Who knew that breaking the honor code in Japan would help make you a better DJ.
With roots in Miami and wings that have taken him all over the world, DJ A-Train is a musical force to be reckoned with. We recently caught up with the Artist Related DJ to discuss how he balances his globetrotting lifestyle with partying all over the city.
So you spent a large chunk of your youth living in Tokyo. How did learning about nightclub culture in Japan help to fuel your desire to be a DJ?
Well I was lucky enough to experience nightclub culture at a very young age, being in Japan where the age laws were based more on the honor system - which I clearly didn't honor. I would go clubbing until 5 a.m. It was mostly commercial dance music, but I was 15, it was awesome! DJ culture was very prevalent at the time; they even had DJ’s at arcades. I was also put onto record collecting while in Tokyo before the days of Serato and laptop DJs. Tokyo is known for their record stores full of classics. That's where I spent most of my money.
From Japan to Thailand to Germany, you have experienced and performed at nightclubs all over. How does Miami compare to other musical hotspots?
Most hotspots have a pretty diverse international crowd, but I think Miami tops them all. We've got people from everywhere. I personally like the heavy Latin and Caribbean influence we've got going on here - that’s my style. Plus we really know how to go all out in Miami. It's always over the top here. We do it big in every aspect, but especially in the nightclub/music scene.
What makes your style versatile enough to bounce around from fashion shows to clubs and other types of dance parties around the world?
I don't limit my selection to any number of genres. I like it all. It's easy to play all the hits. It's the hip, artsy crowds that want something different or trendy. I think musical selection is more important than technical skills. I try to stay on top of both. There's just so much great music out there from all over the world, I couldn't imagine deejaying the same songs every night.
Your local roster includes residencies at Gansevoort, Vagabond, and The Mondrian. How do you cater to each audience?
You've just got to feel it out. Look up to see the crowd reaction after each song you play. Everyone wants something different. There's so much new music coming out these days with all the professional home studios in action. I'm still finding out about new songs and old classics every day.
How did formally studying music business in Miami assist you in your career?
I picked up a bunch of skills to help market and promote myself. It was mostly regarding music production though. That's something I plan to work on in the near future. Right now I'm just focusing on rocking Miami and doing some more travel abroad.
You are notorious for playing rare but awesome blends of house, hip-hop, rock, funk and soul songs - how do you find them?
[Laughs] There's no single source to find the goods, you’ve got to dig! I am fortunate to have good friends with great musical taste - we share a bit. Otherwise, you’ve just got to dig - educate yourself daily. Allmusic.com is a good place to start.
Are there any important events you are currently promoting? Where and on what days can people in Miami come see you?
Some top local DJs and I just re-launched a rare-groove kind of night called Champion Sound Wednesdays at Electric Pickle on 29th and North Miami Avenue. It's Funk, Soul, Classic Hip-hop, Reggae - all kinds of styles. I also throw down at Vagabond every Thursday and Saturday, both are amazing parties if you've never been.
Catch DJ ATrain this Thursday, June 17 at Vagabond, 30 Northeast 14th Street, Miami; (305) 379-0508. Visit his webpage at www.artistrelated.com/djatrain.
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