahblahblahscience.

Favorite track of the moment:
Friends, "I'm His Girl." It's fun, dancey and it's got this kind of '80s throwback thing to it, but in a good way, not the cheesy, cliché, overdone kind of way. You know what I mean?

What other artists have been worked into your sets lately?
Purity Ring, for sure! I somehow became attached to these artists who only have a two-three song online presence. It leaves some kind of mystery to them. I also love the Weeknd!! Sexy-time Jams!!

Feelings on the death of MCA last week?
It was really sad, but at least it wasn't something stupid like an OD. He went out with pride and honor. I am really glad I got to see them at least once live.

Besides promoting, DJing, and going out, what else occupies your time?
My house. I'm installing sprinklers this Saturday. God, that makes me sound old. I'm [also] working on my book. It's been five years in the making.

When's your next gig?
Might do a secret guest spot at Sticky Fingers or Crescent sometime soon.

Where does one get a cool pair of white frames?
Import them from Italy. They are 1960s Ray Ban sunglasses [frames].

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