Occupation Producer, DJ, Co-Founder Let's Play House
Hometown Washington D.C.
Current Residence Williamsburg, NY
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I was born in Washington, D.C. and grew up in the Maryland suburbs, so I was surrounded by a lot of different cultures. It’s an international city much like New York. My parents always had classical music on the radio so my first instrument was the violin and then I discovered jazz, which led me to pick up the trumpet. As a teenager, I was into the D.C. punk scene and all about what was happening with that. I had guitars, basses, drums, mics and recording equipment in my basement rehearsal space. After a few years of being in bands that were not really going anywhere, I got into DJing and producing on my own and the rest is history. I’ve been hooked ever since.
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE IN NYC?
I did my undergrad in Chicago and moved to Williamsburg after and have not lived anywhere else since. Kinda strange, I know, but because I’ve been here for almost 20 years, it feels like we’ve grown up together through all the changes. I found my nook in the Southside, which still remains a bit quieter than the distractions elsewhere, so it’s always felt like home. But I certainly don’t just stay in my neighborhood, I need to branch out like anyone else.
WHAT WOULD THE TITLE OF YOUR AUTOBIOGRAPHY BE?
WHAT CAN’T YOU TRAVEL WITHOUT AND WHY?
My backpack has become my sidekick and I laugh about it because it was a staple growing up. And, after a brief hiatus in the ’90s, I still find it to be the most comfortable way to travel. It makes me worry and stress free with all my essentials handy, even though sometimes I feel like I’m on my way to fifth period.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TRAVEL DESTINATION? WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
I travel a lot for work, but it’s not often that I can stay somewhere long enough to properly visit and take it all in. Over the years, I’ve learned to stick around a bit to hang with friends in places like London, Berlin, and Melbourne, to name a few. I’ve based myself in Vienna the most so it’s sort of my home away from home, but I would say Tokyo is one of my favorite destinations to explore simply because I enjoy traveling around Japan so much. It’s still a country where I discover new things every time I visit and am always planning my next trip the moment I’m back. Some of the best people, parties, and food in that country.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANTS? WHAT DO YOU ORDER?
I live dangerously close to Marlow & Sons and Diner, so I can’t go too long without a Diner burger. There’s obviously a ton of places that have opened over the years that are great but it’s still probably the only restaurant I go back to time and time again. And I don’t always get the burger; if I’m up for a gamble, I know they’ll have a tasty special on the menu.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE LATE-NIGHT HANGOUTS IN NYC?
Personal favorites are Achilles Heel in Greenpoint for a tea or a drink and essential small bites or Donna nearby with rotating refreshing cocktails and tacos if you’re hungry. The ambiance combined with the staff makes these places so inviting and warm that you’ll lose track of time and enjoy your night out.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNDER-THE-RADAR MUST-DO RECOMMENDATIONS FOR NYC VISITORS?
My favorite suggestion for people visiting New York is to take the East River Ferry anywhere; easily the best $2.75 you can spend, with views and a breeze that never gets old. You can grab it from Wall Street or Midtown and go to Williamsburg, DUMBO, even Red Hook, which is something I like to do on a Sunday afternoon for fun. Totally worth it.
WHAT MUSIC ARE YOU LISTENING TO THESE DAYS? WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE MUSICIANS?
I’ve been listening to a lot of jazz and classic funk/R&B. Since my radar is set for new producers and DJs in my genre, I take breaks going through my own records rediscovering old gems or forgotten 12” that need to be played out again. We all need some disconnected “off” time to get lost in what we already have, and don’t necessarily need to always be on the lookout for the next thing.
WHEN YOU THINK OF NYC, ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR MEMORIES OR EMOTIONS THAT IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND?
I’ve been reminiscing a bit about the glory days of going out in the early 2000s in the East Village and L.E.S [to spots] like Lit, The Hole and the basement at Tribeca Grand, actually. For me, that was a particularly unique time in music and NYC nightlife that I’ll never forget.
PHOTOGRAPHY Masa Takai