A GoPride Interview

DJ Jason Royce

DJ Jason Royce interview with ChicagoPride.com

Wed. May 16, 2007  by DJ Plez

DJ Jason Royce
Introducing DJ Jason Royce and The Retro Party

Over the memorial Day weekend on Saturday, May 26, Mary’s Attic at Hamburger Mary’s continues its interesting and eclectic blend of entertainment offerings with FLASHBACK: The 70s Disco & 80s Retro Dance Party featuring DJ Jason Royce of Washington, DC. (Event Details)

The 30 year old Royce is a resident DJ at Cobalt, one of DC’s most popular nightclubs, and he’s been named Best DJ in the nation’s capital two years running by the Washington Blade newspaper. He’s been spinning the very successful weekly Tuesday night retro-themed dance party at Cobalt for the past 5-1/2 years and is now taking his discofied show on the road this summer.

In light of Chicago’s relative unfamiliarity with Royce, we at ChicagoPride.com thought it a good idea to introduce him to you, our members, via the following interview that we recently conducted. If the personality that shines through in his interview answers translates to the DJ booth, then Royce and his Flashback Retro party are sure to be big hits here in the Windy City come Memorial Day weekend.

CP: Where are you from originally?

JR: I’m from Hagerstown in Western, MD. I moved to the DC area in '95 via Trailways and went to college at the University of Maryland to study Fire Science and Fire Protection Engineering.

CP: How many brothers and sisters do you have?

JR: One older brother (35) and one younger half-sister (16). So as far as my brother and I go, I was always the destructive, annoying, tag-a-long little brother.

CP: What was your favorite subject in high school?

JR: I had three favorite subjects: David, Jeremy and Randy. Boy the things I would have done. I was never really all that into school and did just enough to get by. The last two years of school was when I was coming to terms with my sexuality and basically I just needed to finish, get out, grow up and move on.

CP: Michael Jackson or Prince?

JR: Mr. Neverland and I have more in common than Prince, and although I like mine at least barely legal, I'll go with MJ.

CP: When did you first start DJing?

JR: In 2000 at Cobalt here in DC. I knew a couple of the guys who were involved with the re-opening of the club (it was closed 2 years prior because of a fire) and after I jokingly offered to DJ on Tuesday nights for their retro night they took me up on my offer. I spun the retro Tuesday nights at Cobalt for about a year and then decided I wanted to do current dance music. A few different genres and sounds later, I found myself playing more progressive/tribal/vocal/electro house stuff on rotating Saturdays at Cobalt. I still do every Tuesday of course which is still the hugely popular retro night.

CP: Where are you DJing now?

JR: In addition to Tuesdays and Saturdays at Cobalt, I'm doing my Flashback retro party once a month in York, PA at Club XS.

CP: Which three DJs have influenced you the most in your development?

JR: Danny Tenaglia, former Cobalt resident Angelo Kortez, and Darryl Strickland who is another DC DJ.

I also have huge love for Billy Carroll.

CP: What has been the highlight DJing moment of your career?

JR: I think every time I play is a highlight. I know it sounds cliché to say it, but that’s the truth. I have been very lucky and fortunate to have been offered the gigs I've gotten seeing how there are a million DJs in the world. I really go into every night with that attitude. I'm focused on trying to help people have a great time, period. I'm not a wannabe trying to be the next so and so and I don't have a box of gimmicks. I'm just doing my thing, staying happy, having fun and looking forward to the next thing.

CP: What is your full-time job?

JR: I am the Assistant manager of Cobalt / 30 Degrees in DC. I take care of the advertising, marketing, entertainment and DJ bookings, planning and scheduling events and promotions, staff hiring and scheduling.

CP: Boxers, briefs, or commando?

JR: Briefs and boxer briefs. I have a drawer of probably 100 or so to be exact.

CP: Your favorite color?

JR: Blue. Especially eyes.

CP: What’s your favorite Madonna song of all-time?

JR: Who? ::chuckles:: I've always been fond of “Borderline.”

CP: Who’s your favorite remixer/producer at the moment?

JR: I'm starting to get turned on to Dirty South's stuff.

I've always really enjoyed Offer Nissim, Paulo and Peter Rauhofer's stuff.

Jose Spinnin' Cortes and Hector Fonseca's stuff has also been a-ok in my book.

CP: Your favorite Disco track?

JR: Hands down: “Don't Leave Me This Way” by Thelma Houston.

CP: What’s your favorite snack food?

JR: Do boys count? Get back to me on this one.

CP: What’s the last movie you saw in a movie theater?

JR: “Grindhouse.”

If the end of that movie didn't make you stand up and shout "You Go Girl!" you can't be human!

CP: Aretha Franklin or Diana Ross?

JR: Aretha.

CP: What was your favorite dance track of the past year or so?

JR: I'm not sure I had one single favorite.

CP: What’s your favorite comfort food?

JR: Anything Italian and anything chicken. Do boys count? Get back to me on this one, too.

CP: Pre-crack Whitney Houston or post-“Glitter” Mariah Carey?

JR: Pre or post anything, those bitches are just craaaaaaazy!

CP: Who typically attends your weekly Retro parties in DC?

JR: It’s a very cool and fun mix with an age range of 21 to 40. Some have no clue as to who sings some of the stuff I play, but they somehow know the lyrics and sing along no matter how cheesy or campy the song might be. Others grew up on what I play and know the songs very well. It’s great to have both groups digging the same music at the same time.

CP: How do you typically program your Retro parties?

JR: I do it song by song on a whim by what I know mixes well together, what works for the dancefloor and what’s fun. I tend to do blocks of things like disco, some freestyle, old school rap, fun party songs and even some stuff that should have NEVER been written let alone recorded. I'm all over the place but consistent. There are a lot of familiar things I play every week or every other week or so, but I really love dusting off and playing certain songs every now and then that always make people scream. I love when people scream.

CP: How do you make each week fresh?

JR: 5-1/2 years of doing retro hasn't really gotten old or boring for me because every week I get different responses to different songs. Sure, there is always Madonna to pack the floor, but sometimes people just don’t respond and could care less about her. I play the big hits like Mickey, 99 Luftballons and YMCA, but I do a lot of things to amuse myself actually and to test the waters to get a response. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. That’s what I love about my retro nights.

CP: Erasure or Depeche Mode?

JR: Erasure.

CP: Beer or a cocktail?

JR: Beer icky, cocktail goood. Disaronna sour. I now also have a new thing for fruit caipirinhas.

CP: Are you single or in a relationship?

JR: Officially single and frustrated.

CP: U2 & Bono or The Police & Sting?

JR: Neither. All American Rejects & Tyson Ritter.

CP: As you take your Retro Party on the road where will you be spinning this summer?

JR: In addition to Mary’s Attic, I’ll be in Baltimore during their Pride week in mid-June and am working on arranging playdates soon in Philly and Phoenix. I'd love to hit up a West Coast, Atlanta, Houston or Denver dance floor as well. I'd be tickled because I'd love to visit those cities!

As far as other gigs that aren't retro, I'll be spinning the Cherry Party in DC this year at the main event on Saturday, June 9. I'll be back in P-Town this summer for my 3rd season on Friday, August 31. I'm working on gigs in a few other cities as well which I have my fingers crossed for, but nothing is confirmed at this point.

You can find out more about Jason at his website (www.djjasonroyce.com) and on his MySpace page (www.myspace.com/djjasonroyce). He appears at Mary’s Attic at Hamburger Mary’s, 5400 N. Clark Street, on Saturday, May 26, 2007 at 9 pm.

Interviewed by DJ Plez