MUSIC: Q&A with Aaron Dae
POPSICLES AND AFTERNOON DELIGHTS: Q&A WITH AARON DAE
Razor & Tape A&R/Label Manager Aaron Dae knows a little something about putting a smile on partygoers faces after more than 15 years of DJing across the country and throwing some of the most carefree and funky events such as “Do You Wanna Boogie?,” “Sundae” and the widely popular “Afternoon Delight.” He learned his lessons the old-school way on the turntables of friends at those “after-after-after hours” and he didn’t hesitate taking the initiative when necessary and applying a little DIY to the mix. Dae looks forward to a bright and busy summer ahead with gigs in Bulgaria and this fall in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. But, as he tells Tania Fuentez Media in this interview, home is where the heart is.
NOTE: All photos courtesy of Aaron Dae and Kristine Pawloski (except those by Tania Fuentez Media)
TFM: Summer’s right around the corner. What do you have lined up?
Well, this summer seems to be shaping up pretty nicely. During the end of June into July, I’ll be in Bulgaria to play a two-day beach festival called Sozopol Fest (https://www.facebook.com/Sozopol.Fest) alongside Black Coffee & Bucie, Tortured Soul, DJ Spinna plus a whole bunch more amazing artists. I’ll be in Bulgaria for about 14 days and will probably do one or two more gigs as well. Also this summer on 7/21 and 8/12, we have the L.A. edition of Afternoon Delight (https://www.facebook.com/afternoondelightofficial) taking place at our new home: The Standard Hotel Rooftop & Pool in Downtown L.A. We’re currently working on the line-ups and I’ll be out there for one of the two dates this summer. The last couple things are a show on June 1st in NYC where I’ll be opening for Doc Martin and a date for SOUP (https://www.facebook.com/groups/soupnyc/) at their new home Tammany Hall. Aside from that, I’m currently working on an NYC version of our Do You Wanna Boogie? (https://www.facebook.com/doyouwannaboogieofficial) event which takes place annually at Winter Music Conference in Miami. I’m actually going to look at the venue today so cross your fingers! We’ll also be doing DYWB? for the second year this October at Mi Casa Es Su Casa in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico.
TFM: You’ve made a name for yourself with the successfully popular Philly party, Afternoon Delight. How did that come about with DJ Dirty? What insights have you gained from such collaborations?
AN ‘INCLUSIVE VIBE’ AND DIY
I’ve known Dirty since we were both teenagers here on the East Coast. We met at raves throughout the area and somehow always managed to stay in touch and eventually lived together in Philly. We’ve known Adam for quite a while now too and he also lived in Philly/Baltimore at the time. I don’t really remember how we got the idea to start Afternoon Delight (LOL), but I do remember that I really wanted to have a local ice cream shop sponsor the event, give away ice cream at the party and do die-cut flyers in the shape of ice cream cones. It turned out we couldn’t find anyone willing to sponsor us so we just went DIY and bought a bunch of boxes of Popsicles from Publix and were very blessed to have Brooks at Acidflyers.com sponsor the printing of our die-cut flyers in the shape of Popsicles. Haha!
As for insights from AD, I guess I’d say that you really need to stay true to your vision and concept for an event/brand. We started this event seven years ago initially at the Marlin with Rob Paine and Willyum of The Shakedown and had maybe 350 people over the course of a very long day/night. Our numbers have grown considerably to about 1,500 people, but I think we have always remained tried and true to our original concept for the event/brand: Outdoors, Sunshine, Popsicles, a great line-up of very talented House music artists, and an inclusive vibe for all our patrons. What I mean by an “inclusive vibe” is to engage the people at our events on multiple levels. Adam, Dirty and myself wouldn’t be caught dead sitting on stage or behind a DJ booth all-day long. We are usually one of the first people on the dance-floor and one of the last ones off! In addition, the DJ booth is always at ground level. Dancers and DJ become one and can really connect. Everyone is on equal footing at our events. It doesn’t matter if you are Timmy Regisford or Miguel Migs, because everyone is on the same level. No VIP areas or anything like that which allows everyone to just vibe out next to each other. It’s a pretty cool experience and I think that’s really the most important bit of insight I’ve gained from AD over the years.
TFM: How long have you been DJing and how do you keep things fresh?
I have to have been playing now for over 15 years. Geez, I am getting old! Haha … I didn’t have my own equipment in the early days, but I still always went to Satellite Records, Liquid Sky, Dance Tracks, Sonic Groove, etc., to buy records. I would just play my records at friends’ houses who had turntables. In those days, we typically ended up at an after- after-after hours at someone’s house who had equipment and records. I would always gravitate to the DJ setup and ask if I could play their music. I didn’t care if it was Drum & Bass, Techno, House, Breakbeats, Trance or even Happy Hardcore! I just wanted to play music. Years later, whilst living in Philly, I finally got my own equipment and began playing out about a year later.
TFM: Disco classics are always hot, but what can DJs do to avoid overkill?
Hahaha… This is a funny question to me because in the past couple years I’ve really grown to love and play so much old Disco and 80s Boogie joints. This is really the basis for the “Do You Wanna Boogie?” events I do with Dirty and our third partner DEL (https://www.facebook.com/delmix). I think if this is the premise of the event then that’s fine, but there needs to be some balance overall in the events you produce as well as attend plus embracing what is new (because there is a TON of new great music out there) and not getting stuck solely in the past. I’m sure at some point I’d even get bored just going to “classics” events, but it’s like they say “too much of one thing is never good” so …
TFM: Best advice you ever got in this business.
I think the best bit of advice I’ve been given has to be that you should never change who you are regardless of how much success you have in this industry. People always remember how you come across to them and people always talk, so I’d much rather be remembered as a nice down-to-earth person than a person that used to be cool and became a jerk along the way. Also, you never know who you will meet and who that person might be so it always pays to keep a level head no matter what.