DJ URI DALAL SPEAKS
(URBAN) FLRT Magazine caught up with the native New York DJ, Producer and founder of the NYC DJ Alliance Uri Dalal to find out the cutting up!
COREY WASHINGTON: So how did it all begin?
URI DALAL: It all began way, way back in 1975 when my father Zion (Steven) Dallal opened his first record shop across from the Palladium on 14th Street and decided to become the Disco king of New York City. I was mesmerized with the Kiss – Alive! album that was released that year on Casablanca Records and followed anything that was released on that label afterward, Donna Summer, Love & Kisses, Village People, Parliament, etc. That, Elton John and that first Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band record ‘done me in’ as they say, lol. My Dad had a giant promotional poster of the cover of that album that took up an entire wall of his apartment on 12th Street that I would love to stare at while listening. He also bought my sister and I matching ‘kiddie’ record players and two copies of everything because we wouldn’t share lol! For fun I used to take her record player and mine and spend hours trying to make her Elton John’s Greatest Hits and mine play simultaneously for hours on end before I even knew what a DJ was or did. How’s that for destiny? After Kiss I took up the drums and have been a drummer/musician in bands for years and years before I started spinning professionally.
CW: What gave you that initial push to become a DJ?
UD: It wasn’t a choice or an option, it just was what I was meant to do, it’s in my blood from working at his record shop for years and years, I can’t really explain it. It’s second nature to me. I’ve always loved to make people happy through music. It’s my joy, there is no better feeling to me than looking out onto the dance floor and seeing people feeling music and reacting to it the same way I do. Seeing that is absolutely everything, it’s that special to me – more than words could ever describe.
CW: Out of all the tracks in your crate, which one never fails?
UD: Hmmmnnn…. well how about you come and take a listen for yourselves? Hopefully the suspense will bring you out and hear me play and we’ll discover the answer together! Feel free to ask me while I’m playing! Having said that, it’s kind of a hard question to answer. I have various gigs of all genres that I love and enjoy equally and in different ways, so it tends to vary from gig to gig and venue to venue. I hope that makes sense! BTW, Excellent question URBAN FLRT! I’m actually a bit torn on this and feel like I’m taking WAY too long trying to answer!
CW: How do you see the scene 5 years from now?
UD: Well hopefully things will change and the Festival ‘EDM’ or whatever you want to call that music – as long as it’s not HOUSE – thing will fade a bit. Some of it’s good. I like Deadmau5. I absolutely love Diplo’s music. That Azelia Banks album is amazing. The production fucking stellar. I guess I should thank that David Guetta person. He’s kind of like Tiesto where you know he knows what he’s doing because you have several amazing remixes he’s done but to cash in he does all that god awful cheesy euro house. Before him I was beating myself up night after night trying to trick people into listening to good music while combining House music with pop and they just weren’t getting it, weren’t seeing it or wouldn’t even give it a chance. Period. I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. There was no room for any creativity whatsoever. It was a bit discouraging. I couldn’t deviate from the way music was played on the radio, or turn people on to anything new or different which I kind of feel is a DJ’s job. All everyone wanted to hear was the same five songs they play on the radio and that’s it. Now, if you were doing parties that were not strictly House Music – that meant you were screwed! I think it’s crazy now that I get requests for House Music by the same people who would complain and say they couldn’t dance to it because they can’t tell where the songs end lol and can I please play something more upbeat like Biggie lol. Only problem is now they request House, I play House and they look at me like I’m nuts. Sorry, I don’t play Steve Aoki. THAT ISN’T HOUSE.
I love all music but if I had to play another hip hop song at 74 bpms (and remember dubstep had not hit here yet lol) I was going to go insane! Thanks to those awful Swedish guys and whatever that will-i-am or will-i-be person from the BEPs figured out we’ve got some fun dance-oriented pop out there that isn’t too terrible to play and not so pigeon-holed into a euro-formula that regular non-house heads here in NY can get with. I also love that the gay scene is more of a house-hold thing now, and it’s about time too! For a minute I got really down on my boys. I thought they were becoming just like straights and requesting only radio shit and Rihanna and Hip Hop (which all has it’s PLACE – I’m not saying I don’t like that music, I love it!). I was more used to the boys being extremely inventive and cutting edge – not copying what Beyonce was doing. They used to tell the bitch what to do! But then I met amazing talent like Elvis Nuñez, Kia Labeija and DJs like MikeQ that are completely redefining what music means to me and I absolutely love it. I would have cried if they kids didn’t start reinventing shit lol. Thats what I need! I love how everyone is down with everyone and I haven’t seen it like that since I first started clubbing back at the World on 1st street in the late 80′s where you had hard rock B-boys, Queens, Punks, Rastas, Straights all partying together because it was a family thing. We were fam. Now it pretty much is like that all over the world, isn’t it! Isn’t that what the Paradise Garage and Loft were all about? A great party where we could all be family. I think five years from now it’ll be even better. My hope is for everything to come full circle.
C: When you play is it a planned set?
U: Never. I never have any idea what I’m going to do at all at any party. I always have intentions on what I’m going to play and where I’m going to go, but throughout my entire career it never ever plays that way once the night starts.
C: So how is the scene in your eyes at the moment?
U: I think it’s brilliant. There are so many amazing things going on in NYC. In my humble opinion these are the hottest of scene-making people and places at the moment, starting with my monthly party ‘Warehouse’ that I do the first Wednesday of each month with the brilliant Danny ‘Buddah’ Morales at Attila Draviczki’s venue Keybar (E13th street in the East Village)! The venue is brilliant, the crowd is fantastic and loves dance music. You can’t beat 2 for 1 drinks and hot bartenders! Attila is a House Music DJ’s dream to play for, let alone work for. Not only is he a successful bar owner, his DJ skills are very impressive. His knowledge of music is unprecedented and after working in a record shop my whole life I thought that I knew a lot! He is unsuspectingly one of the nicest, most down to earth people I’ve ever met.
What can I say about Buddah that hasn’t been said a million times – the guy is a genius. It’s an honor to spin beside him.
I also should mention aside from us being the first Wednesday of every month, Keybar books a phenomenal House party every Wednesday all month long, from Sean McMahon’s ‘Digital Motion’ to Midnight Society’s ‘Mainframe’! Honestly if it wasn’t for Sean and his manager Ira Kushin I wouldn’t even know about Keybar or have been introduced to Roberto L. Alvarez of RAB Publicity. Thanks guys, but all of these parties wouldn’t even exist for me if it wasn’t for the brilliant Maria Dark. I am forever thankful for her acknowledgement and support of my remixes, and for having me guest DJ at her MDMA events. That woman is one of a kind and very dear to me. I’m so happy to even know her. She is a one of the all time greats.
I’ve joined another favorite DJ of mine at his after hours, Cleveland Skyers (that was OVAH OVAH OVAH!), and I cannot leave out Markko Donto’s ‘The Wolf Party’ at Le Souk. I have SO MUCH fun playing there with DJ Monikkr (Anthony Fonseca) who I have to thank for completely changing my mind about NYC’s next generation of DJ’s and opening my eyes to newer Electro/Dubstep tracks I was sleeping on! It really enabled me to take a much needed step into the future.
Funny thing is, the reason I checked out the Wolf Party in the first place was because the head promoter of the event is my great friend and long time event partner Michael de Guzman. For over ten years Michael has always been the magic man behind the NY music scene for me. I wouldn’t have a quarter of the success I’ve had if it wasn’t for him.
At one point I had the privilege of being resident DJ at his long running after hours party ‘Rockitronik’ at Club Remix near Ground Zero. That was my favorite party ever and I am so proud to have been a part of that. It was magic! It was so popular at one point that we got shut down for the line being out the door and down the block! Michael de Guzman has always been at the cutting edge of music and has always believed in me even when I didn’t. To work with him again would be a dream come true! He is someone who truly knows what they’re doing and does it right, properly and professionally. A lot of those Remix guys went on to help build that Girls & Boys thing at Webster Hall isn’t that amazing? I’m very happy for them and their continued success. I decided to go my own way – can’t really hang with that. I always want to tell them – DANCE! What the hell are you looking at me for? Is this a Heavy Metal show? Do I need to hire like some Rasta wannabe wearing sunglasses indoors to entertain them so I can work? I want to do complex shit not change the track every two seconds with some mashed up crap. Yawn!
C: What do you do outside of the dance music scene?
U: I’ve been dedicating a great deal of time to my drumming lately and I’m looking to start my own band. I would love to play with an artist like Lykke Li or Dragonette. I also do graphic design, flyers etc. and I’m learning how to design websites – which is why my djuridalal.com is down and under construction lol! I’m always trying to keep up with the latest technology and jump on the newest thing. I think I already mentioned that I produce music and do remixes.
C: What advice would you give to up and coming Dj’s?
U: Stay in school, do your homework and listen to your mother. Especially if it’s Mother Juan lololololol. I always get good advice from her. Other than that I say remain OPEN MINDED. Just because the technology makes it easy for you to play pre-recorded playlists taxed from the RA top 50 doesn’t mean you have to.
Learn your trade. It’s so much fun – make mistakes – who cares? Take chances! Listen. Learn. Take Notes.