I went to Ruby’s in the basement of Clementine with a few friends last Thursday, just in time to catch a performance by DJ Neals Barkley. Clementine has always been a favorite of mine, but I have to say I’m becoming a fan of their new addition, Ruby’s. The basement bar feels more intimate than most venues, with dim lighting, exposed wooden beams, and rugs covering the floor (well… other than the dance floor). The menu offers bar staples like burgers, barbeque, and wings. And although I’m a vegetarian, my roommate assures me that Ruby’s buffalo sauce is the way to go.
The beats included alternative chart-toppers like Gotye and Santogold, hip-hop both new and old (compliments of Biggie and Kellis), and of course, a timely Whitney Houston tribute. This is just a taste of the eclectic mix of tracks that pump through Harrisonburg after dark. Almost any night of the week, you can catch a local DJ show somewhere in downtown Harrisonburg.
Whether it be at The Artful Dodger, Blue Nile, Beyond, Clementine, or Ruby’s, the DJ scene is alive and well in downtown. These guys have most likely provided the soundtrack to many of your nights out, so I thought it would be interesting to catch up with DJ Neals Barkley and DJ Fayo, co-creators of No Requests.
How did you get into DJ-ing?
[Fayo] “I got into DJ-ing when I was in school at JMU in 2006. I started because I wanted to go to parties with my friends, but got sick of having way too many superficial conversations screamed over loud, terrible music. So I started bringing my iPod to these parties and would ask if I could play some of my own music. Eventually I grew to love the ability to create an atmosphere through music and gradually bought myself a professional DJ set-up and went from there… I now have residencies on Wednesday at the Dodger, Friday at Beyond, and Saturday at Blue Nile.”
[Barkley] “I got into DJ-ing just how most anyone would get into anything musical, just having a love for music and some free time on their hands. The best thing about DJ-ing is that there’s no ‘How to’ book you can read, no formal training courses you can take. You can’t go down to the local music shop and pay the old guy with a ponytail behind the counter $20 a week to teach you how to beatmatch. It’s all trial and error, which makes it so much fun…no two DJs are the same.”
Who would you say are your biggest musical influences?
[Fayo] “Growing up, my parents were music nuts and were always introducing me to music from their youth. My dad introduced me to the ‘harder’ stuff (compared to my mother’s taste) from his childhood in Belgium, especially Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Police, The Clash, early U2, Dire Straits, as well as more contemporary stuff like Nirvana. My mom introduced me to more pop-oriented stuff like The Beach Boys, The Beatles, The Monkees, The Mamas and the Papas, Queen, and David Bowie. At the same time, growing up in Charlottesville, I was always surrounded by a lot of local music. Now, my biggest musical influences come from hip-hop, house, techno, classic country, funk, and soul.”
[Barkley] “Musically, my biggest influence is Tom Waits. His musical catalog is so diverse and unique; it’s just completely unparalleled. The biggest influence on my DJ-ing would have to be Cosmo Baker, a New York-based DJ and producer. His technical skill, his passion for music, and his depth of knowledge are second to none. Day to day, those dudes have influenced me to keep it diverse and to keep playing what I love. The day it becomes a ‘job’ and not fun anymore is the day I go back to working at Carls Jr.”
Tell us about “No Requests” and what inspired you to begin it.
[Fayo] “No Requests stemmed from a desire that I, along with Neal Carter, had to produce a party where we could play whatever we wanted, mostly on the electronic spectrum, and have people trust us as selectors to guide them through a phenomenal night of music and to educate them about music they might not know much about. Along with that, we wanted a forum through which we could bring in bigger touring DJs and give them an event that could rival their shows in bigger cities and bigger venues.”
[Barkley] “(We) just wanted to create something that people in this town could be excited about, ourselves included, month to month. We wanted to start a party we could be proud of including music we loved but weren’t able to play out all the time. We marveled at these parties in Richmond and DC, like Nouveau Riche and Brain Drain, and thought there was no reason we couldn’t do something like that here.”
You can catch DJ Neals Barkley on Thursdays at Ruby’s and Fridays at the Blue Nile, and you can catch DJ Fayo on Saturdays at the Blue Nile. Check out DJ Neals Barkley on Facebook and Twitter, DJ Fayo on Facebook, and the No Requests Facebook page.
Katina Stevenson is the Promotions Intern for Spring 2012. She is a senior Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public Relations at James Madison University.