armand, a-trak, stretch and dj am
i first heard of dj am when i noticed a set of his on mike b’s blog a few years back. the blog post said something about how he had this bad rep, but that he killed it, week in, week out. i listened to the set with open ears, and to be honest i can still remember where i was when i heard certain sections of the mix. a lot of it was kitchen sink stuff, with banger after banger hitting my ears, but there were some absolute moments of genius – slowing down m.i.a.’s xr2 turbo to introduce the rocky theme, matching sections of let’s dance to the drummer’s beat with the rapture’s wayuh, and what really got me was the way played ying yang and pitbull’s shake over digitalism’s zdarlight. i hadn’t yet heard ayres’ blend of this track, so to hear those verses over that kind of beat blew my mind. a while later i mentioned this to my friends and they were talking about him as the guy from crazytown, who dated nicole richie. i don’t care who you date to be honest, if you have those kind of skills, you’re good in my book. it seems to me that european djs get to play to crowds who come to hear dance music, but u.s. djs, like am, have to go flit between everything – top 40, rap, club, everything – and because of that, us europeans seem to mock them, which i think is ridiculous. trying to keep a dancefloor happy playing simple 4/4 all night doesn’t take that much. fitting everything in, and keeping a much more diverse crowd happy? that’s skill. so because of my own viewpoint, when i interviewed a-trak last year i decided to get his opinion on dude. it didn’t make the interview, but this is what he said.
AM is a good DJ and what’s cool with AM for me, I’m from the scratch world originally, and when I started getting more club gigs I had to tone down on the scratch stuff, cause these crowds they go out and want to dance and buy a bottle or whatever they don’t really want to hear scratching. AM does these shows, again for this upscale crowd, and does blends, and plays cool records that we also like and scratches the whole night, and he does it well, so he still gets the bookings, and as a consequence of that these audiences get accustomed to hearing that, and that’s cool cause it opens doors for me.
last year he was in that tragic plane crash, and was lucky to be alive. the outpouring of sympathy from the american dj community really showed how treasured and respected he really was, both as a dj and as a person. but he pulled through, and i remember seeing a picture of him behind the decks, shaking hands with jay-z. how good must life have felt at that moment. just last week i saw him tweet about throwing a pitch at a mets game: “Off to Citi FIELD to throw out the 1st pitch at the Mets game! Ho-lee shiz I’m nervous. How the F does a DJ get this honor? Thank you G0D!”. so i was deeply shocked this morning when the first text i got “Wow dj am has been found dead.” even just looking at my twitter feed from the last eight hours, it’s clear that everyone’s in shock, and that he will be seriously missed. on one level i’m mad i never got to see him play, but on another i know that i’m lucky enough even to have heard what he did through some crappy headphones thousands of miles away. rip dj am.
ps. i can’t find the mix i’m talking about, but if you go to mike b’s blog he still has a couple of hours of am going against himself and jfk from mstrkrft from banana split’s second birthday party last year. also, check out the mad decent tribute.