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Have you ever been at a party and disagreed with every song selection the DJ was making? Ever dreamed of hitting the turntables yourself and making the room bounce? PR Maven Claudine DeSola wants to give you that chance at her newly launched party called Spun, where spin-master wannabes get a basic DJ tutorial and the rare chance to pick their own playlist.
Niteside grabbed a moment with Claudine at The Foundation in the Lower East Side where Spun is hosted from 9 p.m. to midnight. There, we chatted with the host about where the idea came from, the first mistake young DJs make and how everyone in Manhattan secretly wants to dance to Justin Bieber’s “Baby, Baby.”
Where did the idea come from? Well, when Foundation opened they really wanted some unique events happening during the week. It was a good idea because you really need to do interesting programming, especially in the Lower East Side, to stand out. I have so many friends who are DJs that I thought it might be fun to host a sort of karaoke night but for DJing. I fleshed the idea out with Robbie Bellon, whose opinion I really respect. We came up with a night where people get to take turns at the tables where I teach them how to spin. Many don’t really understand how much is involved with it, but there are a lot of people out there excited to learn.
What have been a few of the great moments from Spun already? We had a really great turnout last time, and I would say that 30 percent of the crowd came truly prepared and really wanted to learn. Some of them had some fantastic playlists and were listening to everything that I told them. If you come in with that attitude there is potential to really walk away with something. Then we had this group of girls come in who were obviously there to just to play around. They were drinking, posing with the headphones on and taking pictures. They probably just wanted to post pictures that made it look like they were DJing a party in the city. We welcome those kinds of people too.
What’s your biggest piece of advice for wannabe DJs? I think that if you really want to learn then pay attention. The great thing about this party versus trying to learn on your own is you have a real Manhattan crowd at the lesson with you. It’s instant gratification. Whether they like the song or not you have that feedback, which is invaluable. You get a real sense of what works and what doesn’t work.
What’s the biggest mistake that amateur DJs usually make? Everybody immediately wants to know how [to] scratch. It’s like wanting to run before you know how to walk. First you need to understand how to drop the beat and transition from song to song. I don’t blame them; when you think of DJing you immediately think about scratching. It’s just what we’ve been taught and have seen.
Who do you admire as a DJ and why? I have a lot of favorite DJs. My favorite house DJ is probably Paul Oakenfold. ... If I’m talking about local New York DJs Jesse Marco comes to mind. Also DJ Cassidy, he is amazing at what he does and has a completely original technique. Of course, there is Mark Ronson, who also does great mixes. On a personal level, I truly admire Josh Madden, who is a friend of mine. I like him because the music he finds is truly interesting. He has such a huge inventory and he seems to find new bands before they're cool. He’s a DJ who will introduce you to your next favorite band -- it’s not just about what you’re hearing on the radio and who’s playing at Coachella.
What was one of the coolest parties that you have DJed? I really love spinning at Fashion Week events. This year I did one in New York that had around 1800 people. Fabulous and a bunch of other people were there, it’s always fun with that kind of crowd there.
How did you start DJing? I always wanted to play an instrument -- mostly drums -- but I don’t have room for a kit. So many of my friends are DJs [that] I realized I’d be foolish not to take advantage of that knowledge pool. They started teaching me and helped me really build up my iTunes library.
Some of your favorite tunes to play right now? I prefer going by what artists I’m into than particular songs. I mean, I have to say New Order. I also like a mix up of Freelance Whales and The Drums. Right now, I love Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeros. I play their song “Home” a lot. Kesha’s songs are always requested so you have to have those ready. I’ll also slip some Cobra Starship, Passion Pit and Hot Chip in when I can. Then there is Justin Bieber. I mean, it’s a phenomenon that you can’t deny. When I was at that Fashion Week event I had “Baby, Baby” cued up and all the dudes in the booth with me started saying, “You can’t play that.” Josh (Madden) was there with me and he said, “Do it.” I played the song and the room went crazy -- the girls loved it and I to say that I saw most the guys on the dance floor singing along.
What the best venue to spin at right now? Right now, I’m really having fun at The Foundation. Sky Room in TImes Square Marriott is going to open soon and it’s going to be one the highest rooftops in Manhattan. It was designed by the same architect as the Gansevoort Hotel and it has a great vibe, I look forward to playing there. Paris is one of the most amazing places to work especially during Fashion Week. My dream is to DJ the Karl Lagerfeld party during Paris Fashion Week.