If you’ve ever wandered into a bar where you found yourself engulfed in wall-to-wall music videos of 90s Britpoppers, current K-Poppers or any era of Kylie Minogue and thought “this is my heaven,” then DJ Ricardo “OhRicky” Mohammed is likely your God. And now after a not-as-brief-as-we’d-have-liked hiatus, this maestro of Eurocheese has found time away from his vegan cooking to return to the Hardware DJ booth for the much missed Broadway Mondays.
This amazing hustle has been keeping you busy these few months! What is your most popular item?
My vegan jerk mac n’ cheese. As it happens it’s also my favourite, so I always make extra.
Looks delicious! If you weren’t a DJ, do you think you might’ve been a full time chef?
I probably would; I went to school for it back in 2004. I almost ended up pursuing it, but the company I was working for at the time was sold and I was given a promotion and pay rise to stay on. So I made the choice to stay in music and shelve the cooking dream. As it happens, on the day I got that offer I had a job interview to work as the sous chef for David Chang. I never showed up! The Dean at the school set that up for me.
Would’ve been great either way! I understand you were teaching as well, at one point.
Yeah, I was a teacher when I graduated college. At the time, I thought I was going to change the world one kid at a time. Now instead, I am changing the world one Kylie video at a time.
So you were born in Trinidad, but were basically raised in Queens. Do you get to go back to your birthplace often?
I do–I go home once a year to visit. However, that’s not going to happen this year as travel is not the best at the moment. Besides the prevailing pandemic, people seem to have no idea how to behave on planes anymore. I am aching for a trip back home, because I am running out of my favourite soap that I always stock up on when I visit.
People are shitty on planes! How about in bars… do patrons generally let you do your thing while you’re DJing, or do you get bothered a lot with requests, demands, etc?
I think requests are an occupational hazard. However, I like to take it as an opportunity to engage with the community, so I have an idea as to where and how to drive my playlists. Requests can be useful, like on my Broadway nights. I don’t know every musical that’s existed. Let’s face it, who does? So when I am given something esoteric, I like to note it and find it for future use.
You got your start as a VJ at the dearly missed Forest Hills venue, Breadstix. That venue was known for its music videos, and you played a lot of them!
That’s right, I started my video DJing career there back in the fall of 1994. I came across an ad in a magazine called On The Wilde Side seeking a video DJ. I took a chance and submitted a demo cassette. The owner rang me up a week later and had me go in for a test run; he had me play for him while he worked the bar for happy hour. At the end of the “audition,” he hired me and said he was curious as to where I got all the videos I was playing. I had my own video library of VHS and laser discs consisting of pop videos by artists like Bananarama, Take That, Big Fun, Cathy Dennis and of course Kylie Minogue. As it happened, he was a big fan of Europop. So that worked out quite well for me.
When I have little parties at home I play from YouTube… but that does not make me a VJ! A real video DJ puts a lot of work into the audio and video they play at their gigs. You even edit and splice entirely new videos for remixes and alternate versions, where the tempo doesn’t match the original video’s pace.
Yeah, I spend a great deal of time before my gigs editing videos to the dance version. I have hundreds in my library now that I have done. I also recut videos to use a TV performance with a music video. I recently recut the BTS clip for “Dynamite” with the Jimmy Fallon appearance, and both takes of the music video. I post some of my video remixes on my YouTube channel.
Speaking of BTS, you are champion of K-pop. Video DJs know that K-pop is like a treasure trove, not just because the music is fun, but also the videos are so visually lavish. And the boys are cute too, lol!
Yeah I have been playing K-pop music videos in my sets for a while now. It probably started back in 2011 or 2012, around when I became obsessed with 2NE1’s “I Am the Best.’ K-pop songs are hook-laden pop treasures. I am happy that it’s gained mainstream favor in the last year or so with NYC gay audiences. My favourites are Super Junior, NCT 127, Kard, BTS, Blackpink and TWICE. I just love them all!
And yes, you are also NYC’s number one Kylie stan DJ… well, with possible exception of Nicky Boom Box!
I actually think that Nicky plays more Kylie than I do, if that is even possible. I mean, I can’t play Kylie all night long, can I? I do have to stick in my Eurovision videos as well at some point.
Fair! But how are you liking her new music?
Kylie has always been at her consummate best when she releases disco-tinged records. Her past triumphs have echoed as much. I love everything that she has put out so far from the forthcoming Disco album. The songs and the videos are exactly what I wanted in a new Kylie record–especially in 2020, when the world really needs to feel the release of a dance floor.
How do you enjoy DJing drag shows? Those divas can be so demanding, lol (just kidding, girls)!
Well a drag queen wouldn’t be a drag queen if they weren’t of the “diva” mindset. I am grateful that I get to work with the best of drag, though, from the established legends to the new queens. There is only one rule for a successful drag show as far as I am concerned. That is, have your music on a flash drive or email it well in advance to the DJ. I swear, there is nothing more off putting that someone asking you to download their music while you’re in the middle of mixing.
Yes, I will definitely miss that. I love working with Paige. She’s an example of a professional who is always prepared and delivers all the time. Plus, she makes a lot of pop culture references that I appreciate because, well… I am old! Also, she is one of the few queens in NYC that does Kylie numbers in her sets.
Hopefully the magic will happen again elsewhere, soon!
But two other venues where you’ve been based for a long time, sister bars Pieces in the West Village and Hardware in Hell’s Kitchen, have weathered the storm and are now taking 25% capacity sit-down dinner crowds! You returned to the Hardware booth this past week for Broadway Mondays, a long running show that’s usually hosted by a queen, but is currently solo OhRicky and the best of your Broadway clips! How did it go?
It went well, as some familiar faces showed up to get their Broadway fix. It felt good to be back in the booth playing Broadway clips. It took a minute or two to get my mind back into the groove of mixing the videos, as I like to connect the clips so that the videos I select tell a bit of a story. You know, if I play Hadestown, I’ll throw on a bit of Hercules afterwards, and then some Xanadu.
Now that we don’t have Broadway for at least another year, this might be the best place to get our fix!
Well, I think I have plugged Kylie enough time now. Any more of that, and people may start thinking of me as obsessed. I do hope people continue to support our Broadway Mondays. Hopefully, at some point I’ll be able to bring back my Eurovision parties as that was also cancelled this year due to the pandemic. I am certain there is anther NYC contingent aching for a bit of that.
Absolutely! Okay finally: what song should Kylie come sing live at your 100th birthday?
That’s an easy one: “I Should Be So Lucky.” It was her first international chart single, and when I first fell in love with her. Plus, I should be so lucky to live to be Shequida’s age.
LOL! See you soon, Ricky!