Why do DJs make up pseudonyms, rather than use their given name?
“Hiding behind an alias is a fun and elusive feeling,” says local studio DJ Snaps Provolone (not his real name). “Making up a name allows us to roam free as artists and jump into projects and live vicariously through new alter egos. Aliases induce a sense of mystery.”
Provolone founded the San Diego DJ-themed Crypticon record label in 2001, having previously worked with Suburban Noize Records and the Kottonmouth Kings. “I encourage all Crypticon artists to pick funny names. For instance, anyone who wanted a beat on the Italian Smoke Squad album had to have a mobster name.”
The 34-year-old — who graduated from UCSD in 1994 with a BA in multimedia production — declines to provide his real name for print. “It helps build a puzzle, like Bruce Wayne and Batman. I literally have 20 other names for myself, and most have been used in print for something or other. It [a pseudonym] also helps protect me and my family, in case I get crazy on an album or project.”
As for the ongoing debate over DJs creating “new” works from unauthorized song samples, “Call it an homage or a shout-out or simply a mutation of the original-source sound. Things like bootlegging are wrong to me. The direct reproduction of a work for sale is not a good thing, but appropriation and sampling is one of the key ingredients to great hip-hop music.
“The question of DJ originality has haunted the movement since its inception. However, each sound is carefully chosen, manipulated, created, defined, oscillated, transformed, pushed, distorted, echoed, gated, and flanged for the best tone for its given intent. The rearranging qualifies as a new creation.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR CD PLAYER?
1) Tom Waits, Blood Money. “If you haven’t tried to get into this musical madman, then it’s your local duty to do so, as this creative creature hails from and occasionally lurks about San Diego.”
2) Tech N9ne, K.O.D. “Tech is an independent mastermind, and the 808 kick drums bang so hard on this album.”
3) Psychopathic Rydas, Ryden Dirtay. “They jacked some of the greatest hip-hop beats, made them even better, and rapped over them.”
4) Kottonmouth Kings, Long Live the Kings. “I like to keep up with these guys and that bumpin’ stoner-core style.”
5) Tool, Undertow. “All of Tool’s music is dynamic, original, and so sonically deep that you crave more.”
A CD YOU WERE TOO EMBARRASSED TO MENTION?
“The Medicine Man soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith would probably get me teased on the playground. It’s very much a concept album that keeps you immersed in the sounds of a jungle rainforest.”
THREE FAVORITE CONCERTS?
1) “Any one of the carnival shows from Insane Clown Posse is memorable — an epic-sounding circus of horror-core music, with truly mind-blowing beats and crazy Juggalo energy everywhere.”
2) “At the Grateful Dead, I had the privilege of walking around the parking lot with people hollering at me in surround sound.”
3) “Who could forget Cinderella, Winger, and Bulletboys in Detroit back in the late ’80s? Take that, Mötley Crüe and Faster Pussycat show!”
1) Drudgereport.com. “My daily portal to the federal network.”
2) Dailyrotten.com. “This day in history and today’s stories, with a cool spiderlink system that opens the world to you as you peel it back.”
3) Dailymail.co.uk. “The British take on the news of the world, with tons of front-page stories and a clean interface.”
ANY RECURRING DREAMS?
“I do have a dream about creating a live stage band. I’m looking for a Chuck E. Cheese to go out of business, so I can buy up all their freaky musical robots and then assemble them on stages in new costumes. With this musical-robot army, I could program each one to play the instrument of my choice, and the Cyborg Symphony would begin!”
TWO THINGS WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT YOU?
1) “I like falling asleep to sci-fi movies with cool soundtracks that project soft colors on the walls: Star Wars, Star Trek, Spaceballs, Independence Day, Galaxy Quest, Outland, Battlefield Earth. Somewhere, Duncan Shepherd just cried a single tear.”
2) “I was in an extremely crappy band in middle school called the Deviants that covered bad songs and had a single called ‘Prune Juice.’”
IF THE MUSIC BIZ COLLAPSES, WHAT’S YOUR FALLBACK GIG?
“I’d like to have some of my original scientific theories taken seriously and published. For example, how leprechauns were really alien ‘little green men’ mining gold on Earth, only to be misinterpreted by drunken Irish storytellers.”■