Carlos Figueroa aka DJ Bio Zounds has been in the game for a minute, and is still keeping his beats cutting edge thanks to a strong digital presence and a new, live, drum-heavy kiki.
Thotyssey: Hello BZ, thanks for chatting with us today! You just DJed an after hours affair for Anubis in Brooklyn on Sunday morning. What was that like?
Bio Zounds: It was a circuit scene–Anubis Afterhours are circuit afterhours. So, colorful happy people clacking fans, and circuit beats. I had a lot of fun.
Do people act, um, differently in those late / early hours than they would at 11pm?
Not really… they just want to continue what they started at 11pm, which is lots of dancing. At least, the people I know.
Isn’t it wonderful to be back out in the world DJing, after lockdown?
Oh yes, I missed it very much. But I kept busy on Twitch during the pandemic… I just couldn’t stay away. Thank God for Twitch!
You enjoy digital DJing!
It has been a blessing. I’ve met so many new DJ producers on Twitch, and have become friends with so many of them… which I loved. We even have met in person on a few occasions. On Twitch you still interact with people–of course not [in the same way as at] a live event, but you still do. People love the “chat room.” And [in digital DJing there is] more freedom musically. Thanks to Twitch, I was able to introduce the Afro Tech House side of me. I still host my three shows every weekend.
Where are you from, and how did your musical side evolve over time?
I am originally from Puerto Rico, born and raised on the island–I moved to NYC in 1996. I have evolved quite a bit musically. Back in the 80’s I was an Italo Disco / New Wave fanatic. I even came out on a TV show like Soul Train, but it was all about Italo Disco and New Wave. Italo Disco was very loved in PR during the 80s. In the late 90’s I turned to techno, which continued when moving to NYC where I attended my first rave in 1996. Once 2000 came, I was more into the Progressive House than anything. That’s when I started DJing. Going forward ’til now, it’s all about house music leaning more to the drums–meaning tribal and afro beats, with some tech.
How exactly did DJing start for you?
Since my teen years I was always attracted to music, as well as my passion to DJ. I would play music on my dual tape deck and would try to mix it, and surprisingly sometimes the beat would match–and that was so exciting for me. Going to the clubs and staring at the DJ doing his job was my thing, besides dancing.
When I moved to New York City, I met this guy who happened to also be a DJ. From then, I started practicing with his equipment–however, I was self-taught. Finally, I got to get my own DJ setup… out of three credit cards. I then became a DJ in NYC, and the rest is history!
What’s the origin of your DJ name, by the way?
My DJ name has also evolved, lol! I began with “DJ Biohazard.” Why Biohazard? Because my friends always used to tell me that my music would make them do drugs. Once I started producing music, I changed it to Bio Zounds and kept the “☣️” symbol on my logo.
What have been been some of your all-time favorite gigs you’ve played over the years?
Playing Boqueron Pride 2016’s main event, and OMW 2017, where I won the DJ contest and got to play a “Therapy Pool Party” opening for Manny Lehman. Those two have been the highlights of my career so far.
Has a lot changed about the DJ business since you started?
Quite a bit: from DJ equipment, to how you share your music, to how you play your music, to how you get ready for a gig, to how you carry your music and setups. Lots of changes in the business–but for the better, in my opinion.
Do you have an all-time favorite track or artist?
Circuit scene: I love Tribal Nation. House scene: Robbie Rivera. And in the Afro “Techie” scene, I like Saliva Commandos and Black Coffee. Favorite track of all time? I would say maybe Basement Jaxx’s “Flylife.”
Given the specific genres of music you’re most likely to be DJing, it must be so irritating when some twink comes up to request Taylor Swift, or something!
Lol, I do not get many requests at the events I do… thank God! But when I do get Britney, Taylor and Rihanna requests, I honestly tell them what’s up and the reason I cannot grant their request. They don’t get mad; they surprisingly understand. Sometimes it’s because I don’t play commercial music in my gigs–it’s very rare that I do. And sometimes it’s because when you are playing an afterhours, people don’t come to listen to Britney. Nothing against Britney, Rihanna or Taylor, lol!
One new live party of yours that’s proven quite successful is “Alma y Tambores,” described as “an evening of drums and music” that you curate with fellow DJ Ted Bishop Nieves. That began as a digital livestream, but has since found a home as a proper in-person kiki at the Deep End in Ridgewood. It’s returning there this Friday night; tell us more!
“Alma Y Tambores” is all about house music–leaning towards the Afro and Afro Tech, a genre of house music that doesn’t have as many platforms as we want (at least not here in New York City, where circuit seems to be what’s favorite). That’s the reason why Ted and I created this brand; it is so needed in the community. So get ready to dance the night away al ritmo del tambor–which means “to the drumbeats”–while having a delicious cocktail in an awesome atmosphere like the Deep End.
And down the road, on Saturday, May 21st you and Ted will be bringing “Alma Y Tambores” to a different party that you often DJ at: Rebar’s “CALIBR!”
Oh, yes, as part of the OMW DJ tour. That should be fun! It will be our second “Alma Y Tambores” with CALIBR. We are super grateful to Antonio Cedeno Events.
Yes–that would be Sunday morning, June 5th. I am SUPER excited about this. “Cadabra” has been on my Bucket List!
What else is coming up for you?
We will hopefully continue to have our “Alma Y Tambores” event at the Deep End once a month. After OMW, I will be DJing at the brand new mega club in PR, Kweens Klub, on June 25th. On Twitch: my regular “Mantra: Underground Sundays” with the “Sunday Funday Raid Train,” which is every Sunday; “Energia by Bio Zounds,” which is the Circuit show, one alternate Friday night of the month; and our baby “Alma Y Tambores” livestream, which is every fourth Saturday of the month. This month, we will have Richie Dio as guest DJ. Other things cooking up!
Amazing! Lastly, what’s your best advice for a newbie trying to break into the DJ scene?
Be great and be amazing, but over all be humble… and let them have it!