You can’t help it. You leave state and everyone gawks. No, no booger in your nose. Is it your high top Dunks? Your blow-out? Your puma-like walking pace?
Whatever it is about you, it’s decidedly New York. And you can’t escape it. That’s why at the Winter Music Conference you share dance space with the same people, attend the same parties, at the same places. (The following can be combined for all plausible possibilities: Danny Tenaglia, marathon, Space Terrace, Victor Calderone, Boris, Surfcomber, Shelbourne.)
But hold on. These names are at the very end of a long line of local NYC DJs-- Exacta and Merritt, Sleepy & Boo, Tedd Patterson, Cevin Fisher-- who’s local residencies have led to (inter)national success.
Below is a list of the top 5 upcoming New York City DJs. Support your local scene and go see them while they still play for free before midnight.
1. Michael Anthony
Prophetic even in name, Michael Anthony sees himself as “herding an eclectic mix of wolves of sheep.” Revolutionary and brash, he explains how he got into house music; “I thought it was fascinating how some DJs just made the crowd straight up blow them for hours on end. I kind of thought to myself, wow, I want a crowd to blow me too. Then, it all kind of meshed together.” (Sex, music and Michael Anthony).
Influenced by many DJs, Michael Anthony also cites producers Roger Sanchez (from way back), Basement Jaxx, The Advent, Samuel L. Session and Dennis Ferrer. In case you couldn’t tell, his sound is “very hard, in your face.” Creating tracks with “seamless rhythms which accumulate psychotic amounts of energy over time as to have the power to detonate a small vehicle” has paid off; Michael Anthony’s productions have been played by big-room DJs like Boris and Danny Tenaglia. Such recognition is the ultimate high, “otherwise this would just be some kind of nomadic hobby,” he explains. “It keeps the drive alive.”
Michael Anthony’s raw attitude conveys the best bass element you can hear: heart. He clarifies his moniker, "The Unknown Artist," by returning to his beginning metaphor: "If one wants to be recognized and not stuck among the mass herds of sheep, they need quick escapes throughout the pastures, maybe a bush hidden as a trap door to get you to where the new feed was just placed."
In 2006, when his friend Rebecca (owner of HouseNY.com) took him to Crobar for Victor Calderone, the decision to DJ was almost a done deal. Deeply inspired, Rizzi (who’s first name is Daniel) made Crobar his second home and started to pay attention.
“I saw how music can bring so many people together,” he says, “It really moved me to see how one person’s artistic expression can have that kind of impact on such a diverse crowd.” After seeing how much Daniel enjoyed jumping on the decks at a friends house, Rebecca took matters into her own hands and made the executive decision to purchase some CDJs and a mixer. “ ‘Get to work!’ she told me,” Daniel laughs.
Although Victor sounds much different than he did in 2006, Daniel continues to be inspired by him, along with the “chuggy techno” sound of Danny Tenaglia. “You can’t be from NY and not mention Danny Tenaglia,” says Daniel. Coupled with a love for the funky, soulfulness of Quentin Harris, these influences have created a versatile DJ who describes his sound as “techy but with a soul.” (Just like your pet robot.)
Rizzi has rocked the basement of Pacha NYC on multiple occasions, providing that dirtiness the regulars love. This past month, Rizzi debuted in Pacha’s “funky room,” spinning sleazy beats that far surpassed the headlining talent who played downstairs. He also has opened for Superchumbo at Dream in the Hamptons.
3. Steven Cox Jr.
You weren’t sure if you could take this young kid seriously after his friends posted “Weiner” photo of him on the toilet at Winter Music Conference two years ago. And you still are sure if you can take him seriously because he plays mostly in New Jersey. But, Steven, who started out DJing at Sweet 16s and baby showers has proved that he can hold his own in New York City, spinning at Water Taxi Beach, Pacha, M2, Green House’s after hours and even last year’s Black and White Festival at Governor’s Island.
Just like The Martinez Brothers, who he’ll play alongside on July 2nd at Merge in Seaside Heights (click here if you’re willing--and know what it means-- to venture DTS), Steven’s main influences include his father, who introduced him to the likes of Louie Vega and Erick Morillo. “Dude was a great DJ in his day,” Steven says, “ and can probably still hang with the big boys with straight vinyl.”
A DJ that “plays for the crowd,” Steven’s brings an energy and personality to the decks that has lead to a large local following. He describes his sound as a mixture of deep house and deep tech, “and a bunch of other sounds.” Not afraid to throw a cheesy vocal from a pop song over a track, Steven says he gets “goosebumps” when its just “an acapella over a heavy bass line.”
Ah, house music, 20-somethings and goosebumps.
4. Terry Nova
Speaking of goosebumps, Halloween anybody? Three years ago, this young man wore a Jabberwocky mask and showed the dance circle how it was done to Danny Tenaglia. Now, 2011 is destined to be one of the biggest years of his career. Teaming up with Damien Ford & Mike Riley, Terry has joined Shackarone Entertainment, a company that manages local DJs who really want to “preserve real house music.” (If only Shackarone could preserve faces of those who listen to the music... Now that’s something fit for Halloween.)
Jokes aside, Shackarone may be on to something, staying true to the fundamentals of house music at a time when other DJs are jumping on the abrasive electro trend and deafening the ears and scrunching the faces of those who have been venturing out of their caves since antiquity, (better known as the Sound Factory era.) Terry Nova himself is not a stranger to other genres of music; “I remember one of the first records I bought was Busta Rhymes’ Put your Hands Where my Eyes Can See,” he says. Inspired to “cut up records like DJ Qbert” (who won America’s Best DJ contest last year), Terry would practice on his Numark Battle Pack for hours. Years later, in 2005 while attending SUNY Albany, Terry’s friend introduced him to house music on a whole different level than “that Sound Factory type techno.” Before he knew it, the club lifestyle and music became his addition; “every day was filled with making new sets and perfecting the art of the mix,” Terry explains. Soon, he was so in love with the music, he started cutting class for long weekends at Pacha. (Don’t shake your head, we’ve all been there.)
Terry began to school himself in the craft of DJing, and today takes conscious consideration in the various elements that compose a DJ set. “Progression,” he names as the first ingredient that goes into the making a perfect set. Humility and humbleness is next: “The point is set to set the mood, not to outshine the headlining DJ,” Terry recognizes. Track selection and mixing finalize the DJ recipe for Terry, but most importantly is soul. Terry's motto: “If there’s no soul, then there’s no vibe, no feeling, no purpose.”
Check out Terry Nova on the decks (and the dance floor) Sunday, July 3rd, on the rooftop of the Castlebraid, Brooklyn. For more party information, click here.
5. J. Dee
On a slightly different club circuit than the previous artists, J. Dee, better known as Joao Daniel spins "high heel house," the kind loved by the beautiful, bottle service crowd, the kind of crowd where you have to watch your girlfriend very, very carefully. (Or, better yet, leave her at home).
Starting out as a VIP host at Pink Elephant in 2008 Joao Daniel’s crazy antics, good looks, and lively vibe soon landed him a front door spot at Juliet Supper Club. Last year, Terry Casey from Le Royale gifted Joao two turntables and a mixer, knowing that Joao’s passion for music and innate knowledge of energy-building aurals would create a fantastic DJ. From there, Joao was hooked.
Inspired by Laidback Luke, Beny Benassi, Chuckie and the other mainstream nightclub Djs, Joao’s sound is progressive with lots of vocals. He believes that “people need music in their lives,” and always tries to take the crowd to the point where they feel like they are going to “explode, 100% high energy all the time.”
Currently, Joao works a VIP Host at the prestigious 1 Oak. Recent DJ events include Nikki Beach Brunch in Midtown and Ravel Rooftop’s Sunday Sunset Sessions, the ground of other local talents, Jason Ojeda and Steve Amoroso.