Spinning in the city for a little over a year now, this DJ is having a pretty great 2018. Now giving life to more and more dancefloors, it’s a good time to get to know DJ Reaubert!
Thotyssey: Hey Mr. DJ! Thanks for chatting with us tonight. You’re having a busy summer!
DJ Reaubert: Hi Thotyessy! Yes, this summer has been keeping me on my toes. I’ve just returned from five days out at the Honcho Campout in rural Pennsylvania, and now it’s back to gigs and shows in NYC!
Busy indeed! How long have you been a DJ now?
I used to DJ a party back in North Carolina called Unwind, but this was 2009-2010. [When I moved to New York] I started my first monthly party “Honey Please” at Metropolitan Bar in Williamsburg just over a year ago, in June of 2017. For my one year anniversary, Honey Please was turned into a weekly with featured DJ guests. I started another monthly at Nowhere Bar in May called “Pinky Ring”. It’s only been a little over a year, but things seem to be going well.
More on those nights in a bit! So North Carolina is your native land?
North Carolina is the place. Born and raised on a big farm in the country. I moved to NYC in the spring of 2011, so I’m almost at my “real New Yorker” stage. It’s 10 years, right?
That sounds reasonable.
I feel like I’ve been here longer. But I think that’s what the city does to you when you find your tribe.
It does precisely that!
Were you always music-oriented?
Yes, for sure! I still have friends from high school that kept the mixtapes that I made them. I’ve always loved music, and music videos from the 90’s and 00’s really formed the basis of my passion. Bjork, Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim… these musicians always had amazing visuals and sounds, so I would record the videos on VHS. Like a video mixtape.
I was lucky that we moved to a bigger city in high school, so I could raid the old record shop and read liner notes for music to hunt down. When I found something I loved, I always wanted to share it. It makes sense now, being a DJ and having a platform to share. When I was younger, I was always in control of the radio, and probably driving someone nuts.
We have similar tastes! When I was watching the VMAs last night, I thought everything I saw and heard was boring bullshit. I’m allowed to be an old irrelevant fart, but as a DJ you have to stay current with musical / producing trends in all popular genres, right?
That’s an ongoing conversation that I have with myself. My tastes are not Top 40 or current in terms of pop culture. I’ve always preferred what was happening in the underground, or on the periphery of a particular scene–like deep house, techno or disco. I’m also a throwback girl. I love disco, soul, and funk from the 70’s and 80’s. I love nostalgia. I love camp. There are so many styles of music that current trends sample or draw from that is just amazing stuff!
I know that the kids want to hear the newest Ariana Grande track, but I want to give them some Gloria Gaynor or Loleatta Holloway instead. A real diva. This is New York, this is a place to be exposed to really great music. That all being said, I do have to keep on top of trends and pop music; but given my interests, I’m happier to roll up to a party with a box full vinyl from 1985 and turn out a disco set to get my life.
Music is a conversation. Styles adapt and change. And a good DJ knows how to make the songs talk together through time and space. So long as I have that opportunity, that’s what I try to do.
There is a movement now involving DJs pushing back against patrons’ song requests, saying that DJs aren’t jukeboxes and should be trusted to expose floors to different sounds. Do you subscribe by that?
All DJs hate requests; this should go without saying.
But is it getting harder to do that with today’s nightlifers?
I do think it’s harder to play in certain locations. For example, a bar like Nowhere is going to be more receptive to a certain DJ who plays disco and new wave, where that wouldn’t really fly at Rosemont on a Saturday night. I think that’s partly to do with age. The kids these days are used to demanding things, and that’s just not how anyone should act to a DJ. I find it baffling though, when you’ve been listening to the same song all week on Spotify and you want to hear it over and over at the bar, too.
If a song doesn’t fit a DJ’s style or their set list, they should have every right to turn down the request. If you request a song that is in the genre or style and I have it… I’ll play it. But don’t be the guy who walks up to me while I’m spinning Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” and request “Chun Li”… that’s an automatic nope. We certainly are not jukeboxes.
People should trust their DJ. You might not like every song, but you might learn something or *gasp* discover you like more than you thought you did before.
It must be like a little victory when you play something in your set and you see kids waving their phones around Shazaaming it.
For sure! That, and when I can see someone’s head-nodding or toe-tapping. And if that person keeps moving… I play for them. It could just be one person in the room connecting, but so long as I’ve facilitated that connection to the song, it makes me satisfied.
So okay, Wednesday is the next edition of your monthly “Pinky Ring” at Nowhere. Set the scene for us!
Pinky Ring is an invitation to NYC queers and allies who appreciate music with a bit of a outsider statement. I’m bringing dub remixes of Blondie tracks, old Bjork singles from the early 90’s, and some dollar bin disco singles that have a lived-in, funky feeling. I do think of the evening as a listening party in a way, because I want to actively engage people with the sound… but I always have some dancers show up, and I live for a dance party. I’d say that’s kind of my vibe, the thinking person’s dance party. With a dash of irreverence.
The theme of the night is Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, so plan an appropriate lewk! I’m so excited to be sharing the bill with such an amazing crew. Will is such an icon in the community! I’ll be spinning an all-vinyl set of 80’s bops to keep people on the feet and moving. I haven’t been [to VON] in years, but the dance floor is cozy and perfect for twirling!
Like you mentioned earlier, your party “Honey Please” at Metropolitan, originally a monthly, is now a Saturday weekly. Last week, a sexy up-and-coming singer named Richard Cortez performed a set at Honey while you were in Pennsylvania. He’s very impressive!
Richard is so talented! I’ve seen him perform at Frankie Sharp’s MARY before, and he always kills it. I was so happy that he was able to perform while I was traveling. It will be nice to continue playing with the format of Honey Please. I’d love to feature new DJs with great record collections and performers as well.
Saturday the 25th is a new Honey Please, with DJ Dust Blaze joining you in the booth.
Dust Blaze and I are playing each other’s parties next week, as I’ll join him on Wednesday, August 29th at Nowhere for a cowboy-themed romp in the hay.
I’ve followed Otter J’s work for a while, so it should be a cute crowd.
It must be a little surreal and, er, distracting to spin for a room of near-naked dudes.
I love nudity on the dance floor! Big fan! And I’ll more than likely be half-dressed myself. I think the biggest challenge for me is creating a mood where people feel free and let their inhibitions down. We all want to feel sexy, so I’m here to help. Music helps me get into my body and move.
Are you doing Bushwig?
I’m not doing anything for Bushwig this year. I did get my tickets, though! Very excited about all that amazing-ness that Horrorchata and crew have in store.
What else is going on with you?
Now that I have a weekly and a monthly party, I want to spend more time this fall being creative, playing music and collaborating with fellow DJs. My guest DJs at Honey Please have been of the best part of going weekly, since we always have a full carry behind the decks. It’s a true gift to share music and dance with your friends.
Congratulations! Okay, last question that I always ask DJs: what’s your best advice for someone new to the biz who wants to spin the bars and clubs in NYC?
Come out and support your fellow DJs. Learn how to read a room. Ask questions. Dance.
Thank you, Reaubert!
DJ Reaubert spins “Honey Please” Saturdays at Metropolitan Bar (6pm) and “Pinky Ring” every fourth Wednesday at Nowhere Bar (10pm). Check Thotyssey’s calendar for all his scheduled gigs, and follow Reaubert on Facebook, Instagram, MixCloud and SoundCloud.
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