This little piece has been a few months in the making. Not because it is a spectacular piece of writing and not because it is an epic tale. Just because life, work and the flu got all up in our faces and we have only just managed to get it together…
A few months ago I caught up with one of Australian House Music’s unsung heros, DJ Chico to do a quick interview. He was nice enough to let me in on a few of his secrets from the early days of legal graffiti walls, his time with Redbull and Gold Coast Clubbing.
How long have you been a DJ?
Approximately 14 years.
What made you want to work in the music industry?
I always wanted to, especially hip-hop. I love to scratch. Dance music wasn’t in my life till my early 20’s. I thought it was monotonous robot music stuck on repeat. Until one day I heard a track that featured Method Man, “Who got the Funk” by the Funk Junkeez who were on the Strictly Rhythm label. It blew me away and that was it… Dance music has been around ever since.
What has been your favorite gig out of all the gigs you’ve played?
It would have to be a toss up between a Black Flys Sunglasses Party or the Redbull Adventjah Rave at the Brisbane showground’s. The Redbull gig was pretty much the first Dance party i’d ever played. I remember having a huge record bag for that show. I did an 8 hour set and had the whole warehouse all to myself. I remember playing every single track I owned at the time. My hardest track at the time was called Block Party which I finished my set with. I remember Paul “Hurricane” Briggs stepped in and played for an hour using my tracks to give me a break. We had a few turntablists rostered to play but when the first DJ cleared my floor they cancelled the rest and kept me on. By the end of my set I had the whole warehouse packed and screaming for more. That night there must have been about 5-6 different warehouses playing at the same time with international DJ’s on rotate doing 1.5 – 2 hour sets. That night was such a buzz I then went straight to the Biscuit Bar one of the Gold Coast’s original “Day Clubs” to do a 4 hour set.
What was the best gig you’ve been to?
Hmm, tough one. I haven’t been to many because I was either working at the clubs, radio show or dance parties so it pretty much left me no time to do anything. Guns and Roses were awesome.
What have you noticed about the music and the club scene since you started playing?
Well… Every second person is a DJ now for starters. Back in the day we used to look at a DJ who used CD’s as an amateur, it’s a lot harder to do with records. You have to learn to read tracks by looking at the vinyl. Now only turntablist’s use them. Also back then you would have to go record shopping to look for bombs and there would only be limited copies of each track unless it was commercial. So basically how you mixed, what tracks you played and when you played them in my opinion, would differentiate each DJ. It seems to be more about how many people you have on Facebook these days, which is sad. It should be how many people you can bring in to the club. And to be honest the DJ’s these days do nothing for me. Having said that I played with Chardy at Summerfields and he rocked. I really liked the energy in his choice of tracks. I also played with Tom Piper at the Bedroom and Ben Kelly with Nancy Vice at Twenty1 and they rocked it and I had a ball.
Is there lots of work available for aspiring DJ’s?
To be honest I really wouldn’t know. I haven’t dropped a promo into the clubs in at least 9 years now.
What can you tell us about your early involvement with Redbull?
Well, I did all their gigs basically for about 5 years till I had a few years break. We did dance parties for uni’s, and wherever Redbull Queensland wanted to expose their brand name. They were fairly new when I first jumped on board with them. The last time I played for them it was a few years back at Summerfieldz with a lot of DJ’s on the Redbull line up. Chardy was on before me and I waited for a while to smash the floor. I played for 30 mins and was getting right into it till I was shut down because we had idiot climbing the tent and getting out of control.
You were involved in the Sydney Graffiti/ Bomber Scene. Care to divulge any information?
Yeah I tagged everything at the time. I did street legals in kings cross for a cd launch as well as a few in QLD. We used to be around 20 lads and a couple of girl writers called “Muffins” and “Trey” who loved to rap freestyle but was new to it. Now she is a big star in the hip hop genre for AUSTRALIA. She still raps about graff till this day. We would hang out regularly and occasionally on weekends we’d hang out in The city on Oxford Street near the Exchange Niteclub but mainly hang out in Parramatta where we were pretty much based from. My brother was in a crew called RBS [Rebels] and I was in TSC [The Sexual Cream] which I think Kem jokingly made up and that originated in Strathfield , Burwood area. But my crew I loved most was WL [West Liners] created by Old Schooler “Roske” one nite when we were partying one nite up at his house on the west line between Toongabbie and Blacktown which we pretty much ruled. We had a close relationship with the transit cops . it was a love hate relationship… we loved hating them, especially one in particular which we nick named “Moonface” he and his division knew all of us by name and all they did was try to catch us with cans or ink but very rarely did they succeed.
What inspires your art and style?
I haven’t done any graff for at least 8 years but am keen to get right into it again. I used to put my headphones with rap blasting through the speakers, losing myself while I drew outlines. Bit hard to do any of that with children and a busy lifestyle.
No, not at all. Last legal I did was approximately 10 or more years ago at the Tuxan paint Factory in Brisbane which was one of our favourite cans we used because of their colour range.
How long have you been on the Gold Coast?
I’ve been in QLD for approximately 19 years now. On the Gold Coast for approximately 15-16 years. I love the place.
What do you like about the Gold Coast? What keeps you here?
I’d have to say at first I really loved it because coppers would actually say hi to me rather than search me and harass me. Haha. I tried going to Sydney for a holiday to see my brother and a few mates a few years back… I hated it. I still got harassed by coppers but this time on push bikes in Parramatta. The people were rude and short and with plenty of attitude. By then I was to used to the friendly, laid back lifestyles of the Gold Coast, which I believe is slowly changing.
Your Heritage is Bolivian. Did it have an influence on you growing up?
Not really, Where I grew up I was pretty much one of the few ethnics or “WOGS” as they would say. I hated being called that and remember fighting because they called me that as early as primary school and through high school. Till Ricky Martin and J-Lo hit the charts hahaha. Times are way different now.
Where did your DJ name come from?
I’ve used Chico since my bombing days and used it throughout my DJing career.
Are you working on getting back into graffing, painting or writing at all?
At the moment I plan to get back into drawing. Been hard to use a pen or pencil since I started designing on the computer for the last 15 years. But that definitely coming back slowly into my life. I still talk to Roske [Old Schooler from WL] and occasionally a few others.
My passion is music and DJing but not as a resident for dickhead club owners. I am heading towards producing my own music and remixing. I still have my radio show on radio metro 105.7 on Saturday morning 4-5am. Who knows you might see me in the future at a dance event… Hopefully versing the Stafford brothers! I would love to challenge them. Or have a face off with Dynasty from the Family Nighclub in the Valley. Bloody facebook whores/show ponies. That’s the writer coming out of me.
What matters most to me is my beautiful family. I have a gorgeous partner Felicity. I hope to make her my wife. And my 4 kids. 2 are older Kyle 18 and Shanelle 16. And the other 2 special people in my life, my little princess Caprice, 9. And last but not least my little baby boy who keeps me on my toes Alejandro, nearly 5.
So there you have it. A few wise words from someone that definitely knows what’s up! Keep your eyes out for DJ Chico on the Gold Coast and catch his Radio Metro show between 4 and 5am on Saturdays.
Peace and Love
*The graffiti photos are from the Blacktown Wall of Fame where crew could paint whatever they wanted, legally. Both were done by Chico and crew.