Patrick Lotilla — aka DJ Patrick — is a founding member of the Brouhaha crew, a cast of characters and DJs who have been throwing parties around the Bay Area for some time now. (Their five-year anniversary is coming in August.)
Since getting his start DJing at UC Berkeley’s notorious Cloyne co-op (more on that below), Patrick’s been playing out all over San Francisco and Oakland, cultivating a sound that melds easygoing house music with further-out rave-inflected tunes, especially those with funky breakbeats.
DJ Patrick’s making his As You Like It return this Saturday, June 21, for a day party at The Midway featuring the one and only Omar S. Give a listen to his AYLI Podcast below and read on to learn more about what drives him as a DJ.
CZ: Tell me about where you’re from, and how you ended up in the Bay Area.
PL: I was born here, so you can say that I’m returning to it! I spent some time in the Philippines and Southern California prior to my current stint here. I moved back to the Bay to attend school at UC Berkeley, and have stuck around since graduating. I guess I’ve grown attached to the place!
CZ: Tell me about your history with electronic music — when did you discover it, and where? What made you fall in love?
PL: I’m lucky to have been exposed to electronic music at a young age. I had two uncles who were into electronic music and would play it constantly. Mostly standard fare like Underworld, The Prodigy, The Chemical Brothers, plus a Tiesto or Hed Kandi mix here and there!
At the same time, I was also into video games, and in hindsight, I realize that a lot of the games I played featured electronic music in them. I remember playing Wipeout XL on the PS1 and that soundtrack included music from Photek, Orbital, Daft Punk, etc. That’s about as good as any R&S or XL comp I’d say! Even games that didn’t necessarily have dance music still laid the foundation for shaping my taste later on. You ever play Oddworld: Abe’s Odyssey? Tons of dub, ambient, and industrial tunes in that one. Final Fantasy loading music? That’s kinda what some of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s Green sounds like. I believe when you’re young and leaning to love electronic music, the visual component is pretty crucial.
I have this memory of Koji Morimoto’s video for Ken Ishii’s EXTRA. The mood and the tone really brought me in. I didn’t really know anything about techno but It was one of those moments with music videos (RIP ’90s MTV) where the visuals and the music really came together to create this world you could dive into, and when you’re a bored kid living in the suburbs, that’s all you need to get away.
CZ: And a related question: Tell me your DJ story. How’d you pick up DJing? Have you been at it for some time, or is it a recent passion? What brought you to it?
PL: In 2008, I accidentally DJed my first party. My friends and I were throwing a pre-party to get us hyped up for Hardfest and I guess I was put in charge of playing music. I burned some CDs with some mixes (including Simian Mobile Disco’s FabricLive 41), and I imagine that was the moment that introduced me to the notion of choosing music for others. It’s an added bonus too that that moment was my first foray into the world of DJ mixes, so it got me thinking about both at the same time.
About a year later I picked up a copy of Traktor and started dissecting mixes to teach myself phrasing and getting a feel of how a mix ebbs and flows. It was probably a bad idea to pick apart Essential Mixes cause those aren’t necessarily live representations and are little more manicured but I guess learning from perfection has its merits!
In university, I dove deep into deejaying and got used to playing to a live audience. I lived in a renovated hotel that was used for student housing, called Cloyne, and it housed 150 students. On occasion, we turned this huge space into basically a music venue. We had tons of space, a bigger-than-necessary soundsystem, and a whole host of people who thought Cloyne was the better alternative than partying in the frats or on the main strip. It’s kind of a blessing that I reflect on, because I can say for sure this is where I really cut my teeth.
CZ: How do you pick tunes for a gig? What’s your process, and what are your considerations?
PL: I just choose tunes from my collection! You hope that when you’re booked, the promoter has at least thought about how to fit you into their grand vision of flow for the party. I’m just the point-guard here, you know? Coach tells me where to be and I just have to execute when the time comes.
That said, it’s still important to prepare. Not sure where I remember this from but someone once made the comparison that DJing is awfully a lot like stand-up comedy. You practice some routines, have some material ready for emergencies, but for the most part, once you’re up there- you’re performing off the cuff. It’s the same for me. I make a bin for the scenario playing out in my head. Pro-tip: it’s never that scenario. Make sure I have some new music, some music from friends, music that I’m not worried to let play out, and then just wing it.
CZ: On a similar note, what kind of tunes are you drawn to as a DJ? What makes you think “this is a hot tune I need to play out” vs. one that, well, doesn’t? What kind of club environment do you wish to build when you’re behind the decks?
PL: I’m drawn to music with character and this can manifest itself in several ways. Maybe it’s an unusual melody, or a weird sample, or the lyrics are kinda fucked up. Whatever the case, it needs to make me go “whoa, that was unusual” cause that’s the kind of music you want to be around. If music isn’t doing that for you, then it’s just white noise.
I’m very contextual when it comes to what I play and therefore what my sets sound like. I build the environment that is needed at the time and by the dancers, but generally I try to create a space that will stimulate emotion, humor, and curiosity which I hope translates to movement on the dancefloor.
CZ: Tell me about your AYLI Podcast. How’d you put it together? What kind of story does it tell? Is it fairly representative of yourself as a DJ, or does it go out on a lark?
I mixed this together on a pair of ancient CDJ 200s, a single turntable, and an Ecler mixer, while drinking an Arnold Palmer. I did a couple runs, took a nap, then chose the best.
Since the mix is only an hour long, I tried to keep it simple. Just some tunes I think listeners would enjoy if they were listening to this on their laptop at work or going on a job. I pulled from my collection and didn’t go out of my way to acquire anything specific for this mix, so yeah, you could say that the tunes on here are representative of myself as a DJ.
CZ: What’s the story behind Brouhaha? How did it start? Have you been involved with it since the beginning? You’re coming up on your five year (!) anniversary. Did you think it would come this far?
PL: Brouhaha started off as a house party at an apartment on Divisadero St. It was founded by Camden, Ryc, Sean and myself as a gathering for all people that want to dance and listen to good music in a casual space without pretentiousness and attitude. Not much to say about actual specifics, there was probably beer being drank. Anyway, we just went and did the first one and kept doing them from there. More so than anything, Brouhaha reflects the people who run it. We’re all easy going and level headed guys, and the party takes on that character. We feel at home hosting a BBQ or kickback just as much as we do holding down the Public Works Loft.
Five years is quite something huh? It’s the shortest long time! I’d say things are just really getting started. At the beginning, we weren’t really thinking how long it would last — we were just so busy figuring out how to put on the next one. We’re definitely getting better at it. Time flies when you’re having fun goes the saying.
CZ: If you could design a club from the ground up, and fill it with whatever DJs and willing crowds you could pick from, tell me what that would look like.
PL: For me, it’s about the space beyond the dance floor. We all want good sound, but in addition to that there should be plenty of space to explore. Spaces separate from the dance floor with interesting architecture that could keep you preoccupied while you come down from your high. Interaction is the key here. Maybe the artists have left their spackle behind, so why not make sculptures? Maybe the furniture can be moved around to allow clubbers to create their own space. What’s important is that clubbers feel connected to the space and one way to do it is for them to leave their own personal touch.
But then again, my ideal club takes the definition of the word in essence. Much like a book club that can gather anywhere, so it doesn’t matter what space is used, if the conceptual idea of the club is sound, any space will do.
CZ: Last but not least: What’s some new (or new-to-you) music that’s really got you going these days?
PL: DJML‘s latest on Jacktone. MGUN‘s newest album. “Downtempo” music (see: Paul Hardcastle before he got full on Jazzmasters). Birch Koolman’s Intentions Mix. Always disco records I cannot afford. Whatever Jess is rocking down at Vinyl Dreams. Blue Planet Season 1’s Soundtrack by George Fenton. Svek Records. Warrior’s Dance records. Will DiMaggio’s album on Future Times!