You'd be hard-pressed to find a local DJ with a musical taste as all-embracing as DJ Lowkey. After spinning for 20 years, nine of them spent in Albuquerque and five as the house DJ at Raw, Lowkey (aka Philip C. Pino) will get a chance to get back to his eclectic roots at Gulp on New Year's Eve, before taking a breather from the DJ biz.
What got you interested in DJ-ing?
I hate to admit it, but when I saw Saturday Night Fever as a kid I was impressed by the DJ's ability to move the crowd. When I worked at Raw, it was great to see people having what I call a "collective eargasm," where the whole crowd is moved at the same time once the song starts. That's a pretty amazing feeling.
Why did you leave Raw?
I just got kind of burnt out on all the misogyny and negativity in hip-hop. It was awesome to spin in front of huge crowds with lines that were 50 people deep, but when you're working every weekend for five years, it can wear on you.
What's gonna be different about the Gulp show?
It will be more intimate and beautiful. I'm looking forward to playing more than just hip-hop. I'll be spinning modern lounge, Bollywood, exotica, world beat, acid jazz, funk, some trip-hop and a little hip-hop. At midnight, I'm thinking I might play a Prince and Michael Jackson mash up so the girls can dance a little bit.
How did you get exposed to the different types of music you listen to?
I just have a huge ear for music. I love all music from opera to country to Hawaiian to punk rock. About the only thing I don't get into is death metal gurgling (laughs).
What don't people know about DJ-ing?
It takes skill and an ear for music. A lot of people think that it's just playing music. You've got to have an ear for tempos and harmonies and beats per minute and a real knowledge of music, as far as beat measures and sequencing. It's not as easy as it looks and DJs that make it look easy have a lot of experience.
Why is this your last gig for a while and what's next as far as your music career?
I'm going back to school and I'll be working full time, so that won't leave as much time for DJ-ing. I haven't run my course. I don't believe that. I just think that sometimes we have to step back to re-evaluate what's going on. When you're in the middle of it all it's kind of hard to realize that you need a break.