Joel Conway will be making his AYLI return Thursday, May 19, in support of Axel Boman at Monarch. Please take a moment take dig into his exclusive podcast and interview in preparation for the big night. Quality.
William Wardlaw: You grew up in the Bay Area and have been playing records here for years. When did you get your start?
Joel Conway: My first gigs were at a series of block parties at a spot we called “Bush Gardens,” which was a notorious apartment complex in Mountain View. A residency at a spot called “Global Village Cafe,” with the homie DJ Suite followed soon after. To this day, both of those were some of the most fun parties I have ever had the pleasure of being a part of.
WW: You’re a resident for the Housepitality parties, playing both opening main room sets and in the back lounge. Do you have a favorite Wednesday you’ve been a part of?
JC: Housepitality has such a dope staff, a tight family vibe, and all the sick dancers make it an exceptional place to play tunes. The back room at F8 is the spot where I get to really just be free to take it anywhere I want. One of my most memorable Wednesday nights has got to be the time we planned to have a slow night on Xmas eve so the back room was shuddered. I opened the front room and it quickly began to fill up, to the point that by the time I was done, it was so packed that we ended up opening the back room and i played another three hours back there. I played every record I brought that night and that is a rarity.
WW: Can you tell me more about your involvement with Vinyl Dreams?
JC: Ahh Vinyl Dreams, the place where wax dreams really do come true, spun fresh daily! Bigup Mike Bee and all the rest of VD massive and crew. I was privileged enough to work there, as well as some of its previous incarnations, but as it stands now, my involvement is pretty minimal save the occasional in store record session or pleading, bribing, and throttling Mike for access to the scarcest most endangered cuts.
WW: You’re an expert at playing slow jams. What are some classics that you love to play out?
JC: Chug Life! It’s more than a tempo, it’s a state of mind. Some of my favorite classic chuggers include Future Times by Hit Man, Dance on the Groove (And Do the Funk) by Love International, Weatherall’s dubbed out remix of St. Etienne’s Only Love can Break Your Heart, Hang Out and Hustle by Sweet Charles, Danny Krivit’s edit of Chairmen of the Board, Jasmine Breeze by Stix Hooper of the mighty Crusaders, Sound Dimension’s Granny Scratch Scratch, and Angel Dust by Gil Scott Heron, just to name a few.
WW: You’re a dedicated vinyl collector. What is it about records that makes it worth the extra effort and expense to you?
JC: You hit it on the head with the question. Effort, expense… and time, inform a certain level of dedication. Vinyl collections embody those three factors. Don’t get it twisted though, at the end of the day, It’s more a matter of what’s coming out of the speakers. Music is information, and to me, it doesn’t matter what medium the information is stored on. It doesn’t dictate a persons talent or level of skill if they’re playing from vinyl sources. To me it’s more a mark of authenticity. It shows that someone not only went through the process of learning and finding out, but also took the added trouble of seeking out a finite, physical copy manufactured by humans, and is now sharing that information with you via the tactile motion of a black disc instead of just scrolling through blogs and downloading without having to leave the house. Not to mention the extra added benefit of liner notes to tell you who played what, and where, and because, well, you just can’t roll a joint on an MP3!
WW: What style of music do you play at the Taco Tuesday parties at Monarch?
JC: Taco Tuesday’s at Monarch are a chance to play anything my heart desires. Jesse tends to keep it pretty 4 on the flooriented but I’ve also heard mid-tempo stuff as well as funk and reggae dropped there and even had the pleasure of doing some of the dropping on occasion.
WW: When you first started playing in SF, who were the local DJs that inspired you?
JC: Wicked crew for sure, the Hardkiss brothers, Sunset crew, Charolette the Baroness, DJ Fuze, Humble Lion, Jah Warrior Shelter Hi Fi, Green B, Stepwise, DJ Riddim, I&I Vibration, DJ Select, Rasoul, Kwashi, DJ Essence, Ghost and Frank Nitty, DJ Carlos, DJ Jazzy Jim, DJ Disk, Quest and Eddie Def, all the ISP dudes, D Sharp, J-Boogie, Romanowski, Pam the Funkstress, DJ Shadow, Spiderman, Kevy Kev, Mike Bee, DJ Centipede, DJ Suite, Kaipo, DJ Rundown, and The Rugged Dry Hump.
WW: A lot has been written about San Francisco loosing some of it’s original character with the latest tech boom. Have you noticed any positive changes in the city that you’re optimistic about?
JC: I’ve seen san Francisco go through so many changes. Its constantly evolving and I think its important that no matter what is happening around us we stay true to ourselves and we will find our people. I think some of the changes happening in San Francisco specifically from the tech boom are not necessarily beneficial to some of the people that bring certain creativity to the city … but I think that helps to make our community more aware and passionate and motivated to support and take action to protect what we have created.
WW: How can current residents of the city keep the original energy of San Francisco alive?
JC: Original energy is whatever the energy is in the present. I think its important that we stay current and work with what we have while staying true to what it is we love about this city and support the things we believe make it great and everything will fall into place. Lead by example.