Corey Eaton is a fairly straightforward guy. He doesn't rock a clever or overly pretentious DJ moniker and tends not to put on any airs about himself or his chosen profession. The 35-year-old -- who maintains weekly residencies at several of the Valley's Dos Gringos locations, as well as Fat Tuesdays in Tempe -- simply enjoys the thrill of being behind a pair of turntables spinning up crowd-pleasing hits for flocks of clubgoers.
This past Monday, Eaton worked the biggest gig of his 11-year DJing career when he performed at the Sixth Street New Year's Eve Block Party in Tempe for more than 3,000 souls. It was pure bliss for the selector as he got to drop Top 40 hits and watched the crowd get its groove on - including eight-year-old b-boy wunderkind - as 2012 drew to a close. We recently spoke with Eaton about the experience, as well as his unabashed passion for DJing and his pimped-out ride, a flashy Honda Element he's dubbed "The Jambulance."
Name: Corey James Eaton
AKA: DJ Mr. Eaton
Preferred genres: Everything. For me, when people come see my shows, there's nothing I can't spin. I don't stick to one genre. There's a lot of DJs out there and I respect them all but people come out to my shows expecting to hear everything. From Too $hort to Tupac, from R. Kelly to Flo Rida, to Skrillex to Guns 'n' Roses. It depends on my crowd.
Current gigs: Monday nights at Dos Gringos in Tempe, Tuesday nights at Jersey's in Chandler, Wednesday nights at Fat Tuesdays in Tempe, and Fridays at Dos Gringos in Chandler. Also the occasional one-off and pick-up shows.
What's your mantra when it comes to DJing? What I do, I'm kind of a party DJ. I read my crowd really well, what I tell people who ask me what do I spin, and I say there's nothing I can't spin. I'll throw in some country if I have to. It just depends on my crowd, because my crowd is my passion, my crowd is my soul, my crowd is the reason why I DJ. I'm not the kind of DJ that flat out says, "I'm not gonna play that for you." That's why I've been doing this for 10 years, I just tripped and fell into it. I Just have this passion for music. It's even tattooed on my body for a reason. I love all types of music and I adapt to my crowd.
What are your best skills? My mic skills. When I got into this business and met my business partner, I started as a hype man. I had a cordless microphone and was the host. When people came in I took care of them, make sure they got drinks, got the music they liked, got a seat, and had a great time. And lo and behold, I eventually became a DJ and kept going and going with my mic skills. My partner was a DJ and a hype man. He taught me what he knew, then he retired and I took it from there. I just learned from all my DJ friends, picked up my skills, and have been going ever since. My heart and soul is the mic: Hyping up the crowd, having a good time, and keeping the energy going. I just want to make sure that everyone is having fun, no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing.
Describe your tattoos. I got two music notes on both sides of my arms. My headphones are literally tattooed on my right arm. I'm getting ready to get half-sleeves done with a turntable and needle going into my vein, because DJing is my drug. If I don't DJ for four days, I don't know what to do with myself. I just went back to Kansas for the holiday and I got to DJ there. I've DJ'd in Maui. I've DJ'd in the Virgin Islands. If I go on vacation I need my tables. It's my life, it's my heart, and it's my soul. Entertaining is my world.
Explain the Jambulance. I bought a Honda Element way back when. I'm a marketing genius in my own head, so me and my business partner were at the time thinking, "What could we do with it?" So because I have a buddy of mine from Right Signs who wanted to wrap it for me and I was like, "Okay that sounds good." First I came up with the idea of a "Jambulance," then I came up with our [DJ] company, Emergen-C Entertainment. I wanted it like a DJ ambulance, so that's why its called the Jambulance. There's a [caduceus] symbol with a microphone in the middle.
Does one call the Jambulance when they are having a beat attack? Yeah. I guess so, when it comes to that sort of thing. But the reason why I got it done is so I can park it outside of a club or a bar or wherever I'm DJing. When I'm DJing, I see random people taking pictures of themselves with the Jambulance and that means a lot to me. It should have its own Facebook.
What's the craziest shit you've seen at a gig? Let me put it this way...I used to host a wet t-shirt contest for three years at Margarita Rocks. Use your imagination. I've seen girls do uncontrollable things. When it comes down to it, I just love seeing people getting crazy and having a good time.
What's your particular poison when performing? Jaeger bombs. All day.
What's your favorite song of all time? Kool and the Gang, "Celebration." That's been my ringback tone for the past five years, because my life is a celebration and I want everybody's life to be a celebration. When people call me, they always say, "Hey, you weren't supposed to answer, I was still singing along to that!" (Laughs).
Was the Sixth Street New Year's Eve Block Party the biggest crowd you've ever worked? Absolutely. 100 percent. It was like 3,000-plus people and I had goosebumps from head-to-toe all night long. I'm still talking about it. People keep coming up to me asking, "That was you up there, wasn't it?" All my friends are proud of me. It was unbelievable. Bar none, it was the biggest gig of my life.
Were you nervous? At first, yeah. But once I got into it, I just tried to be myself and the crowd accepted it. They loved it and I didn't have to worry about it. I was jumping back and forth.
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What was the best moment of the night for you? Oh my God...this little kid, he couldn't have been more than eight years old, had a huge circle around him when he was breakdancing. I stopped the music for 3,000 people and pointed him out. And that, to me, meant the world. He was having the time of his life. And that's why I do what I do. I hope when he gets older he remembers that. I was spinning just this typical Top 40 song and someone hit me up and said, "Look at this little kid."
Any resolutions for 2013? In any year, I've never really had resolutions in any year. It's always been the same: Just keep being me, never change who I am, and always be true to myself. And I try to instill that into everyone I meet.
What advice do you have for newbie DJs? Be you. Don't worry about what people tell you. Always be you. Respect other DJ's advice. Don't undercut. Dig your genre. Listen to your crowd. Love your crowd. And just have fun.