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  Offworld Music
Record label catering to innovative music, artists and producers - from drum&bass to hip hop and electronic.

Apply here to become one of our partners.
 
 

 

 

  JASON LEE
 

 

 





 



 

 

  

 

 

 





 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Getting his start in 1991, this DJ From Washington has spun everywhere from California to Florida. Spinning mostly Progressive House and Breaks this DJ/producer isn't afraid to throw down whatever tracks he wants at his residency at 26mix in San Francisco for the sake of keeping it fresh and keeping clubbers grooving! I got in touch with this old schooler from back in the day to hear what he had to say, what his current goals are and what kind of wonderful things lay before him in this wonderful scene we all love and appreciate! Check out his website at http://jl.halogen.org to see when you can catch this cat at his next gig!

Born: February 27th 1973 in Bremerton, Washington

Years spinning: 13 Years!

Music types: Progressive House, Tech House, Breaks, Electro, Techno, Dark Trance, Down tempo, and Ambient.

Influences: There is only one DJ that really influenced me and continues to influence, that DJ is Sasha. I remember seeing him spin in Orlando Florida in 1993 and experiencing the control that he held over the floor and the sound that was emanating from his set was legendary. Shortly after that listening to his QAT Collection, Renaissance Mix with Digweed, and Arkham Asylum I've been obsessed ever since. To this day there is no DJ that is quite like him. Other musical influences generally come from all the producers that really push music in a direction it's never gone before. Such artists include Charlie May, Junkie XL, Hybrid, Blackwatch, John Digweed, Slacker, Fluke, Leftfield, Chicane, James Holden, Oliver Lieb, Underworld, Orbital, and Luke Chable, I am drawn to big tunes, but I more so like the quality and depth in which all these producers have been able to put out there.

How did you get started?

In high school sometime around 90 or 91 about every other week the school sponsored a mobile DJ to come play music in the outdoor courtyard during lunch breaks. Seeing this guy play music that he loved in ways that created a vibe for the hour was intriguing. Needless to say after being bit by the bug a trip to Good Guys and buying a $100 mixer, and picking up a couple of tables from a flea market in 91 I was well on my way to becoming a DJ.

What was the 1st record you ever bought?

First record I ever bought on vinyl was Bryan Adams back in 1984. A few years later I started buying stuff like Soft Cell, Depeche Mode, Erasure, and New Order. I've been addicted to record shopping ever since! It's a very expensive habit, but one I encourage!

What/Where was your 1st gig?

My 1st gig was at this party called "Rave and Stimpy" located at a Mission in Stockton, CA back in 1992. The party like many others back then was based on the theme for the newly popular animated series Ren and Stimpy. It was a great party that got busted, but at that time, the cops really didn't know how to handle the event, they kindly asked us to end it around 3am just after my set!

How did you end up in Los Angeles?

Ok, I'll admit that I lived in the Valley (Northridge) for about 4 months in 1996; however I left my heart in San Francisco where I currently live ;)

Do you currently have any residencies?

I hold a residency with 2 very talented Progressive House DJ's ( Jack Triumph and DJ Illiaster) called "Progression" at 26Mix (http://www.26mix.com) located in San Francisco. We do a party every 3rd Fridays and feature a rotating guest at each event, Scott Carrelli will be playing with us this June and our resident. Jack Triumph will be heading up to Phoenix in June as well to possibly startup a Progression weekly there. Who knows what future residencies are on the horizon!

Do you currently have any albums out?

Nothing official yet but you'll hear I have a lot of stuff I've handed out to friends and promoters. I'm currently working on my first album of original material, and I'm starting to take to remixes as well.

Are you in the studio now, do we have anything to look forward to in the near future, maybe some collaboration with someone else?

I'm currently working on a bunch of original tracks. I'm also working on renovating some classic tracks hoping to bring new life to an old sound which is very exciting. Expect to hear some great tracks in the near future ;).

What do you think about all this mainstream dance music on the radio these days? Do you think it is good for the scene or are you 100% against it selling out?

You can't fault the masses for liking and embracing popular tracks. Some tracks are engineered to be big tunes; some get the right exposure for instance the Dirty Vegas track Days go by. Techno being played on the radio has happened ever since I can remember. The really novelty stuff back in 91 to 93, Moby's track Go, or The Smart e's - Sesame Street as well as a handful of others received a ton of radio play. I think these tracks do well to a certain point when breaking through as they tend to introduce something different and fresh for a listener who normally doesn't listen to dance music in general. On the other hand, radio play tends to be a quick death to any track that reaches such great heights.

I think for any mainstream tune that has had a ton of airplay can be dusted off, played, and relived for a moment after so many years, they are great bridges for bringing people together, so I do think mainstream tunes have their place.

What type of music do you listen to when you are not spinning?

Currently I'm listening to a lot of my old new wave / synth pop / alternative stuff and really enjoying it! Stuff like Book of Love, OMD, Front 242, Anything Box, etc. I've also been spending a lot of time exploring new styles of music, most of which is obscure independent stuff. And of course every now and then I'll tune in radio station for background noise.

Have you ever worked on a Movie Soundtrack?

I would love to do something for a Movie or even a video game÷÷ perhaps in the near future!

What are your thoughts on the scene right now locally?

In one word, transition. Everything is cyclical so Quantity is out, and Quality is in. Dance music will never fade out completely, sounds and styles will continue to change as well as the support for it. I think the scene is re-adjusting right now, discovering new ground and building a network of support that is more core to the values of where it originated, which is within the music itself.

Do any favorite moments in your career come to mind?

My favorite moments are the most challenging ones! Showing up to events that have the worst setup you can imagine are a great example. There is really nothing like working your ass off to make something wonderful happen. It's so rewarding to walk away from those moments where you just can't believe you pulled it off!

In the many places you have performed, which venue is your most favorite?

Each venue deserves its own place in my heart; it's hard for me to choose one that stands out as one of my favorites. It really depends on my mood and direction at times. Currently I really enjoy the smaller more intimate clubs. The people tend to be there for all the right reasons and are very supportive and really into the music. The larger venues were great back when the majority of the party goers had the music in mind. Nowadays it's really a hit or miss with big venues. I get taken back when there's a swarm of people hovering over the DJ expecting a magic trick or the fans are so star struck they just stand there staring at the DJ rather than dancing on the floor contributing to the energy of the party.

How has your creativity changed over the last 13 years? Do you tend to stay with your own styles/ideas or do you allow the mainstream to influence you and your work?

In the early 90s I started spinning all the New Wave and European dance stuff. Over the years though my sound and style slowly progressed to follow where dance music was going. I transitioned from early new wave, to industrial, acid house, and onto all the rave anthems of the times. When I was living in Florida from 92 to 95 I really got into the whole American break beat phenomenon that was happening then. Just as DJ Icey was introducing the infamous Icey sound, you had others who were at the time really pushing the break beat sound, Rabbit in the Moon, Bassbin Twins, Huda Hudia, Jim Hopkins, and later on Uberzone. However breaks weren't the only style of music I enjoyed spinning, other influences and styles I embraced included house and club anthems aka "hands in the air" tracks that were being hammered by DJ Sasha, Kimball Collins, Andy Hughes, and Chris Fortier. Being in Florida during this period was a real treat and a major influence on me, I remember having Chris Fortier pull records for me almost every week when he was working at shop in Orlando called Underground Record Source. Now, I follow my own path and it's very easy for me to pull big tracks if that's something I'm looking to go for. My comfort and skill level though is at a point where I have no reservations to incorporate any style of music into my set if I can get the track to work with a feeling I'm looking to convey.

What is your current Goal as a DJ?

I want to Explode! At the moment nothing would get me off more than to continue to step behind systems that can handle me and my sound÷ hahaha. Sound is such an important aspect to any event and out of fear of being busted, blowing something, or sounding like shit, sound levels are constantly monitored and moderated for such reasons, sometimes very poorly. I just want to continue to get behind the decks on systems that are capable of pushing it to level I need them to be in÷.. get lost in music, and shut everything else around me÷.. only then can you "feel it".

Where do you see yourself in the next 10 years?

In the next 10 years I would like to have a couple of albums published with all original material. I would also like to startup my own label featuring DJs and artists that represent the sound I enjoy

What would you be doing right now if you never bought that 1st record and became a DJ?

I can't imagine myself not being where I am today as a DJ, although I think if I didn't pickup djing I would be either producing tracks or playing in a band exclusively.

Last question... What, in your opinion, is the greatest aspect of being a DJ?

I could simply say that spinning music is pretty fucking amazing and fun, however what I do is beyond something that is just that simple to say. I'm sure a lot of DJ's out there have so many ideas of what it really is to be a DJ or a performer, what it means to them when their playing their particular sound, style, or even original material to a broad audience.

For me, I DJ to express the passion and excitement I feel in music, what it represents, and how it makes me feel when it resonates out. It's an amazing thing to have a medium that communicates it so well.

The music I play, and the way I play it represents so much of me and my life. At each event the experience of every moment and the way we live it is what life is all about. Some people believe that they can't change the world. I believe you can, one ear at a time.


- interview by Annalee Stone


 

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