Justin Michael: He Got Soul
edited: Tuesday, February 27, 2007
By Jesse Ship
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Become a Fan
Interview with international deep house sensation, DJ Justin Michael
DJ Justin Michael sits pensively in the studio during a break in the interview to work on the new track he's producing for Luxy's popular Friday night Sabbatical series. Suave, controlled and collected, his Dj style much reflects his personality. The music he likes to play is deep and soulful, lyrical house music. He's noticed that the crowd at Luxy responds to a techy sound so he's made some compromises to his performances and the track he is now working on, giving his beats a little more synth and electro feel than usual. He shows me what he's got, still in developmental phases. Hunched over the lap top, he tweaks some loops, changes some values -suspense- his piercing blue eyes burn with anticipation, nails biting, hoping to get just the right sound.
Justin discovered his love for house and electronic music back in the rave days of the mid 90's in Los Angeles when he was in high school. Like so many caught up in that scene, he would do anything he could to get to the party, stopping at nothing whether it meant sneaking out or stealing the family car. After becoming well known in the rave scene, sometimes even playing three gigs in a night, Justin made the move to the night clubs and started playing for a more mature crowd and focusing on house music.
"I started feeling irresponsible, playing for groups of drugged out teen-agers. I had grown out of the whole scene." He remembers being 19, underage, and booked to play at a swanky LA night club, flanked by 2 security guards at all times. "They even followed me to the washroom even to make sure I didn't drink anything!" [He laughs]
Justin has been delivering week after week of solid, grooving, deep and soulful house music, a refreshing change to the electro, tech or progressive sound so often heard in the Onyx room. When asked about the house scene in LA he tells me that "The house music culture is blowing up. Even the break-dancing kids come out to the parties [...] these kids have their own fashion sense and dance style. I want to bring some of that over here next time I play, maybe bring some dancers with me, or have someone teach some classes. I know that the scene is still a bit new in Taipei but I have faith that it will progress."
Like most savvy djs, Justin realized that he could only go so far in his career simply spinning records. "I was getting to where I wanted to be in terms of being recognized as a Dj, but it was only happening in the West Coast. I realized that to get more recognition I had to take things to the next level and start producing." So that's exactly what he did. After lots of hard work, 4 years later, Justin is now managing his record label, Hermosa Records. Several of his tracks are available overseas and now getting international play by top house like Djs Miguel Miggs, and even Kaskade, whom he has collaborated with in the past.
Justin is ambitious with his label; he wants to try to have something released at least every 2 months. His current single is called, "You Don't Have To", featuring vocalist Jason Lent. Watch out for the Richard Earnshaw dub, it will keep you grooving all night long with its catchy lyrics and deep aching soul.
Justin is definitely one to watch out for and Taipei is lucky to have him. Also, be on the look out for a possible exclusive one night Taipei performance featuring his label mate Balage on the guitar, a drummer and a vocalist. Justin's music is available for download online at www.traxsource.com, www.dancerecords.com or your local record shop. As well, don't forget to check out his label site at www.hermosarecordings.com.