DJ Joe Gauthreaux is a DJís DJ, consistently forging a path through a diverse musical landscape and guiding dancefloors all over the country through peaks and valleys of soulful funk, progressive rhythms, tribal drums, disco house, and melodic, driving trance.
A set with Joe Gauthreaux is an excursion into uncharted territory, never the same adventure twice. ďLife is a journey,Ē Gauthreaux says, and, much like his DJ sets, ďit is intriguing, emotional, and unpredictable.Ē
Gauthreaux debuted on the decks in 1996, quickly earning resident status at Oz in New Orleans. His music and his reputation traveled quickly, and it wasnít long before he was traveling regularly, to spin at career-making events such as Black & Blue in Montreal, Winter Party in Miami, and the Saint-at-Large Black Party.
In 2002, Centaur Records offered Gauthreaux his first CD compilation, Party Groove: Blue Ball, which was followed by Party Groove: Cherry Volume 2 in 2005. His newest compilation, Winter Party 2008, is on Masterbeat, and he works as a reporter for Billboard Magazine.
Gauthreaux attributes his consistency to thorough preparation and a meticulous addiction to seeking out new music. His tastes reach far and wide, and heís known for having keen instincts when it comes to both music selection and his career.
In 2003, Gauthreaux took a leap of faith and packed it all in to move from New Orleans to New York City. The gamble paid off within a year, with gigs at iconic New York City venues like Roxy, Avalon, Pacha, and Fire Islandís Pavilion. He continues to travel, making regular appearances in New Orleans, Chicago, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Atlanta.
Most recently, Gauthreaux played for the Palm Spring White Partyís Sunday T Dance, commanding a huge outdoor dancefloor as well as a musical retrospective that spanned the partyís 20-year history. This weekend, San Francisco will get a much more intimate feel for Gauthreauxís unique style, when he takes over the decks at Industry and spins some new material heís been working on in the studio.
Do you consider yourself more of a DJ or a remixer?
Iím definitely a DJ. I started out DJing like 12 years ago, and Iíve been a DJ a lot longer than Iíve been doing anything else. Lately I have been focusing my energy on producing my own stuff, but itís taken me a little while to feel comfortable with that.
Whatís it like to be able to mix tracks into your live sets that youíve produced yourself?
I definitely like to play songs people know, because I want people to be able to relate to the music Iím playing, but I also really like adding my own brand of stuff.
I like to sound different, and right now is the most different Iíve ever sounded, because half the stuff Iím playing, itís stuff that only Iím playing.
Youíve described your sets as a journey into uncharted territory. What kinds of things influence the path you ultimately end up taking?
Mostly, itís the crowdís energy, and the pace of the night. How much time I take to go from A to Z depends on how many people Iím playing for, and how fast or slow they seem to want the night to go.
I also respond to how enthused the crowd is. I never go in with a preconceived notion. I come prepared with ideas in my head, and things Iíve just worked on, but I never have a set list.
DJing is a very spontaneous art form. Even if I might have a list in my head, the crowd might be ready for something else, and then all the plans go out the window.
What do you personally like to hear on the dancefloor?
Thereís so many different layers to my taste, really. I like all kinds of dance music. I like a banging tribal track, but I also like the Freemasons and Moto Blanco, so my tastes run the gamut. I like to hear stuff I know on the dancefloor, but maybe with a new spin on it.
Hearing a song you know can bring you right back to a moment in time, like who you were dating at the time, what was significant then, what you were doing then. Sometimes itís things you almost forgot about, and then you hear the song and itís like youíre there again. I know it sounds corny, but itís very powerful the way a song can touch you, which is why I love my job so much.
Your skill set is definitely diverse. For example, not many DJs are sought after by both the White Party and the Black Party.
I definitely think I have the luxury of not being pigeonholed, which works for me. I think people know me as a fun DJ, and Iím very lucky that I get to do all kinds of parties.
I definitely have different sections in my music for different kinds of parties, but I always bring everything, just in case. I want to be prepared. I prepared a lot for the White Party and really looked forward to it. Since it was the 20th anniversary, I got to pull out a few classics, and got to take a trip down memory lane.
The Black party was a big honor to play also. I was very nervous going in, knowing all the history behind The Saint, but the response was overwhelming and amazing. I was the third DJ, coming on at 10am, and thought I was just an afterthought. But with those parties, thatís when all the hard core people are just getting going!
The thing is, whether itís a happy, fun T dance or an afterhours gig, it still can be fun. Like, at a T dance, Iíll play a handful of anthems, but I wonít play anthems all night. And afterhours, it doesnít have to be this dark drone all night. Itís a balance. At the end of the day, you want the crowd to have fun. As the DJ, youíre not there to be a schoolteacher and bang people over the head.
Was it hard to adapt to New York City coming from New Orleans? Did your sound change?
You know, the big thing you always hear is that the West Coast likes it fluffy, and that New York likes it hard. Thatís the biggest bunch of bullshit!
Where Iím at has very little to do with what I play. I play for the crowd. I donít like the crowd to judge me, and I give them the same courtesy.
How would you describe your signature sound?
I think Iíve managed to stay relevant because I wasnít known for a certain sound. Iíve always had a specific sound that I liked, but I canít really put my finger on it, I just hear a record and think, ďOh, this is me.Ē
Basically, the record has to go somewhere. When I hear a new song, I think ďDoes this record do something? Does it have something fun? Does it have a hook?Ē
A lot of DJs right now are playing electro. Itís not really for me, but Iíd be lying if said there werenít a couple of records that make it into my set, because it seems to be a hot sound right now. Generally, I feel pretty secure in my sounds, and Iím willing to try things.
You have the same manager as DJ Tony Moran. Has he been an influence when it comes to your personal style?
Tony Moran is a friend of mine, and heís been a mentor when it comes to remixing and producing. Being in the studio myself, now, Iím realizing how talented he really is, and how much it really takes to make a mix.
I also share the same manager as Susan Morabito and Phil B, and we all have a lot in common. We can relate to one another. But having DJ friends is also a double-edged sword. Itís friendly competition, but itís still competition. Weíre all up for the same gigs.
What should your San Francisco audience be listening for on Saturday night?
Iíll definitely be bringing a lot of stuff Iíve done on my own. Right now Iím really excited about my remix of Jai Ho, from the Slumdog Millionaire movie. And since Iíve been making my own tracks lately, Iíve got a ton of my own private edits to play, songs like RuPaulís Cover Girl, which is currently on the Billboard chart, and some other stuff from Bimbo Jones, Frenchie Davis, and Amber Dirks.
I donít know exactly what Iíll play on Saturday, but San Francisco should be prepared to have fun!