CVIndependent

Tue09172019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Representatives of many of the Coachella Valley's top businesses, groups and organizations gathered on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at Copa Nightclub for the Best of Coachella Valley 2016-2017 Party.

The revelry was the culmination of a process that started back in August, when first-round voting in the third annual Coachella Valley Independent readers' poll began. The top three to five vote-getters in each category then moved on to a second round of voting, which took place through October. The results were announced at CVIndependent.com on Nov. 28 and in the December edition of the Independent

Held at Copa, the Best Nightclub winner, the party was hosted by Independent editor/publisher Jimmy Boegle. After the awards, Best Local Band winner Venus and the Traps treated the audience to a set.

Below are pictures from the evening, by Independent contributor Cory Courtney. Enjoy!

Published in Snapshot

Various local DJs and EDM artists have come and gone in recent years—and all the while, DJ Day has continuously been turning in fantastic performances both locally and around the world.

Palm Springs native DJ Day—aka Damien Beebe—is the winner of the first Best of Coachella Valley Legacy Award.

During an interview in 2013, Beebe said that he grew up as a latchkey kid in Palm Springs, raised by a single mother. He learned how to DJ on a one-piece turntable from Kmart he got for Christmas one year. Locals who have watched DJ Day for years will tell you they remember that one-piece turntable setup, which he rigged so he could scratch while a boombox played a cassette in the background.

During a recent interview, Beebe explained what made him want to become a DJ.

“Going back to like 1988 or 1989, hearing people like DJ Jazzy Jeff was a major influence on me,” Beebe said. “There was an album put out by the Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff called He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper, and it was a double album, and one whole side was dedicated to just the DJ. Before that, hearing the scratching on Herbie Hancock’s ‘Rockit’—that was definitely the first time I really went, ‘Holy shit, what is that sound?’ It was totally foreign and unique. Hearing that made me get infatuated with the sound of scratching. From there, I tried to get anything I could with scratching in it so I could learn.”

Beebe said that one-piece turntable became the tool he used to learn all of his scratching techniques.

“I would come home from school and just listen and try to come as close as I could, trying to emulate,” he said. “I would scratch old Charlie Brown records or anything that I had, like my mom’s old records—any kind of phrase or any sound I could use. I would hold the tape and the phono button down like an on/off switch or a fader. It was all by ear.”

There was not much of a hip-hop scene in Palm Springs while Beebe was growing up, but he still managed to find local influences.

“There was Club Z, which was this crazy 18-and-over club,” he said. “They did have some dope DJs in there. There were people I have to give props to—people like Fonzo and Ellis—and there were different DJs out here who influenced me, for sure.”

Beebe talked about his first major public failure—and what he learned from it.

“This is the thing that separates my era from today’s era: Back then, a lot of DJs would be at house parties. There was a guy named Renee who was a really dope DJ. The Filipino community out here also had a lot of good ones, too. I remember after a year or two of using my ghetto fucking turntable and tapedeck in my room, I never learned how to work turntables and a mixer. I went to a house party, because I felt confident enough, and I got up on the turntables—and it was like putting a monkey in a spaceship. I didn’t know what I was doing with the fader or anything like that. I completely fell apart, and it was totally terrible. I got booed in front of a fucking house party full of people outside. I still remember the moment, and someone came and pulled me off the turntables.

“I went to my friend’s house that night; (the friend had been at the party), too, and I remember seriously vowing I would come back and show everybody what the fuck is up. It’s those moments when you either fold and give up, or it makes you push harder and stronger by walking through that kind of fire.

“Now, with digital DJing, someone can just buy some shit and become a DJ overnight. Those kinds of lessons and trials to improve are lost.”

Beebe explained how he came across one instrument he often plays on his records.

“In 1999, there was a guy out here selling a Fender Rhodes piano for like $25, and now they go for way more than that,” he said. “One of the keys was broken, and it was a heavy antiquated electric keyboard. It was the sound that was in all of the records I had growing up, including Bob James’ ‘Take Me to the Mardi Gras,’ which is the basis of ‘Peter Piper’ by Run-DMC. I was excited to get that and just toyed around with it, learning by ear. I’ve gotten more serious with it during the last year, trying to actually learn it better.

“My dad played and learned by ear, so maybe there’s some kind of weird genetic shit going on. I just like to be student of all and master of none in terms of music.”

As a touring DJ, Beebe has seen it all. He talked about one time he was on tour with People Under the Stairs.

“I went on tour with them as a support act and to open the shows,” Beebe said. “The first show we did was in Santa Barbara—and someone stole my laptop off the stage the first night. They posed as photographers, got onstage and took anything they could grab, and my laptop bag ended up being one of those things. First night of the tour! Luckily, I had brought a bag of records with me—and that’s one of the benefits of having that foundation.

“I ended up getting it back. I tracked the guy who stole it down, and he was all apologetic and shit. Life is fucking weird!”

DJ Day has traveled around the world, to places as far-flung as Russia, Brazil, Israel, China and Japan. He admits there are times when he finds himself at a loss for words.

“The first time I went to Russia, I went completely alone—no tour manager or anyone else,” he said. “I get to the gig, and the first meal I have in Russia is a chicken quesadilla. That set the tone of weird shit out of the gate. The gig is in this old bomb shelter, and it’s a nightclub. It’s all funk and soul, and all vinyl that this one other guy is doing. The crowd is singing this fucking obscure soul song. The entire room erupted singing this song called ‘Blind Alley’ by the Emotions, which is not even a song American people know. It was so weird to be in Russia, in a bomb shelter, and hearing people sing an obscure soul song. That was really cool to see.”

Published in Features

After six years at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, DJ Day has decided it’s time for his popular weekly ¡Reunion! party to come to an end.

He recently announced that the sixth-anniversary edition of ¡Reunion! on Thursday, March 31, will be the final show.

“Honestly, after six years every week, which is something like 320 nights, it begins to take its toll,” DJ Day said during a recent interview in Palm Springs. “Long story short, I just got burnt out on the whole nightlife thing. It’s run its course, and I’d like to start doing something else. I want to get back into recording music, and I’m ready to move on as a person and just take a different path in my life. It’s been great, but it’s also a very trying thing.

“When I first started out, I talked to someone who had a weekly in Portland, and she said, ‘It’s not easy. You’re going to have stretches of good times and stretches of bad times.’ It’s been up and down lately, but it’s on an upswing right now, so I figured it was time for me to leave on a good note.”

For the past few months, DJ Day’s good friend and regular guest at ¡Reunion!, Aimlo, has not been present.

“(Aimlo) is moving away and hasn’t been coming since the end of last year. For the past three months, he’s been doing his own thing and gearing up for the move,” DJ Day said.

DJ Day, whose birth name is Damien Beebe, said the decision was completely his own, and that Ace Hotel management was surprised to learn about his decision, yet was supportive and understanding. He said he will continue his last-Saturday-of-the-month Highlife party at the Ace.

“The Ace Hotel didn’t even see this coming. I’ve been kicking around the idea for a year, and in my gut, something told me it was time to move on and do something different,” he said.

DJ Day said one of the things he enjoyed the most about ¡Reunion! was the vibe that could often be felt in the room—something I experienced myself many times.

“Trying to Rolodex through six years’ worth of shit is insane. There have been some crazy times, from people dancing on tables to trying to put money in my underwear,” he said. “The best times were (when the crowd was) willing to take a chance and trust me musically, and it creates this reciprocal feeling in the room where everyone is on the same vibe together. It’s a church-like vibe, and everyone has the same spirit going through them. It’s the best feeling I can get through music and playing other people’s music.”

¡Reunion! has featured many amazing guests. The first ¡Reunion! I attended was in 2013 during Coachella, when Flying Lotus showed up and performed a surprise set in the Amigo Room.

“There have been times when I didn’t even know who was in the room just hanging out,” DJ Day said. Lykke Li was in there chillin’ one night in a booth; Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine was there one night, and just other random people. You never knew who would be at the Ace.

“During the first two years, we’d have special guests once a month. Jeremy Sole (of KCRW radio) put together this flier, and I was trying to remember all of the people who came through, but it’s a pretty big list of folks. I just wanted it to be a place where people could come and hang out … and be comfortable. That’s why it’s ‘¡Reunion!’—it’s a place for people to come together. I wanted to create a good vibe, and I’m proud to say we never had any fights or dumb shit happen in six years.”

Along with Aimlo, the aforementioned Jeremy Sole was a regular guest at Reunion, and other local DJs such as Pawn, Pedro Le Bass, JF//Discord and Independent resident Alex Harrington often joined the party. There has always been a spirit of collaboration and openness.

“I’m very happy to be part of anyone else’s success, or give people a platform to do their art of playing their music when they never had (a platform) before,” DJ Day said. “I love being part of the community here and being part of the future of young people. For me to give a hand to anybody, it’s a great thing.”

Despite DJ Day’s busy touring schedule—including various international trips—he always came back home to play at ¡Reunion!

“I was on tour in Europe, and I remember coming back one night (and) getting off the plane at LAX,” DJ Day said. “I went home and showered, and went right to ¡Reunion!, because DJ Nu-Mark was playing that night. I wanted to go and just make sure everything was cool. My wife was like, ‘What the fuck you doing?’ And I was like, ‘Hey, I gotta be there.’

“What has taken its toll, in an emotional sense, is going overseas and playing for like 4,000 people in Tokyo, and coming back home to no love. It’d be like, ‘Where the fuck is everyone?’ I felt like people were starting to take this shit for granted, and it was like old reliable: ‘Oh, I’ll go next week,’ and next week becomes next month and on and on. Then you’re relying on the hotel guests, and that can fluctuate.”

DJ Day said ¡Reunion! has been a true learning experience, because he never knows what kind of crowd and vibe each Thursday night will bring.

“I have to be on my toes for whoever is there,” he said. “Some nights, it’s been straight party shit; other nights, I’m playing Portishead at fucking midnight. It just depends.”

DJ Day has talked about how much effort he put into his record Land of 1000 Chances, which was released in 2013. He said he’s a much different artist now than he was back then.

“Whatever music I choose to make now is coming from a totally different perspective, life-wise and internally, than where I was at that time,” he said. “That was a culmination of events that were going on behind the scenes both within myself and other areas of my life. That record addressed some of them, and I put my heart and soul into that record. I’ll still do that with the next one, but it’ll be from a different place. … I think I’ll be more of an optimist, and my taste has evolved and changed.”

What does DJ Day see himself doing on Thursday nights after the final ¡Reunion! show?

“Watching Better Call Saul on the DVR,” he joked. “No, actually, I don’t know. It’s going to be weird, and it’s going to be an adjustment. I’d like to spend more time with my family. That’s what I really want.”

DJ Day said he’s not sure what the future will hold for Thursday nights at the Ace.

“I’ve been there since Day 1—I used to do sets by the pool, so I’ve actually been there seven years,” he said. “I offered to find a replacement for me, whether it was Aimlo or Pawn, to continue that night, given they know it, but they might go in a different direction and do something completely different.”

DJ Day said he feels very thankful as six years of ¡Reunion! come to a close.

“I couldn't have done this without my man Aimlo, who's been there from Day 1, and my Ace Hotel family who have been nothing short of awesome,” he said. “I also want to give a tremendous thanks to all of the artists who've played ¡Reunion! and everyone who's come out and supported us throughout the years. Much love to you all.”

The Reunion Six-Year-Anniversary Farewell will take place at 9 p.m., Thursday, March 31, at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs. Admission is free. For more information, call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings. Below: DJ Day with Alex Callego.

DJ Day, aka Damien Beebe, may be the hardest-working DJ in Palm Springs.

He’s collaborated with the hip-hop group People Under the Stairs. He’s put out his own records. He’s traveled around the world for live performances. And he hosts the ¡Reunion! show at the Ace Hotel every Thursday night. Because of all of these efforts and more, he’s managed to become a prominent name in the hip-hop community.

His recently released full-length album, Land of 1000 Chances, feels like a throwback to the hip-hop sound during its coming-of-age in the late ’70s and ’80s in New York City. You can feel the inspiration from Funkmaster Flex in his music, melded with modern influences, jazz and funk instrumentals, and vocalists singing soul and classic R&B. It’s a blend of the old-school with some unique modern underground.

The story of Damien Beebe before he became DJ Day starts in Palm Springs.

“I was a latchkey kid, raised by a single mother, and living in an apartment in Palm Springs,” he said. “I got one of those Kmart one-piece turntables with a tape deck. I would teach myself to how to scratch and DJ with that and a little boom box playing in the background. It progressed outside of my house into house parties and going out of town to perform. I just kept going and going.”

Eventually, he crossed paths with Thes One from People Under the Stairs, who has family in Indio.

“We just hit it off; we had a lot of similarities. He asked me to do a remix for the group, and I ended up doing a few remixes for them,” he said.

They eventually decided together to jump ship from the record labels they were on at the time and form their own collective based label, Piecelock 70. “It’s not a record label, per se, but it’s more like an artist collective where we pool our resources to help each other out and get art out around the world,” he said.

As an example of the unique projects that Piecelock 70 has put out beyond music, he tells me about a book called The Mop, by Alan Simpson, based on stories Simpson created after working in a porno shop in Australia during the ’90s.

Aside from his work with People Under the Stairs, and the labor-intensive process of getting Piecelock 70 off the ground, Beebe’s DJing career keeps him busy and traveling all over the world. He’s performed in 16 different countries and has a corporate client list that includes big names like DC Shoes, Adidas, Ray-Ban, Levi’s, and the Palm Springs International Film Festival. His resume of remixes includes work from Quantic, Alice Russell, Aloe Blacc, Exile, and Clutchy Hopkins, to name a few artists. He was even hired to DJ for Justin Timberlake’s Shriners Open Golf Tournament in Las Vegas.

He said he stays true to himself through his music, which is a big part of his Thursday night event at the Ace Hotel.

“We play a mix of everything. It’s what I consider a musically open format,” he said of ¡Reunion!. “There’s everything from current music and underground stuff—classic hip-hop, soul, disco, funk, dancehall and reggae. There’s a little bit of everything.”

If there’s one thing DJ Day wants people to know about ¡Reunion!, it’s that everyone is welcome.

“The biggest thing I think about ¡Reunion! is that we try to be all-inclusive,” he said. “… We just try to provide a good time and a comfortable environment—where you can sit in the booth, have a drink and enjoy the vibe.

“… I want it to be like the show Cheers, where everyone knows your name. That the kind of vibe I want it to have”

DJ Day hosts ¡Reunion! at 10 p.m., every Thursday night, at the Ace Hotel’s Amigo Room. 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; admission to the 21-and-older event is free. Call 760-325-9900, or visit www.acehotel.com/palmsprings for more information.