Reunion in the Amigo Room

Words and Interview by Jack Kohler

Walking into the Amigo Room at the boutique Ace Hotel, gem of Palm Springs, I was greeted by the warm aroma of food, drink, and a dimly lit, comfortable setting to share some words with friends at the end of a long desert day. But that wasn’t all that was in store for the evening, a performance by our valleys’ own DJ Day and Thes One of People Under the Stairs was the highlight of the night.

After some introductions, I found that Thes’s parents lived in the valley and he’d heard that DJ Day was doing the same thing he was, something that not many in the world are involved in, so they had to link up. Thes has music festivals such as Bonnaroo, famed Coachellafest, and Lollapalooza on the horizon, and both have worked with pro skaters like PJ Ladd, Paul Rodriguez, and Rob Dyrdek.

JK: So Day, since you’re native to the valley, could you describe the scene here when you first started out?

DJD: Yeah, there was already a scene, older cats like Ellis, Top Dollar, Dollar Bill, and all these other dudes that had their groups, Darren and Fonso, there was alot of people already doing their thing in the late 80s early 90s, and then I was gravitating towards djing and kind of linked up on the scratch like DJ Tip cause I don’t really rap or anything like that, but yeah I just tried to keep the life of that whole thing going to the next generation.

Asking Thes the same question about his startup in Los Angeles, he answered;

TO: I mean, me and Double K came out the same way, we started rapping out of necessity, cause we made music before we did anything, so we had this hatred towards MCs (laughs), as like a breed, and we hated MCs ,so we were making beats, but MCs were like this necessary evil, and we just didn’t want to deal with them, in general MCs were dudes that mistreated Djs like Day or producers like myself and they were just kind of egotistical, they didn’t care about the music, they didn’t care about anything except for their rhymes, we figured we might not be the best MCs, but lets start a group so that we don’t have to deal with MCs, so we just started rapping over our beats, and I think that’s why me or Day or Double K, we all get along where music comes first before hip hop or whatever, it’s just about music.

Curious about what brought them to the Amigo room, I asked why they were in the valley tonight;

DJD: I mean obviously, Thes is out here to rock here at Reunion at the Ace Hotel and I’m here just staying alive. (laughs)

JK: What is the Reunion?

DJD: Reunion’s the name of the night we have every Thursday here at the Amigo Room, it’s basically like myself holding it down like always and bringing guests like once or twice a month, it’s just getting off the ground so we’re kind of like feeling how we’re approaching this whole thing but the vibe is here.

I started to get a picture of what they were up to in our valleys’ backyard, I understood what Thes and DJ Day were gearing towards, creating a homebase for their craft, “creatures of context, making music for the stuff they know.”

JK: Were you satisfied with your performance at Coachella last year?

TO: Yeah, I mean, I’m pretty critical of myself, I’ve spent my whole life pretty much doubting or being really hypercritical of everything I do, but I think that’s probably what’s kept me going, cause I always feel like there’s another show, I didn’t get done with Coachella and feel like “Well that’s it, I’m done, I fucking rocked that shit!” I felt like damn, ok, how can I do Bonnaroo, how can I do better, how can I do Lollapalooza this year which we’re very close to booking, so like, there’s always something better, always something bigger, we live like underground artists, it’s not like we can ever rest, it’s not like we’re Will.I.Am, highest downloaded artist on Itunes of all time.

JK: I was saving that for later, but earlier I was talking about the valleys’ growth, how do you feel the mainstream world is accepting live dj performances as opposed to overplayed, radio friendly artists?

TO: I mean, again, it’s a loaded question, I’m not trying to slight Will in any way shape or form but I think that the fact that Day, who’s an artist that I respect aside from all this stuff, just from a dude that I’ve seen in a room get down on turntables and do his thing and through remixes he’s done for me and other people, the fact that he’s getting a job to play at a place like the Ace Hotel where ten years ago, an underground artist might’ve been at odds with a boutique hotel, now it’s kind of like we’re all working together, I think it’s dope, this isn’t the Ritz Carlton, it’s the Ace Hotel, and they’re a like minded hotel, they’re doing a like minded thing where young people are trying to be artistic and do our thing, I mean, I think the fact that this night exists is a testament to where things are at.

JK: Would you guys rather be touring or playing locally for the community?

DJD: Ideally I’d like to do both, like go out and spread the word of this community to the people outside of here and then come back home, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to do that to some degree.

TO: I’d rather be here, I’ve seen it all, I don’t give a shit, I’ve done it all, I don’t care.

JK: How many months out of the year do you spend on the run?

DJD: This last year, was definitely, combined…months? Months plural, like I don’t even know how many altogether to be honest with you. Ask thes, ask this fool.

TO: Well I’ve been tuning it down cause I’ve got kids now but there were definitely years where we spent more months away than at home, but I think more importantly than the amount of time is the music that we make, stuff we make, people feel it all over the world, but people don’t get it all over the world. A lot of it is rooted in the context of the day to day life that we’re living, so people feel it, they want to dance to it, party to it, drink to it, and that’s great, they can pay us to come out to Japan and do it, but it means more when we’re performing it, I know Day, I might be overstepping here, but I know for me, it means more to do the LA song from OST, in LA, then it does in Japan, or it does in Africa, even though it’s great to be there, it means more when the dudes in LA are singing along to this shit about LA, when I do “San Francisco Knights” in San Francisco, it means more than when I’m doing it in Germany, and that’s cause we’re creatures of context, we make music for the stuff we know.

JK: Do you think there’s a need for more venues in the valley?

DJD: I guess depending on what kind of music, I heard JDees closed which is really a sad situation, especially cause that to me is the next generation and the next level of true cutting-edge, like gonna shake the future type shit that was going on in the valley, but yeah there’s Space 120, there’s a bunch of good venues opening and that are out, I guess depending on the music you can always use a good home for it.

JK: How does it feel performing in your hometown again, after all these years?

DJD: It feels good man, especially when I come back from being gone for a while and playing for the first time, there’s always a great turnout, a lot of love from folks here and I always try to put this place on the map wherever I go, representing for this valley.

TO: Do you know anyone else who does that?

DJD: A lot of people are embarrassed, they’d be like “Say you’re from LA, or from Riverside, and I’m like fuck that, I’m from here.”

JK: Any last words for aspiring performers out there?

DJD: You know what, be yourself dude, honestly everyone’s trying to be different by being like everybody else, I’m gonna be a rebel and dress like so and so without paying attention, basically be true to yourself, do what you love, trust your gut and your instincts, try to express yourself in whatever you’re doing, dancing, djing, art, whatever it is, keep that connection, that honest connection with yourself, open to everybody.

TO: Like he said, dig deep and find out what it is that’s you, and bring that forward to the table, whether it’s embarrassing or you think it’s not cool, whatever it is, the greatest success stories in this art have been people who repped themselves, whether it was Beck, or RunDMC, they rep their family and there’s a lot of dudes on the net, one day they’re doing one thing and the next day they’re the hot jerking producer and they’re like 35 it’s like, yo fam, that’s not you, do you, rep you to the end, and then you can sleep well at night.

After some goodbyes and thanks, the two went on to play a set full of fluid beats backed by jazzy melodies that captured the vibe of the room and set the tone for the rest of the night. Make your way over to the Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel on Thursdays for TNT, taco and tequila specials and the best in jazz, soul, and funk on turntables this side of the coast.

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