Introducing LA Weekly's DJ of the Week: This Week, Dennis Owens
We received many responses to our many best DJs lists. So many, in fact, that we haven't been able to get a good night's sleep ever since, what with all the awesome DJs that we weren't able to properly honor and call attention to. So we decided to fix it with giving you a DJ of the week every week, all the better to get to know the L.A. music scene with. Who is the DJ of the week?
The DJ of the week is Dennis Owens. A man of many talents, you can find him blowing up the dance floors at such famous residencies as the Space is the Place roller disco, and the soul/funk club the Good Foot; otherwise, he might be holding down the low end on bass for his band, Free Moral Agents. He sat down with us to explain how he finds himself in the lucky position of loving what he does, and doing what he loves:
How did you get started DJing?
I started deejaying on September 11th, 1998. That was the opening night of the Good Foot. I had been behind a pair of turntables and a mixer maybe once before, but I couldn't tell you when that was, so I'll consider that first night my first crack at it. It was a total trial-by-fire situation. People danced and I was stoked!
You're vinyl-only or vinyl-mostly, yes? What do you think of Serrato, DJing with Ipods, or DJing with computers? Do you feel like the audience can hear or sense the difference?
I'm vinyl only (for now), but by no means a vinyl purist. It doesn't matter what format you use, really. It's about communicating with your audience and setting a vibe. You can even do that with a pair of cassette players.
When is the last Good Foot, and more importantly, why did you decide not to continue?
Good Foot will still be happening every 2nd Friday of the month this year up to September. Then, on Friday, September 9th, the Good Foot will not only be hosting its 13-Year Anniversary party, but will be hosting it's final night as a monthly club. Rodi Delgadillo, my brother-from-another-mother and co-founder of the Good Foot, will be flying in from Osaka, Japan and it will just be the two of us deejaying that night, just like the very first Good Foot. I decided to retire the club because I'm ready to move on and I want to keep my enthusiam for it intact, so I set an end date. I will still continue to deejay at my other night, Space Is The Place Rollerdisco, which happens every 4th Saturday of the month at World On Wheels in L.A. Hi, Riley!
What's the rarest record you have?
One of the rarest records I own is a very obscure soul record by a group called Felony Theft. I'm actually putting it up for sale this week on eBay. Any buyers?
What is the most fun you ever had DJing and why?
A few years ago, DJ Nobody and I were flown out to Austin, Texas to deejay a show for the Mars Volta. We also deejayed the before- and after-parties for the show and, let me tell you, I had WAAAAY too much fun! The ratio of men to women at those parties was about 90% female/10% male. 'Nuff said. Besides that, I have the most fun when I'm in the zone at the Good Foot. When it gets to that point, I can only describe the feeling as spiritual.
What's the stupidest question that anyone has asked you while DJing?
One night, I was deejaying a bunch of '80's funk and new wave at the District Lounge in Orange. A girl approached me and asked me if I had any Lisa Loeb. When I politely told her that I didn't, she gave me this funny look. "You don't have any Lisa Loeb?! What kind of deejay doesn't have LISA LOEB in their crates?!" Then, she stormed off.
What song gets consistently the best reaction on the dance floor?
At the Good Foot, any version of "Tighten Up" will get things going. "You (Got What I Need)" by Freddie Scott usually gets people running to the dancefloor (the fact that it was sampled by Biz Markie for his biggest hit definitely helps!) "Funky 8 Corners" by Willie & The Mighty Magnificents is a great one. "Stoned Love" by the Supremes...the list goes on and on and on.
Why do you think some people get super judgmental on whether or not a DJ is using the original or reissued vinyl? Do you personally care about the difference?
As a collector, I get a certain thrill from finding an original of a 45 or LP that I love. As a deejay, I could care less about what format another deejay uses to get the job done. If they're doing their job and capturing the vibe properly, then it doesn't matter what format is being utilized. I think some vinyl purists hold judgement against people who use formats other than original vinyl pressings because they fear the power of the technology that they feel they're up against. It levels the playing field. A program like Serato allows a deejay easy access to almost any song they could ever want without having to pay a lot of money for an obscure original record. The idea of paying lots of money for the "right" to play a song is the antithesis of my philosophy about this whole deejaying thing. That sort of politics gets in the way of what matters the most, which is the music.
When you DJ, are you playing for yourself, the crowd, or both?
Both. I relish the dialog between the crowd and I.
What are your five favorite 45s, from any genre?
These aren't my 5 favorites - I have WAAAAAAAAAAY more than 5 favorite 45s. In fact, I'm going to list 10 45s that I love that I randomly pulled out of my collection:
-"Time Will Tell" b/w "Davey Crockett (Gabba-Hay!) - Thee Headcoats
-"Spoon" b/w "Shikako Maru Ten" - Can
-"She Prefers Whips" - Le Shok
-"Someone to Treat Me (The Way You Used To)" - The De Vons
-"Double Barrel" - Dave & Ansel Collins
-"United" - Throbbing Gristle
-"Survive" b/w "Babylonian Gorgon" - The Bags
-"Just Like Me" - Paul Revere and the Raiders
-"Surprise Hotel" - Fool's Gold
-"From The Love Side" - Hank Ballard & The Midnight Lighters
If you had an unlimited budget, which records would you buy?
I would hop on a plane and fly all over the world and buy up all of the very best records I could find from everywhere.
What's the coolest record you've ever scored for under $2?
The other day, a good friend of mine gave me her parents copy of "Poetry For The Beat Generation" by Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen on LP. I thought that was pretty freakin' cool! Thanks Marni! :-)
You can catch Dennis at Space is the Place Roller Disco, which happens every fourth Saturday of the Month at World on Wheels in Venice from 10:15 pm to 2 am. If skating isn't your thing (even though they have a disco ball and a wood floor!) there is a karaoke bar with dancing upstairs. 18+/$12 admission which includes skate rental.
Otherwise, he's at the Good Foot at the Que Sera in Long Beach every second Friday. 21+/$5