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  DJ Irene





DJ Irene has invited us to come celebrate her birthday on Friday July 18th at Naked in Los Angeles - hope to see you there!


Listen & Buy Fearless here












Related sites

- DJIrene.net
- On the DJlist
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Born Irene Gutteriez in Downey, CA back when disco ruled and 45s were on any music loving-kid's shelf, DJ Irene has come a long way from lifting boxes for UPS... straight up the charts to number one as part of the production team Pusaka, into the crates of the biggest DJs with her own tracks, and now on the phone with us from her Hollywood Hills home for a little chat about eighteen years worth of music memories and the great new projects she's got in the works!

DJ Irene: I just started taking Ti Kwan Do and it really tears you up! So I apologies if I sound a little exhausted.

Jen: That's a serious workout! I just started doing kickboxing, and I could barely walk after the first day.

DJ Irene: I started out doing kickboxing for about a year but wanted to try something different.

Speaking of something different, when was the first time you heard house music?
I remember hearing disco way before house music! The first record I bought was "Boogie Wonderland." I've been buying music and collecting music since I was a kid. My dad gave me a record player, and me and my brother would listen to 45s... and then my brother bought me a stereo for my 13th birthday and he gave me some albums.

Do you remember what some of them were?
One was Jim Croachie [sp?}, another one was Janis Joplin, Carol King. And I had two classical, one "The Gates of Key" by Metroski and "the Overture 1812" by Chaicofski.

So when you were 13 you thought classical was cool?
Believe it or not, yeah.

Did you do other things musically, like play instruments?
I was in band for 10 years in high school.

What kind of band was it?
Well from 5th to 8th we had intermediate school, it was like elementary and junior high combined together, so I played the clairinet for band and orchestra, and then when I went to high school they had a marching band and I played the drums.

Did you hate the uniforms?
Ecchh! Who ever thought up band uniforms? And those big hats we had to wear with the Dippety Do in our hair... plus being the only girl drummer, I had to follow the traditions of the other drummers. All of us had to get dressed in the first bus, in the back. So I'd have to wait for all the guys to get ready and get out before I could get ready!

Kinda prepared you a little bit maybe for dealing with the male dominated DJ world back then.
I guess I've always been in that environment, I was always been a tomboy.

When did you decide you were going to DJ?
When I was in college. I had always wanted to DJ but no one would show me how, until I met a friend of mine in college. I kept bugging him, and finally he said, "well, write me a list of all your records." I had already been buying records for a long time, so he was pretty surprized by what I had, and he told me to put them in bpm order and then I went to his house and practiced. I came from an area where DJs were not respected, I mean you were lucky if you got paid a hundred bucks to DJ a club.

So what was it that made you want to DJ then?
I mean, its not like now where you can become a superstar. You know, I never really planned this! I was DJing... I loved it... I can't say it was a hobby, cause I was getting paid for it, but it wasn't a job because I loved it, and I had a regular job too, working at UPS during the day.

You worked at UPS, the shipping company?
I worked there for 10 years. I was supervisor... or should I say stupidvisor.

You didn't have to wear a uniform again, did you?
No, I worked in the hub where all the packages went into the big trailers. I loaded for 3 years.

Wow, that is really physically demanding work.
It was, but you have to be tough and you have to keep it up... I was hungry.

Was it that hunger that got you your first big break as a DJ?
It kind of just happened. There's been little breaks here and there but the big one was they had let go of the main DJ at Circus and Arena. I had been playing the small room but the owner, Gene, knew I wanted to play the main room. So he auditioned me one night, and after that he said, you know what I'm not going to audition anyone else - you got it!

So you played one night for him and it was an audition?
You should have seen how nervous I was! Talk about shaking! He watched my set!

What kind of music were you playing back then?
Back then it was... I think it was when house was breaking out. I remember when "You Used To Hold Me" came out, Technotronic was happening, a lot of freestyle, Culture Club...

You'd mix those all together?
Oh yeah, that was the music back then.

Now on your CDs, you mix really fast, so in an hour you'll play a ton of tracks. Is that how you were mixing back then too?
I've always had that energy. That's what's kept me in the limelight. I've always kept the excitement going on, I've always changed with the times.

For someone who's never heard you DJ before, how would you describe a one of your sets?
I'm hard at first, but I have a lot of energy in my sets so when I enter you know I'm playing and when I leave, you know I've gone. I've been told by people who said they couldn't stand hard house, but when I play it they just love it.

I know exactly what you mean. When people ask me what kind of music I like, I can't narrow it down to just a few types - its all about the setting and who's playing it and the energy behind it.
Now you've heard my CDs, they are very diverse. I've always played that way, even though I was pigeonholded into the hard house scene, that's not really me. When I started to get more known, that music was really happening, but I've always been able to change. That's my experience coming into play: when you play from a club from 9pm to 4am, you need to be able to change. I remember mixing in disco, hip hop, everything into one night. I would have to bring cases and cases of records. We didn't have CD players back then!

So at least you were able to put your UPS lifting skills to good use!
Damn right I was carrying those crates!

Tell us a little bit about this new mix CD you have out, called "Fearless."
There's about six or seven productions that me and my partner George Centelle did, the first one "Seduction", DJ Irene Blues is sung by Thea Austin who is the singer of "Rhythm Is A Dancer." She also sang for me for the group "Pusaka" which is me, Chris Cox of Thunderpuss. That song went number one on Billboard.

That was "You're The Worst Thing For Me" - that was a great song.
She sang on my intro on the second side of "Fearless." And then there's some breakbeats that me and my guy did, but picking music was kind of hard this time. It was hard for me to find stuff that I liked that I could get, problems licensing or some legality issue, so I ended up doing a lot of productions myself.

I guess it was for the best then, in a way, that you couldn't get those tracks?
Paul Oakenfold had given me a special remix of "Bullet In The Gun" - the Hickies mix, and he says I'm the only one that has it, that he actually thought of me when he made it. Then he went ahead and had his label send me some of his other stuff for it too.

How did you meet him?
Actually, his people came looking for me! I ended up going to meet him in his studio when he was in the middle of working on his album. And you know me and my sense of humor... I had him laughing all over the place.

So considering all your experience, could you give any advice to up and coming DJs out there that might help them along the way?
You have to work really hard. I had a lot of support from the owner of Circus and Arena, Gene La Peitra, but I always fought my own battles. There are haters out there, but it was just in me to do a good job. I was very ambitious and I have a lot of passion for my music and my DJing. And that's probably why my music is so energetic and people have a good time dancing it to it. No matter what happens... like at Coachella, I hadn't had any sleep in two days, plus difficulties getting there, nearly missed my plane, fight with the hotel people when I get there to check in early so I can make it to my 2pm set time at Coachella... the same kind of delays and annoyances everyone has run into traveling at one point or another, but all jammed into right before I was going to play for all those thousands of people. But I get there, and the minute I stepped on stage, none of that mattered, I wasn't exhausted any more. When you have the passion for the music, it just comes out.

That's so true.
Afterwards I did want to collapse!

So what's coming up for you next?
I'm going to start working on my album, taking piano classes now again...

Back to school like you did for learning production?
No, I don't have the time for school... I don't even have the time to do what I already have to do, even with hiring an assistant! I would like to concentrate on writing more.

Are you going to collaborate with people on the album?
I'm doing some research but I'm not going to say what I'm going to do yet, because its my secret. But I am going to give it variety because that's what I am. I'm going to give a dance album. I'm going to give an album which everyone will like.

I look forward to hearing it!
Me too!!!

-- written by Jennifer Warner

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