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Philly Mixtape Music Tea w/ DJ Na:tev

For thirteen years, Philadelphia resident DJ Na:tev has been killing it in the DJ world. When he’s not immersing himself in his massive vinyl collection, you can find him in the studio making music, perfecting his trademark scratches, or building his online DJ presence on his radio channel at www.awdio.com/djnatev. Mr. Na:tev (real name Nathan Cheyney) was nice enough to sit down and spill some music tea with Philly Mixtape, where he gabbed about his humble beginnings, the one album he can’t live without and just how crazy recording in the studio can be. Get to know this amazing local talent below…all you have to do is..dive in.

PM-Kicking things off, tell everyone a little bit on  how you got started in the crazy DJ world.

DN-I was always a musical kid, creating rhythm on any surface. As soon as the Walkman came out I lived in headphones. I would buy tapes and records at yard sales and thrift stores to get my fix. As a teen, I started playing guitar. Just a typical Northern California skater punk. I started getting into punk and hardcore, which strangely led to delta blues and into classic rock. After some college for audio engineering, I moved here to Philly for a handful of reasons and began to experience a whole different history and sound. A friend of mine had a pair of belt drive turntables and a basic Gemini mixer and along with another friend we rented a place. This introduced me to Motown and funk, trip hop, and a whole bunch of other stuff due to the diversity of interest in the house. Shortly thereafter, we started to get creative by taping nickels to the head shells to weigh them down and started attempting to scratch. It was probably 3 months before we broke everything in the kit and I was hooked. Being the investing genius I was at 22, I took my credit card and maxed it out by buying a whole new big boy setup and have never looked back since.

PM-Any favorite music artists or DJs who’ve inspired you on your journey?

DN-I’m always inspired by artists that aren’t trying to follow the formula. Intelligent lyrics, good stories, fresh and original feel. As for DJ’s, that’s a long list. Hands down, DJ Shadow really changed my perception of turntableism. After living with his albums permanently in my player for a while, I started listening to the guys that really forwarded the art to what it is now. Invisible Scratch Pickles, Mixmaster Mike, Cut Chemist, RjD2, DJ Babu, Jazzy Jeff, Qbert. So many talented DJ’s have kept me pushing since the start.

PM-Now, how would your fans best describe your sound?

DN-Funky, old school. Scratch heavy. Open format awesome!

PM-What makes your particular style unique from the other DJs out there?

DN-Most of the new breed didn’t learn, and never played vinyl. I have put a lot of time developing my scratch skills on vinyl and feel like that has become a rarity. I consider myself technical and clean, I do this because I love music. I think a big chunk of the industry has focused on popularity over skill for a while now.

PM-Okay, I want to ask a question that gets every musician I spill tea with every time. If you had to pick one record that you couldn’t live without, which one would it be and why?

DN-I can’t choose between my children like that. The answer would probably change every time I was asked. But I guess for the sake of pulling the trigger I’ll say Jimi Hendrix/Are You Experienced.

PM-Let’s talk gigs for a minute. Of course, as much as we want them to, they can’t all be perfect. As many times as you’ve killed it at gigs, are there any that come to mind that you feel didn’t fare so well?

DN-Of course, I’m an artist and my biggest hater. But every DJ who’s been around for longer than a minute has had some trying nights because of people/setups/promoters/club owners or pay f*ck up their night.

PM-Are there any artists that you personally would you like to see make a major comeback this year?

DN-Missy Elliot, no doubt!

PM-Absolutely! She’s actually been killing in the studio again, and I know that you’ve quite some time in there as well. Of course, it’s a blast, but what would you say is the most difficult part of studio sessions?

DN-The waiting! I’m a bit hyper, so sitting around through takes is probably most challenging for me.

PM-One more thing, what would you say to a DJ who was just starting out in the business?

DN-Hustle. Hard. Then hustle more. Be relentless. It takes a lot just to break in, let alone make a real go at this industry. I hacked away for 2 years before getting a respectable gig to speak of. You’re self employed, you have to be your own promoter, marketer, stylist etc. Most importantly though, practice the craft. Get really good, then find somebody who makes you feel like an infant and get better. If it doesn’t keep you up at night thinking about a mix, or how to do that scratch, or constantly pull you into the light…it’s just not for you.

For more on DJ Na:tev go here and here.

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“Philly Mixtape Music Tea”w/ DJ Jimmy DePre

If there is one person in Philly who I could spill music tea all day with, it would be resident Tavern on Camac DJ and music connoisseur, Jimmy DePre. I’m happy to say that since the launch of Philly Mixtape, Jimmy and I have become gabbin’ music galpals, so I couldn’t wait to dust off the good Lennox tea cups and get to sippin’ with him. Dive into our “Philly Mixtape Music Tea” below.

PM-Hey Jimmy, thanks so much for having this little music chat with me. I know you and I can go on for hours, so I’ll keep it short and sassy. To start off, tell me how you got started in the biz.

JD-I got started professionally when I was 15 working with Jerry Blavat. My musical curiosity and career interest for radio led me to him, initially to sit in and watch him do his thing. That one time turned into once a week and before I knew it I was learning the technical side of radio. One afternoon, his intern didn’t make it into the office and I stopped by after school. He needed a commercial cut, edited and produced by 5pm and no one was around to do it. Knowing basically nothing about computer audio programs, let alone how to use them, I went in blindly and by trial and error got it done. Soon, I was redoing everything the intern had done to sharpen my skills. A few months later, he asked me if I was interested in learning how to spin. I was again thrown to the lions. He took me to a gig, introduced me to his DJ who in turn briefly showed me how the decks worked and where the music was at and disappeared for a smoke/bathroom break. Here I was in front of about 1,000 people at this huge convention and it was either figure it out or not. Over the next 6 years with him, I honed my skills at first for slip-cueing and then beat mixing. I was constantly on the hunt for dance music, both old and new. I quit when I was 21 and a month later ,started a brief Thursday night residency at 12th Air Command. After that, things just kept going and going and here we are today.

PM-What’s the first song you think you ever heard in your life?

JD-It’s hard for me to remember the first song I ever heard, but I do know that the first song I ever heard on the radio was “A Wonderful Dream” by The Majors from 1962. The DJ playing it on the radio, Hy Lit, ended up being my inspiration for chasing that career path at the beginning.

PM-How about the first song you ever spun?

JD-Similar to the last question and given how I spun the first time, I have no memory of the first song I ever spun, but I’d be willing to bet it was a Motown record.

PM-Shout out for me one album that you can’t live without.

JD-While this may sound completely random, “What’s The Story Morning Glory” by Oasis is the first one that comes to mind. I have a lot of great memories attached to that album and it stands out because it’s so unlike everything else I play at home.

PM-Definitely one of the best albums from the 90’s, for sure. Speaking of the good ol 90’s, a lot of dance music right now has been kissed with that sexy 90’s deep house groove, what is one old school dance track that you spin all the time?

JD-I still include Livin’ Joy’s “Dreamer” often in sets and it still gets a great response. Janice Robinson’s vocals are killer and that organ in the hook is everything.

PM-Okay, so if you had to pick one Madonna song to listen to for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

JD-“Borderline” wins hands down for me. I remember loving it as a kid when I first heard it, and it sounds as fresh to me when I hear it now. It’s one solid groove and she gives a great performance.

PM-So, I’m sure by now that you’ve heard that both Janet and Missy are both coming out with new records soon. The other day, I asked fellow DJ Chris Urban the same question and he’s looking most forward to Missy’s album. How about you?

JD-Well if what Timbaland has to say is true, I can’t wait to see what Missy is going lay on us. It’s been almost equally as long since either have had an album out so we’re due for Janet too, but I’m really anxious to hear the “game-changer” that Missy has finished and ready to go. When something is described as “it sounds today, but the future” then I’m all ears and waiting.

For more music from Mr. DePre, go right here and be sure to check your life every Friday and Saturday night right here to see hear him turn it the fuck out.