Sometimes you get more than you ask for.
Last Friday, I put a note up on my Facebook and Twitter accounts asking Twin Cities DJs to send me their latest sets for possible inclusion in this column. Within an hour, a dozen links had landed in one inbox or another. (The easiest way to reach me, by the way, is to tweet to my attention: @matoswk75.)
That’s a lot to choose from, and a lot of the sets are worth the time and space it will take to spotlight properly. But first, I decided to play through the sets (only some of them so far—there’s a lot else to listen to still) in the order they arrived. And making things easier, the first set I received turned out to be one I’d have wanted to write about no matter what.
88project is the DJ alias of Gerardo Morado, who was born in Heroica Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico—a border town two hours from Monterrey—and now lives in Northeast Minneapolis. He began DJing at age 17 and is now 29 (born in, you guessed it, ’88). “I’ve played in several places here in Minneapolis—anywhere from Slam Factory to Communion,” he says. Morado has also put on events “here in Minneapolis, in Austin, Texas, and Monterrey, Mexico, featuring DJs like Lee Curtis, Droog, Leo Leal, Dave Seaman, Mejia, and Lee Burridge.”
As that list indicates, 88project’s home style is house music. “I like to play groove-oriented beats and just overall sexy music,” he says. “I really enjoy soulful, funk, and jazz-influenced rhythms. Like they always say, house music is a feeling.”
Funny—that sentiment came to mind not long after I hit play on 88project’s recent set, Soulties (November 8, 2017). For one thing, the opening cut is Theo Parrish’s “Ebonics,” which kicks off with some overheard jive talk on the way to a pumping, minimalist groove dotted by spooky organ chords. It sets the next hour’s mood—everything has a smoky, sepia-tone tint that’s mellow and easy on the ear but also hints at both deeper emotions and at house music’s gospel and R&B roots. And far from a Chicago or Detroit fest (Parrish grew up in the former and lives in the latter), several of 88project’s selections come from one producer in particular, Chris Stussy, who’s from the Netherlands.
The man behind 88project has a busy winter ahead of him. One week from today, on the 18th, he spins an all-vinyl set at the Conga Latin Bistro in Northeast Minneapolis, and on February 10, he appears downtown at Gamut Gallery. On March 16, he’ll be at Slam Academy’s Friday Night Slam Jam. If this set is an indication, he won’t precisely slam. But jam he will.
Are you a Twin Cities dance-music DJ? Michaelangelo Matos wants to hear your latest set. He writes about recent mixes by local DJs (and DJs making local appearances) every Thursday for City Pages. Tweet to his attention: @matoswk75.
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