He just won the coveted Best DJ GLAM Award this past Sunday, and for good reason. Spinning parties and drag shows all over the city on nearly any given night, this gentle giant and bookworm is known for his hearty laugh, great rapport with his drag queens, and extraordinary professionalism. Get to know know the rest of DJ 2Face!
Thotyssey: Hi 2Face! Congratulations on winning the GLAM for best DJ the other night! Was that a surprise for you?
DJ 2Face: Well, I know that with these awards anything can happen. I know I had a great year–and a lot of people voted for me–but I was still surprised with the results. I was the newcomer in this category, in the fact that I have only been DJing in the NYC scene since 2014. I guess it just goes to show the impact that I have had on the city in that short amount of time.
I feel so blessed and honored to be voted the best among my peers. Something like that just makes you feel so good inside.
It was so well-deserved! You’re the go-to guy for drag shows and the dancefloor alike. Which do you prefer, by the way: DJing for the queens, or for the people?
That is such a toss-up. I love taking a crowd on a musical journey and feeding off there energy. I know that during my sets you might not like every song, but I know that overall you will enjoy the ride that I take you on. Seeing people dance and scream out lyrics to songs with huge smiles on their faces makes me so happy.
On the other hand, I love my queens. In my shows, you get to see more of my personality on the mic, and the way I interact with my girls. If you have been to one of my shows, you will always leave entertained–whether it be from the queens, or my infectious laughter. I work with some of the most talented queens in NYC, and I am so grateful that my professionalism with them keeps me in high demand.
The best of both worlds! Okay, let’s get to know All Things 2Face. Where’s your hometown?
I was born in Chicago, but I grew up most my life in Jacksonville, Florida where I consider home.
What were you like growing up? Were you always a musical kid?
I was mostly a bookworm. I was popular at school and had friends, but was never one to have a lot of people at my house. I have always enjoyed my alone time. I’ve always classified myself as an “extrovert introvert.”
I have always enjoyed music, but I never thought I would become a DJ. I did play the baritone and tuba in middle school, which was fun.
Most of my life was spent playing sports, especially football, so that was more of my focus. I stopped the band when I went to high school. The funny thing is, I never really learned how to read music–I learned more by ear. I guess that’s why I have such a good ear for music when I’m DJing.
When did you actually start DJing?
In 2008, when I came home from college. I started DJing by coincidence. My cousin Reggie started promoting at a bar called Sharky’s, where he made me head of security. One night the DJ was late, and I pumped up the crowd until he got there with some CDs I had.
After that my cousin bought me my own equipment and 2Face was born. “2Face” came from the fact that I was a security that turned to a DJ. I have two sides that I can flip the switch for at any moment. Also from Batman, which I love. I love the story of Harvey Dent. He was a good guy who turned bad only by circumstances. After that, I became a fixture in Jacksonville Nightlife as a part of Highlife Music. Before I left Jacksonville I won Duval Diamond Strip Club DJ of the Year
That’s an amazing origin story! With all that success in Florida, why did you ultimately come to NYC?
I came to NYC to eventually be free and find myself. I have always had a supportive family, for the most part. I mean, when I first came out we had our issues, but eventually we all got on the same page.
But in Jacksonville, as a DJ I wasn’t out. I mean, I’m sure people expected it, but I was too worried about my family and my name. I was successful, but I wasn’t truly happy. I gained a lot of weight and became depressed. In Jacksonville, I also endured a lot of racial divides and harassment that I just couldn’t take anymore.
July 20, 2012, I up and moved to NYC. What I intended as just a month getaway has turned into almost five years. I didn’t come to NYC to be a DJ, I just wanted to start finally living my life.
What was your first DJ gig here?
My first gig was at Barracuda, Christmas of 2013. At that time, I was doing coat check there, and they needed a fill-in for that night. The manager at the time, Aaron Pfeiffer, was my best friend and asked if I would do it. It’s so funny how nightlife works.
I met DJ David Serrano at The Cock, who I eventually became good friends with. With that being said, I started going every Sunday to “Just The Tip” with Holly Dae and Pixie Aventura, and that’s when the magic happened.
I ended up with my first residency at POSH, because DJ Calvin–who was the DJ at the time on Wednesdays at Barracuda–wanted to give up his Monday at POSH. After I took that, I would eventually get my second residency at Barracuda, taking over for David Serrano on Sundays…Let’s just say THE COCK holds a huge chunk of my heart.
Aw, the Cock holds one of my organs, too!
So, what are your preferred devices/programs to use while DJing?
I started with CDs, then I went to Virtual DJ, and now I use Serato DJ. I own about five different controllers that I use, depending on the venue and the space. That includes Pioneer, Numark, Akai, and Denon. Most of the gigs that I have don’t have standard DJ equipment, so I have to bring my own. My favorites are my Pioneer DDJ SR and DDJ SX2.
So, customer requests: do you take them/hate them?
I am pretty good at reading a crowd, so I don’t always get requests. But when I do, it just depends on if it fits and how I’m approached with it. I think too often, customers think of us DJs as jukeboxes, and that we are just supposed to play whatever they want when they want it. I want everyone to have a good time, but that also means giving me the respect that I know what I’m doing. When you come to me and demand me to play something, you are not going to get that request. A simple human interaction, a nice smile, a drink offer–even though I am sober–or a tip goes a long way.
If my dance floor is packed, I’m not going to switch it up just for one person. but I also have the experience to compromise and make everyone happy. I wish patrons would remember that us DJs are people too, and not just your punching bag because you had a bad day.
Hear that, people! If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been sober?
I have been sober since February 17th, 2014. I just finally had enough, and wanted to turn my life around. It was tough at first, because I had never been sober when I DJed. I was always drunk–a functioning alcoholic, I would say. But I got used to it, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Being sober helped kick my DJing career off here in NYC. The fact that I’m very dependable and professional has gotten me far in this industry. Not to say not being sober is a bad thing, it’s just what has worked for me.
Congratulations! And one more DJ question: drag suicide! That’s where queens do a montage of audience requests, whether they know the songs or not. Is preparing those song lists on the fly like that a nightmare for you?
[Laughs] actually no, I love it. I learned the best way to do it from DJ Patrick Kuzara when he was at Therapy for “The Help” with Pixie Aventura and Bob The Drag Queen. The key is taking into consideration what the crowd wants, but what also makes the drag queens looks good. At the end of the day, you want to be entertained–and that is all that matters. I love telling a story in drag suicide with highs and lows, dances breaks, acting pieces, and a lot of sweating [laughs]. Of course I throw them curve balls, but I know what works. When you get that standing ovation after, it’s the only thing that matters. My queens trust me, so they know it’s going to be a great end to the show.
Okay, let’s talk about where to find you on the week. First off: Late Night Tea, Tuesdays at Hardware! That’s Pixie Aventura and normally Delighted Tobehere. That show is part talk show, part drag slaying, by two of the cities most talented queens. How fun is it to work with those two?
It is so much fun. I have been working with Pixie for over two years, and with Delighted for over a year. They are NYC’s own Odd Couple, but their dynamic together is so genuine and authentic. Delighted gives you comedy and vocals, and Pixie dances the house down and gives you a master class in acting. They both are the smartest queens I know, so it’s fun just getting to pick their brains along with the audience. We have a lot of regulars, so it’s more of a family feel–.sometimes dysfunctional, but overall there is so much love spread on our night. You will always leave informed and entertained. It’s basically a show in your living room [laughs]!
This December, Roxy Brooks is filling in for Delighted. How’s that going?
Roxy has been a great fill in. I love her energy and ditsiness [laughs]. She calls herself the smartest-dumbest drag queen.
Let’s talk about Legends Wednesdays at Rise! That’s hosted year round by Andora, and this year’s Breakthrough Artist GLAM winner, Aquaria! This month they’re joined by Roxy Brooks, and each week they pay homage to our greatest musical divas. So, Andora and Aquaria are two fairly young queens–is it exciting to watch them grow as performers?
Yes. They surprise me every week with their performances. They both pay so much attention to detail–outfits, props, wigs, and makeup–to look like these legends. It amazes me how they are able to do all this in such a short amount of time between numbers.
I love Rise because there is an actual stage, and I have a lightening gu,y so I get to pay more attention to the performances. Andora always delivers as she is a pageant queen that brings all the bells and whistles. Aquaria is so damn creative and captivating. Her high energy and death drops always leave the crowd gagging. Lady Gaga actually retweeted her performance of Aquaria impersonating her.
They are batshit crazy. I literally leave in tears every night. They both are amazing singers that also have great comedic timing. We usually play a game of “I Never” with a twist: that if you did to it you get a shot, but you have to elaborate on the story. So at our show, being a slut actually gets you rewarded! The stories we hear from week to to week are just insane.
Rush Hour Thursdays is unofficially sponsored by Rush Poppers, so you get the gist. You will always leave our show on a high, and probably take someone home.
VSBU Friday is just a party with me in the booth from 10PM to 4am. Gogo Stephen and Chaka Khanvict keeping up the energy in the room with shots and dancing.
Fun! How hard is it to drag yourself out of bed for a relatively early show after that night: Skinny Brunch Saturday with Roxy at Hardware?
Well unfortunately, my body doesn’t allow me to sleep late, so I’m usually up before noon. I usually catch up on sports, new music, and hit the gym. I’m not in the booth until 4pm, and our showtime is after 6pm, so I’m pretty good by then. If I’m a little tired, Roxy always gets me right together.
She’s one of me new favorites. I love working with her and all the different specials guests she brings in on Saturday. It’s a great show that sometimes ends with Roxy in nothing but her birthday suit!
Oh gurl, we’ve all seen that! And you certainly do see a lot of her in a week!
It seems like me and her are the new It couple [laughs]!
Theratea is growing. It usually starts off quiet, but by 7pm it’s a full on dance party. We have the amazing Jada Valenciaga joining our party, so I’m excited to see where it goes. I have always wanted to work at Therapy, so I’m so thrilled that Christoper Savoy brought me on as the DJ for this party.
Oh yay, cool development. Okay, anything else coming up?
I have been so busy as of late, but I started to allocate more time to my branding. You can check out my Fan Page on Facebook, where you can find out where I’m at and what’s going on with me. And I have a Mixcloud page where some on my mixes are at.
There are some new projects in the works, with some of my favorite queens, but it’s too early to chat about those with details being ironed out. But stay tuned. It’s looking like a great 2017 for me already. Oh, and I’m single and looking to mingle!
Noted! Last question: what’s your New Years’ resolution?
To start taking more chances and leave my my comfort zone, which includes a laundry list of things. I want to start learning to produce, and tackle other DJ software and hardware. I want to focus more on making myself the best I can be, and finding new opportunities outside of NYC to DJ, and further my career. Once you become stagnant, that’s when it becomes just a job, and not a career.
Thank you so much 2Face, and congrats again on your win!