In Conversation with Honey Brown, Oberlin DJ
DAMANI MCNEIL // SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
We had been playing Super Smash Bros Ultimate on switch for hours, and I still had absolutely no answers for Dani’s Lucina. As we passed blunts and exchanged combos, we started up a casual B2B DJ set from our phones, listening to everything from Carti leaks and footwork breakbeats, to deep house. Even doing something as innocuous as playing video games and blowing off some steam after class, I found myself realizing that the vastly different songs they chose came together naturally, creating the perfect blend of music for the occasion. This attention to detail and natural affinity for adjusting to the temperature of the room is something I’ve come to expect from Dani Miriti Pacheco, one of Oberlin’s most skilled DJs who performs at parties and venues across Ohio under the moniker Honey Brown. I sat down with them to ask some questions about the music that inspires them and how they approach DJing, in anticipation of their gig October 12th opening for Suzi Analogue and Amber London at the Sco.
D: I’m hella curious about how you prep for a show. How does Honey Brown get ready, and what do they think about on the stage?
H: Honestly prep will become a lifestyle. I wake up in the morning and I’m usually kinda groggy, and one of the things I like to do is try to find tracks. I’ll just wake up and go on Soundcloud and Youtube and go through all my recommended tracks, go through all the “so and so posted a new track” or radio and collect the tracks I like … In terms of performance, in the past I’ve always been interested in and have a kinda intense/complicated relationship with tempo switches in mixing when performing. Cause obviously there’s the art of beatmatching, and all of that, but then you also have to be where the audience is, and a tempo switch can be either where you lose of totally get the audience. [Tempo changing] is already such a chaotic thing, it’s like a wave within the ocean landscape of the mix.. You’re kinda trying to keep the beat steady, and you have this powerful force that’s coming in, and you have to balance out where it’s coming thru, where it’s loud, where it’s soft, where it’s coming and going, all of that…
D: Gotcha, gotcha. And personally you also blend a lot of different styles...
H: Yeah, and I’ve found that’s definitely complicated but something I like doing. I love to connect things you might not have thought of connecting before, and when you get down to the bare materials that make songs, you can make really interesting soundscapes as you mix things that probably have never been mixed together but are very clearly connected. I’m really into blending as a way of recontextualizing and creating a dialogue between a lot of different styles of music. I think there’s high levels of finesse to doing that, which is something that I’m working on.... Taking that perfect blend and then recording it into a track. Once you get a really good take of you blending and cutting it as you need be, you don’t have to do it every time… you can just save yourself some time and effort! And let yourself get some plays, eventually you know. It’s all about leaving a digital trail.
D: One of the other things I wanted to ask you about. You mix a lot of styles… I’m not tryna pigeonhole you into saying top 3 or top 5 or anything like that, but if you were to label your pool of influences, what would you say the genres you work with and are influenced by?
H: In any genre, it’s gonna be messy. Especially with mixing. But trap definitely influences me. Gqom, a contemporary form of house coming out of South Africa is really impactful. Footwork, clearly! Have to rep footwork, and Chicago tech-life… that’s one of the struggle ones because a lot of people don’t fuck with it… Honestly! Some people do, but it’s hard to tell… it’s a mixed bag but footwork is hard, I’ll rep that shit forever. Techno, clearly… That, plus Jersey club… Shit is heat! But there’s tons of other stuff I try to bring in that comes from my upbringing, like R&B and funk… That’s one thing I love about footwork, it’s a great way of recontextualizing R&B samples and music in general. That’s what I really wanna do, play R&B from the 80s and 90s like slow jams and shit but with some cold footwork drums under that? That shit gets me going!
D: That all definitely shines through in your mixes… Do you find that combining all those things leads to, or embraces, or is accompanied by a certain politics? Is there something about that combination that says something about you politically, or are they inherently political?
H: I think it is political. In some senses I feel that’s where genre becomes even more relevant because as much as they don’t really exist, certain artists and movements in music are heavily politicized in certain ways. Especially with trap and Gqom, those are things… I think all dance music is heavily connected to a living pulse… it’s what the people want, it represents what people are gonna cool off and chill too, I think that personal pleasure and enjoyment is intensely political. I often times try to speak to my own experiences and thoughts in my mixes. There was a reading I did for class about digital identity, and I think my mixes, more so than instagram or anything like that is one of the most creative ways for me to build creative identity. That is something also in the end, mostly gets kept track of by me cause I’m the only one that’s at all my sets, but I do put a lot of work into crafting a style and thematic content sonically, and with vocal samples and different tambral aspects, and that’s the broader vision. I wanna get back more to the politics though, I think that music and different forms of it have a way of bringing such a release, that I think it’s political because all emotions and actions in the current state are heavily politicized, but beyond the politics there’s this emotional release that kinda comes down to the balance between trying to perfect the craft of mixing and allowing that to work for my creativity, and also providing a good selection and energy so that people can have the release that they’re looking for. But as I craft my image I wanna be able to relate to people politically too.
You can see Honey Brown spin supporting Suzi Analogue and Amber London on the Sco on October 12th. In the meantime, check out the playlist Honey Brown curated during our interview below, or at https://theoberlingrape.tumblr.com/ under Arts and Culture!