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Gatekeepers #1: Stuntman

A gatekeeper is a person who controls access to something. As a newspaper editor I am a gatekeeper, I help decide what people see in this paper on a weekly basis. In the same way, DJs and music promoters are gatekeepers. When you go out to a bar or check out live music, it’s at the discretion of someone who decided that the music you hear pumping from the P.A. system is the music you should hear. If you go out to your favorite bar, for instance DBGB’s on a Saturday night, there will usually be a DJ spinning music while people socialize, dance, get hammered etc.. That DJ has access to lots of music—sometimes unreleased tracks that aren’t available to the public— and they choose to play specific music, usually something that caters to a certain genre, but most certainly something they enjoy. In this column I’ll interview Buffalo’s Gatekeepers, the people who tell you what’s hot, what’s new, what is important to listen to, but most of all what’s best. This week I interviewed Stuntman, resident dubstep DJ at DBGB’s in Allentown.

Photo by Nate Peracciny

What type of music do you play and why?

I play Dubstep and UK 2-Step Garage. I love the physical aspect of the tunes when they’re played on a huge soundsystem with massive subwoofers. I love the atmosphere it creates in the room, and the drum patterns of UK Garage. I also love the minimalism, which lends itself to a very fun mixing style. I also love the culture and community that surrounds the sound.

How did you get into DJing?

I moved to New York City in 2008 where I went to school to study Music and Studio Engineering. I started going to a party called Dub War NYC at a venue called Love, and this is where I got into dubstep. When I moved back to Buffalo there wasn’t a lot of dubstep being played out on big soundsystems like the one at Love. I wanted to help expose the sound so while going to school at Buffalo State I started a dubstep radio show on 91.3FM, and it all kinda started there. I started to DJ because I felt like I had to. Nobody in Buffalo, except Big Basha and Mario B were playing the sound I wanted to hear on big soundsystems.

How do you choose the tracks that you play at a club? Does it differ from club to club?

As a local DJ, my goal is to compliment the sound of whoever is headlining. Playing at a bar or pub is a little different from a dedicated music venue like Soundlab because not everyone is there for the music, and the bar doesn’t want people to be turned off by music that is too introspective or abrasive, so it definitely varies from gig to gig and venue to venue. I’m more into music as art over music as dance music though, so its more fun for me when I can play music that’s on a deeper level.

How often do you mix in new tracks?

I love to mix fast to keep my set moving. I’ll mix in new tunes every one to three minutes, but sometimes the crowd needs time to breath. It really depends on the crowd and if I can find the next track I want to play fast enough. If it’s earlier in the night, I might let something ride out longer.

Do you feel any pressure to play certain types of tracks?

For sure. I feel like a lot of people only see dubstep as this robotic wobble sound. If you’re a person who doesn’t like that sound and you don’t know about any other (dubstep) sounds you won’t come out to the club. I’m left with people who only like that electro-wobble sound, so I feel pressured to play hype party-style dubstep for sure, although that’s not really what I want to hear at the club. I do like the hard midrange wobble sound, but more-so in the car, not the bar. I’m more into the organic, analog, old-school synth sounds and samples than the modern electro sound. It’s like the difference between old-school hiphop and new-school club hiphop.

What kind of reaction do you like to see from a crowd when you drop in a new track?

It’s nice when people yell out if they like it because most of the time I’m just feeding off the energy of their movement. If it’s something really big or exclusive I’ll rewind it and start it from the top to make sure they know whats going down.

How do you find new music for your sets?

I spend a lot of time on the internet. I’ll talk directly with producers and labels who sometimes send me pre-release music. Dubstep as a culture was built on playing unreleased tracks and I work really hard to be able to do that in Buffalo. It’s nice to bring the underground sound of London here. It’s what is being played in the clubs in Europe but is still unreleased to the public, so I have to dig around to find ways to show the producers that I’ll respect their tracks and that I won’t leak them to the internet. It is very much about international community.

Top 3 tracks of the moment for you?

As far as tunes that I own:

Von D ft Phephe – Your’re the One (forthcoming on Boka Records)

Odessa ft. Rufio Summer – I Still (unreleased)

Manaboo – Delinquent (Immerse Records)

Stuntman will spin some tunes this Saturday (March 26) at Soundlab when the Luvstep Tour, featuring Dirty South Joe & Flufftronix passes through. More info here.

cory perla


  • medison

    thank you artvoice for the stance. keep ‘gatekeepers’ a regular thing.