On Point With: Gant Johnson

This veteran and iconic NYC DJ is known for spinning both beats and bicycle wheels, and he’s about to celebrate his 54th birthday in appropriate style: three cheers for Gant Johnson!

Thotyssey: Hello Gant, thanks for chatting with us today! Happy almost birthday! Are you a Birthday Person?

Gant Johnson: I am always grateful to celebrate a birthday!

Do you have any, like, special birthday song that you play, lol?

Not really! It’s really hard to narrow it down to just one.

In general, what’s your favorite genre of music to spin?

House music all night long! But I like several types of music.

Where are you from, and did you always have music in your life?

I’m originally from Chicago. Music has always been an important part of my life, along with cycling!

Are you a competitive cycler?

I’m not, but I should be! The thought of going that fast near newbies and people I don’t know or trust kinda scared me away from racing. I race the clock, since it can’t hurt me, lol!

Understandable! So when, where and how did you become a DJ in NYC?

I was seeking gigs as soon as I moved to NYC the first time, in 1991. Linda Simpson gave me my first gig at an LGBT spot in NYC, “Channel 69.” That party was so much fun! SOB’s and The Pyramid were my first two venues, I think.

Those must have been amazing times in the scene! Do you have any special favorite memory of DJing in the early 90s?

Channel 69 at The Pyramid, filling in for Johnny Dynell at BoyBar, and a party we did 1993 to ’99, “Salon Wednesdays” at Flamingo East.

Obviously it’s an understatement to say that the business and scene of nightlife have changed in so many ways over the past three decades. What are the worst ways and the best ways it’s changed?

There are a lot of ways to look at that, too many to list! The cellphone thing has cut both ways, though. Community Boards, 311, and gentrification have troubled nightlife and venues quite a bit, I think. One call to 311 can destroy someone’s business!

It’s true, and a lot of people weaponize that. Well, people will be calling 911 on Friday during your birthday bash at C’mon Everybody after all the slaying that will go down! The party’s called “Yes She Did,” which is also the name of your weekly show (Thursdays, noon to 3pm) on Brooklyn-based The Face Radio. Along with Vanity Zo, our sis Freddie Cosmo will be making music that night as well! How did you come to know him?

Through my YSD radio show co-host Tre D’Ambrocia!

‘Yes She Did” will be your 54th Birthday bash at C’mon on Friday night featuring a Studio 54 theme. You were too young to enjoy that legendary club, unless you were maybe on play dates with Drew Barrymore.

Yes, I was too young… but the magic energy of that music, fashion, and carefree attitude will live forever! People come to C’mon Everybody to dance so it should be quite the affair!

Meanwhile, you also spin at The Exley in Brooklyn.

We played there for Pride and had a block party and DJed for over 13 hours, and they still wanted more! I’m there Thursday nights 9pm to 3am for a party we’re calling “Butch Queens Express” or #BQE, since The Exley is right next to that freeway. And then I’m there on Sunday afternoons for “Breezin,” which is more of a chill vibe / tea dance feeling 4-9 pm. The crowd there is very diverse and chill, and it’s always free!

Have great shows! Lastly, what’s your best advice for a baby DJ who just arrived on the scene?

Keep your day job, lol!

Ha! Thanks Gant, and happy birthday!

Check Thotyssey’s calendar for DJ Gant Johnson’s upcoming appearances, and follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Soundcloud.

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