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DJ of the Week – Lustache

DJ Lustache

Every week (or so…) we introduce you to a local LGBTQ party DJ and ask them about their experiences in the scene and feature an audio mix they’ve made. If you’re interested in being featured contact alley@qpdx.com.

Zak Stevens, aka DJ Lustache, is starting a brand spankin’ new night with co-organizer Geoff Watland (Jezebelle Justice) at Red Cap that basically is making all my dirty dreams come true. Have you ever heard me talk about how sad I am to have missed the 70s? Well Easy aims to bring 1972 Castro to the halls of the hip. The theme of their inaugural event this Saturday is moustache madness, and rides, I’m sure.

When and how did you get started DJing?
I did my first real party around a year and a half ago in Olympia, Washington. There was a queer youth resource center opening up and they needed some queer talent to work at their party. A friend of mine referred me (I’d pretty much just been fucking around at house parties at that point). I did some small parties here and there until I moved to Portland, where I began a year long residency at Blowpony (which I left in November)– that sort of shifted djing from an occasional hobby to a full-blown passion//part-time job.

How did you get your DJ name?
‘Lustache’ was sort of a terrible joke about some party monster alter-ego I have (which I means I can now never shave my moustache off, lest I fade into ambiguity and eventually die a death in obscurity). I also dj&do a little production as SPF 666 (which is also the product of a terrible joke). Apparently, my dj career has a consistent theme.

Who are you influences/inspirations?
Timbaland(circa 1996). Out of local talent: Dj Lifepartner & Beyondadoubt. Also, the presence&charisma of Ron Hardy (and a bunch of other great Chicago house djs). They just didn’t give a fuck. They’d stop the music to engage the crowd, play a track twice if people wanted to hear it badly, go out and dance to their own tracks, whatever. That element of performance is such a rare thing to see in the era of laptop djing. Stormy Roxx and Katey Pants (Dj roygbiv) are a few local folks who are exceptional when it comes to charming a crowd with their presence, for sure (I will never forget playing on fake paper saxophones with Katey during a remix of Enur’s ‘calabria’). People seem to respond pretty positively when I take off my clothes or start booty bounce battles during my sets; even just fucking with my controllers in a conspicuous manner, so folks know that I’m not just checking my grindr up there or whatever.

Why do you DJ?
Aside from having a decent excuse to take off my clothes at a dance party, I (like most djs) absolutely love the challenge of getting people to dance. The high of watching a floor explode to the movement of a track is indescribable. I really enjoy present tracks or genres that folks like in ways they may not be familiar with; not in a pretentious edifying sort of way, but in a manner that’s engaging and still prioritizes their experience&enjoyment above all else.

What parties/clubs do you currently DJ?
I’m debuting a brand new party called EASY with Jezabelle this week at Red Cap that I am unbelievably excited about; it has a slight 70s (disco&house) touch, wrapped up in a little bit of gritty sleaziness from “the golden age of queerness.” I’ve guested at a few nights around town, and have been recently experimenting with afterhours events (start staying up later, darlings). I play a future bass night in olympia, washington and do private parties here and there.

What genres of music do you like to play?

Zak and DJ Screw

Most of my sets consist of a house and pop sensibility, filtered through a mixture of future bass, [for lack of a better term] ‘global beats’ (reggaeton, baile funk and kuduro), booty stuff (juke, ghettotech, r&b, bmore&philly club, and new orleans bounce). I’ve been getting really into working with lots of vogue, disco, and early house in the past three or so months to prepare for EASY.

What are some of your current favorite tracks?
Dj MikeQ- Let it all out(Dj Sliink edit), Gotty Boi Chris- Azz in the Air (Schlachthofbronx remix), Robbie Tronco- Runway as a House, Aldonia- Ukku Bit (Ben Tactic edit), Kingdom- Let You No, Ghost Town Djs-My Boo (acapella).

What do you wish would stop being played out right now?
I don’t think I can really name a track or a genre that I would want to never hear again or anything (save songs with awful oppressive sexist//homophobic lyrics or stupidly aggressive hyper-masculine dubstep, I guess), I have more of a qualm with how some tracks and genres are being played. I really get excited when I see well-thought out transitions or some technical skill being applied to a track that I know (even if it’s as simple as sampling loops from another track or whatever) and wish I could hear that more. At the very least, I’d love to see more of an emphasis on rinsing tracks//sounds that people know in different ways– either by finding remixes&edits on soundcloud, or even better, introducing new artists who share a similar sound to popular genres (Maluca can hold her own against most top 40s divas, for example).

What was your WORST DJ experience?
NYE 2010. The speakers wound up blowing during sound check and I had technical trouble all night. It was one disaster after another for myself (and everyone else playing) and folks could tell. Luckily, the party we threw this NYE reversed the curse.

What was your BEST DJ experience?
Probably the first booty battle I threw downstairs at blowpony after Big Freedia’s appendix burst. It was crazy– the two teams fought it out for a few tracks before devolving into a wild, uncontrollable mob of jiggling ass. Also, playing Christeene’s beats for her live performance in SF is up there, too.

What makes a DJ experience good for you?
As predictable of a response as this is: my night is made when folks are clearly letting it all out. I love when people are piling on to one another, coming over and dancing with me, shedding clothing, etc. Also, none of my equipment breaking, I enjoy that.

What are your main pieces of equipment and your favorite?
I use Traktor 2 with three midi controllers (akai mpd32 & lpd8, as well as a m-audio x-session pro) and the former is definitely my favourite. It’s styled after the famous mpc drum machine/samplers, and I like to use it similarly: juggling hot cues, doing live drum beats, etc. Folks seem to really like seeing djs do that.

What else do you want qPDX to know about you?
That I would probably cry and eat a gallon of soy ice cream if you didn’t come to EASY’s debut on January 7th.

Also, I’d really love to work with as many folks within the pdx queer scene as possible– be it dance nights, making collaborative mixes, or just swapping tracks and tips (especially if people are interested in trying to put together afterhours events! …or throwing a party on a boat. I really, really want to dj on a boat.)

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