Next Up, “The Underdog”, DJ Pizzo
I started right out of high school. The reason I started was because back then, the only way to get all of those cool b-side tracks and remixes was on vinyl. So I got a pair of Gemini turntables and began doing the Word Up Show with Warren Peace on KUNV.
Where are you from?
Rochester, New York.
Where did your name come from?
Pizzo is my last name.
How did your record collection start? Do you remember the first record you bought?
The first record I bought for my record collection was Digital Underground “Underwater Rhymes”. I wanted this so bad because the b-side was “Your Life’s A Cartoon”, which was not on the “Sex Packets” LP. This was long before I had a set of turntables or before I thought about DJing. Once I started to do radio, I was getting promos, plus buying records every week.
What was your first DJ gig and when? Were there any memorable moments that night good or bad?
Ok, this is a pretty awesome story. So, I was about 19 years old. Somehow I got contacted to do some Gorman girl’s 16th birthday party. I had never done a party before. So I basically took my turntables, mixer, and whole home stereo and speaker system to this rich girl’s house. I was with current N9ne Group art director Sean Clarity and some other friends. We thought we were so cool because we were “older” and walked in there like we were big shit.
So of course, the selection of records I brought with me to DJ this girl’s sweet sixteen consisted of The Boot Camp Clik, Wu-Tang Clan, Public Enemy, etc.
So I’m spinning and people are just standing around. I drop in Nas “If I Ruled The World” (feat. Lauryn Hill) and everyone starts dancing. So then I’m like, “OK, they like Nas”. I follow up with Nas “The World Is Yours”. Surely they will appreciate this Pete Rock produced banger. These girls look at me and say “what is this!?!?” and I reply, “It’s Nas! You were just dancing to Nas!” Wordplay and everything and they stopped dancing. What the hell?
So it occurs to me that they want commercial hits. So, I pull out these two double vinyl compilation records I have - one is “Old School Classics”, the other is “West Coast Classics”. They have pictures of candy painted lowriders or Suzuki Samurai’s on the cover. I start playing records from these two albums and the house explodes. The tracks they really lose it to are “Me So Horny” and “Brass Monkey”. So I look at Sean, in the middle of the party, and say, “Dude, go to Odyssey Records right now and get me all the booty bass records they have! Booty bass, booty bass, booty bass!”. So he comes back in 30 minutes with a stack of vinyl - all with huge asses on the covers - and it was 69 Boyz, Ghost Town DJ’s, and Tootsie Roll the rest of the night and they loved it. And then my stereo receiver blew. The end.
Since 1996, when I started to do the Word Up Show with Warren Peace.
What would you love to play that you’re not known for?
I pretty much find a way to play the records I like in some form or another, whether it’s main room, after hours, radio, or on a mixtape.
You had a record store for years with fellow Vegas DJ Warren Peace how and when did you start that?
We started HHS in 1996 on the web at www.hiphopsite.com. It was a mail order service for DJ’s and hip-hop music fans. We did it out my parents house and once it grew too big for that, we just decided to open up shop.
Are you getting into production as many DJs are now?
I have about ten ideas in my head that I am ready to put “on wax”. I have a couple of people that are ready to collaborate with me and help make those things happen.
What do you think is your best asset as a DJ?
Staying ahead of the game in musical trends, reading a crowd, and keeping the energy level high the whole night.
How would you describe your style?
Who are some of your favorite DJs that you’d like to turn people onto?
I wouldn’t say that I have any inside info on who’s the next up and comer, but as far as established acts, I really dig Fedde Le Grand and A-Trak. Fedde really knows how to control a room without playing commercial, while A-Trak is lending his turntable skills to EDM. Hearing him cut over a big house build up is pretty unique and original.
What would you say DJs now lack?
Hmm, let me think. Today’s DJ’s lack costumes, masks, IMDB profile pages, celebrity relatives, pre-mixes, reality shows, modeling spreads, split embryos, backflips, and fake ID’s. We definitely need more of that in the game.
Obviously the fact that I don’t have to drag 5 crates of records to the club anymore and can have any song on deck when it’s needed. And my needles don’t skip.
What do you dislike?
Anyone can become a DJ now, which is disrespectful to actual DJ’s. It’s gotten really bad.
Whats a couple of your new favorite artists/songs in the genre(s) your known for and especially genre(s) that you aren’t know for but really dig?
Let’s see - in house music, I really dig Autoerotique, Peace Treaty, Swanky Tunez, Congorock.
In hip-hop, some of the new artists I am digging include Big K.R.I.T., Kendrick Lamar, Jon Connor, Action Bronson.
Outside of that, I dig a lot of down-tempo, beat-driven instrumentalist stuff like Ninja Tune’s Blockhead, who I just completed a mix for called “The Robin Byrd Mixtape”.
If you weren’t DJing what would you be doing?
I’d probably be involved somewhere else in the music or entertainment industry.
What is your hobby or interest when you’re not producing/DJing that people don’t know about?
I’m a huge gamer. On some super nerdy shit too. I won’t go into detail, but I have a steering wheel racing cockpit in my home.
How do you deal with requests?
I’m good about them. I like a challenge, so when people request something, I try to find a way to work it in. I usually have a version of any song that will fit my particular style.
How do you feel about the current EDM (Electronic Dance Music) takeover in nightlife?
I think it’s good because it opens up the larger rooms to new music that doesn’t get the attention it deserves. We used to be in an era of Top 40/hip-hop that didn’t really allow you the deviate too far from whatever the hits are. Now, in a big room setting, people are more open minded to the groove itself, not necessarily the particular track you are playing. However, it’s also bad because it allows a lot of horrible DJ’s the chance to get on.
Do you have any desire to be a big room DJ? Why or Why not?
Having headlined XS over 100 times, I consider myself one.
Ok, one of my worst, strangest gigs ever was early in my career. I was in college at UNLV, and I was scheduled to do some event on the soccer field.
Now let me back up just a little bit before we get into the story. Right around that time, Warren and I were doing the Word Up Show together. There was a local rapper named B-Sick who wanted Warren to play his demo. Warren didn’t play it, so the kid got the UNLV newspaper involved, accusing KUNV of not supporting local music. A side note, this guy was a blind rapper, and his album cover had a drawing of him holding two seeing-eye-bitches (women in bikinis on leashes). Warren’s reason for not playing the record was because it sucked.
So, I get to the soccer field that day. The event is held at the top of the field. I wheel all my shit over there, and they are like “oh man, there’s not a power outlet out here, you’ll have to plug in over there,” and the dude points to halfway across the field. So, I set up on the other side of the field, and I’m trying to spin for this event, but the sound setup is wack, so nobody can hear me on the opposite end of the field. My records start warping in the sun as I am playing them, and then fucking B-Sick shows up wanting to freestyle over my set. I let him rap, and he’s asking me if the crowd is into it because he can’t fucking see, and I’m like “yeah man”, with him not realizing that he and I performing for nobody. In the sun. And my records are warped. Worst gig.
Best moment djing?
I’ve had a lot of great moments DJing - I’m not sure I can pick a “best” one. The last time I played at XS was great. I was closing for Steve Aoki and he gave me this glowing introduction. He was just like “we’re going to keep this party going. this dude right here is local, he’s the shit, and he’s always playing new music,” and then I tore the roof off the mothersucker.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far?
I’m really proud of playing an integral role in the creation of the XS music format. It’s something that we are not really given credit for, but Warren, Dave, and myself really pushed house music at XS in the early days. While we didn’t go 100% house all night like they are doing now, back then I definitely played a lot of Afrojack, Chuckie, SHM, Avicii, Calvin Harris, Kaskade records long before it was cool to do so.
Whats your favorite city/cities to play in?
Love playing in Los Angeles. The crowd out there is really young and cool, and there are no dildo hat wearing bachelorette parties.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I’m 35 years old. I’ve got a young face, so people usually peg me for 25. I guess that’s cool.
Whats your poison? (drink of choice in the booth)
Vodka, tequila, burbon.
Hopefully doing the same thing I am doing now, for but five times the price ;)
Upcoming events/spot dates:
Supperclub Los Angeles “Blog So Hard” CD Release Party in May (TBA)