This week's Friday DJ Q&A is with Jamie Jams, a dude who loves his '90s icons, from Nirvana to the Pixies and R.E.M. What with Sub Pop turning 20, and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" showing up on DJ playlists again, there's a big old flannel flashback going down. Crystal Akins interviews Jamie, who rock 'n' rolls all night and fights the power every day.
Name: Jamie Jams
Style of music you spin: I used to play everything. Now I play strictly American underground indie rock.
Where are you from originally? Connecticut by way of Washington, DC; Copenhagen and London. I have to say though, I've gone totally native. After seven years here I don't even think I can handle living anywhere else.
Are you a Pixies fan? How did you feel when they reunited? Ha. Its cool. I'm glad those guys are getting paid. I read this great quote from Thurston Moore the other day about how the worst thing Sonic Youth ever did was never break up, now that J. Mascis and Kim Deal are probably riding around in limos drinking courvoisier.
Worst DJ experience? I've had a few times when we were first getting this nineties thing off the ground and people would literally be like, "What the f__ are you doing?" when I would try and bust some of these jams. I guess you have to mentally prepare people to hear Hole when they are expecting Justice.
What’s your day job? I'm an organizer. I fight the power all day and all night. I used to organize WTO protests for Global Exchange. Now I rep Fair Trade for a group called TransFair USA that does the Fair Trade Certified label. Buy Fair Trade coffee kids, it helps the farmers.
True or false: the sound of children’s laughter annoys you: No, I love it! People should laugh more. Its all about being real for me, and what's more real than children laughing!
What inspired you to start DJing? Actually, I came to it a little bit through my work. I was really nervous about getting up in front of a crowd and had no idea how to organize an event, which is a big part of my job. I figured I'd get my feet wet planning parties with my friends. Then I got kinda hooked on the audience reaction part of it. Its just a cool thing to be able to create a special moment for folks where it's all happening right then and there. That and I've had so many special moments out there getting down to other people's music. I made out on the dance floor once or twice at Fan Club back in the day and I thought it would be rad to do that for someone else. I'm giving back to the community.
Who is your idol? I am all about Barack Obama. Just a black man doing his thing in the world.
Where did you come up with the name Debaser? Well, it's a Pixies song and we love the Pixies. But for those of you who don't know, it was also the inspiration for "Smells Like Teen Spirit." We wanted to make the point that we were focusing on the musical period that culminated in Nirvana, not the wave of corporate crap that came after. Nirvana was really the end of a movement, not so much the beginning. The beginning was probably R.E.M. but who goes to an R.E.M. theme party?
Name of a track you can’t get out of your head: The one that kind of got us started on this was "Drain You" by Nirvana. We were all sitting there going, "God, I forgot how good this was!"
Dream DJ partner: I'd like to open for some proper indie bands. Maybe at the Independent? Or the Bottom of the Hill? Call me!
Favorite DJ experience: We played Smashing Pumpkins' "Today" for the last song at Debaser the other night and like seventy people came running and seriously jumped up and down with both feet and screamed every word. It was transcendant.
Worst request: "Can you play some hip hop?" I love hip hop, but I was like "Seriously, you can dance to hip hop any night of the week, in any club on any street in the United States of America. This is your one chance to dance to Hole."
Most clichéd DJ track right now: I don't even know anymore. I spend all my time trying to think of songs no one ever thought you could dance to. Incidentally, everyone should go to Worst Music Ever at the Knockout. They will make you love everything you thought you hated, and you will feel like one giant living cliche.
Most treasured vinyl score: They just keep coming! My favorites are kind of the most horrible. I just brought Collective Soul, "Shine" on 12" home from Connecticut. My roommate was like "Oh my god, I can't believe you are doing this!" and I was like, "Yeah, but who has this record on 12 inch?" It's ridiculous.
Musical mantra: Breaking hearts and blowing minds. Or, always kick them in the balls.
Question we didn’t ask you but you often ask yourself: When is everyone going to realize this nineties business is the sh*t!
Next time we can see you spin: With my friend Micah's Cranberries cover band at the next Debaser, first Saturday in August at the Knockout!