DJ Donnie Lowe Doesn't "Consider the Stuff on the Radio Dance Music"
"When he finally understood that I was serious about learning how to spin records, he'd have me sit there for hours spinning the same two records for six hours." DJ Donnie Lowe says, explaining how he learned the craft from club veteran Matt Spector. Lowe taps his feet and leans his forearms onto his half of the table. "I guess he was making me do it until he felt like I wasn't going to train wreck."
Lowe says he learned the art of mixing records about five years ago -- one that seems to be disappearing from the house scene altogether these days.
"Mostly it was so that I didn't feel like I could just hop up there with a MacBook with the most recent top ten and just run it through," Lowe says. "Learning to beat match by ear instead of just seeing those stats on a screen is essential to the craft."
Now the resident DJ at Gryphon Nightclub at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Lowe understands the usefulness of certain programs and other digital attributes of creating an energy dense environment. He spent the last few years mixing with CDs, then moving on to USB drives. These days, he goes to work with two main tools -- a USB drive and a stack of records.
"All of those digital tools are pretty neat," Lowe admits. "Programs like Traktor that have effects and tools that line up your tracks are really useful, but when you're just trying to mix two records at a time like I do, they don't serve the same purpose."
Using records gives Lowe credibility, which makes him stand out amongst head-boppers and molly-poppers. A lot of people can put together a pretty playlist, but it takes a little more to reach legitimate DJ status.
"Not everyone spins vinyl," Lowe notes. "And you don't have to in order to be respected," he says charitably, "but it is a part of the art form. I am always on the hunt for records, searching for tracks that a lot of people either haven't heard in a while or have never heard."
Lowe believes in building sets that avoid all of those songs often heard on the radio, too, which just may be why the demands for his live sets are becoming increasingly more popular these days.
"If it makes me a music snob to say I don't consider the stuff on the radio dance music, then I guess I am a music snob," Lowe professes. "The listeners are just as responsible for it as the guy up there laying down tracks. I don't understand the partygoer that can hear the top 40 stuff all day at work or in the car and then want to go and dance to it on the weekends. No matter how it's mixed."