Interviews

DJ Flipside (of Jumpsmokers)

Boasting an ongoing library of original productions and remixes for artists like Far East Movement, Katy Perry and Pitbull, Jump Smokers can please a crowd, no doubt. Whether performing as a whole or playing DJ sets, the Chicago-based crew builds off the radio and EDM worlds to make any audience jump.

During a chat with DJ Flipside about how he works a room and what it’s like to do a remix, he also noted the benefits of working in both the nightlife and radio worlds. Outside the club, Flipside reaches 3 million people through Chicago radio, playing “Flipside At Five” on week days and street mixes on weekends.

What’s the biggest difference between you playing a DJ set versus Jump Smokers performing as a whole?
The main thing is the vocalist isn’t with me, so he doesn’t rap and do the whole performance part. I’ve been DJ’ing since 1993 so it’s another way for us to showcase our sound and for me to DJ,

“When I play places where the people have fun and wanna get down, I love it. It’s my favorite way to get down that way.”

Which non-Jump Smokers tracks get the best reactions when played?
It really depends on the crowd. If I play “Call Me Maybe,” they go crazy. But there are certain times that will not work, so I’ll play something like a Calvin Harris or Afrojack track. I’m a big fan of music – there are hip hop records that work, there are trap records that work – it really depends on the crowd. There’s a trap remix of “Mercy,” that I love and there’s a trap remix of Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me A River” that’s awesome. I just love music and love playing for a crowd that loves music. I do a bootleg version of “Call me Maybe” on top of Calvin Harris’ “Feel So Close” and it works amazing. I come from a radio world too; I’m on radio in Chicago, so I understand the EDM world and the radio world. That’s how Jump Smokers works – we understand the radio and the dance worlds.

What are you favorite Jump Smokers remixes?
It’s hard to pick, we’ve done over 70, almost 80 remixes. But:

  • Mariah Carey – H.A.T.E.U.
  • Pitbull – International Love
  • Kim Sozzi – Rated R
How did you get into DJ’ing?
I’ve been DJ’ing since I was 13 years old, and I used to break. When we’d do shows, I had to edit the tape. I started mixing with cassette tapes, then turntables. I started doing mixes, and in high school, I was doing the dances and any party I could do. It was all a love of music. Being in Chicago, you have legends like Bad Boy Bill on the radio and you get influenced by that. I’m so lucky to be from the city where house music was born.

If you were to go home right now and listen to music, what would you be -listening to?
Sometimes I listen to R&B/Soul, but sometimes I listen to underground Chicago funky disco house. It all depends on my mood. I’ll listen to other peoples’ podcasts like Nicky Romero and Hardwell; I love to see what other people are doing.

If you could play a DJ set with any artist, who would it be?
I’d love to do big-time festivals with someone like Avicii, Hardwell or Nicky Romero. I’d love to play for the crowd at a big massive venue where you can play an 8-minute house record and the crowd loves every second of it.

“You have a job to do, so you have to satisfy the people who hire you, knowing what you want to do. The thing that helps is that we’re DJs; we are in the clubs, we see what works and what doesn’t, so we think about the club and the radio when producing our sets. Part of the reason people hire us for a remix is so they can get the extra spin on radio and also get club plays.”
      -Flipside on making a remix
You guys have been in the scene and doing this for a while. With the way music’s been shifting genres, do you believe the EDM scene is saturated right now?
I’d say a lot of people are starting to get into dance music, but the people who love dance music know where to go. They know who to listen to, what’s actually good music and what’s coming out… and not just because EDM is hot.

With such constant changes in the scene, do you think it’s harder for you guys as producers and DJs to come up with new tracks to fit certain styles?
It depends if you’re referring to original material or remixes. When you get remixes, you’re given a vocal and keys to work with, so you have to make that work. With original material, you can do whatever you want; we can go as crazy as we want because it’s what is representing us.

What would you say is the most challenging part of being a DJ/producer?
Flight layovers. My flight was delayed four hours today…. but if you’re a DJ, you do it because you love it. When you’re producing, you do it because you love music. You do it because you want to go out and do shows, you want to travel, you want people to hear your music. As a group, we feel so lucky to be embraced by DJs who support us.

 “DJs are the ones who let people who don’t know, know.”
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