Circuit Chat - DJ Joe Gauthreaux

JoeGauthreaux1 An Interview with DJ Joe Gauthreaux
by John McHugh-Dennis

Joe Gauthreaux recently made his debut at Steven K's POWER, and we caught up with him the night before to find out what makes this New Orleans boy tick.

He's every bit as cute in person as in the pictures, and if his warm smile and genuine personality are any indication of what all those Southern boys are like, you can put me on the next train!

Joe gave us some insight into his style, and his thoughts on some of the parties in his neighborhood (Gay Days, Austin's Meltdown and Perfect Day, Hotlanta) and more.

Is he single? Read on!

John:

Is this your first time in L.A.?

Joe:

Yes. I did a party in Palm Springs over New Year's, which consisted of a lot of Los Angeles boys, and I did a party in San Diego in February. Those were my 2 Southern California gigs; this is my first time spinning and coming to Los Angeles.

John:

I was just curious if you have any first impressions of L.A., but it's probably too soon.

Joe:

Yeh, it's a little too soon. I like it so far. Nice weather this weekend!

John:

What's the weather like in New Orleans right now?

Joe:

It was about 92 when I left, and it was 102 in Arizona, where my lay-over was, so it's a nice change.

John:

So what's the accent? Is that New Orleans I hear?

Joe:

Do I have one?

John:

Yes, you definitely do.

Joe:

If you think I have an accent, you should hear some of the other people where I come from! Mine's pretty tame.

John:

Did you grow up in New Orleans?

Joe:

Yes. Well, I was born in New Orleans, but I grew up in a small town outside of New Orleans.

John:

You've played some pretty impressive cities, but this is your L.A. debut. I'm curious how you hooked up with Steven K., and how that whole thing came about.

Joe:

I think the party that I did through J.T. for New Year's weekend had something to do with it; Steven and J.T. were friends. I think Steven also heard me in New Orleans, and he was impressed with my music. He called me one day and said he wanted me to spin for him in San Diego. The party I spun at was at 4th and B., and it was a really big success. It was a big space to fill, and a Friday night at that. I was leery; I didn't want my San Diego debut to be a dud. It was a very fun party - I trusted him in San Diego, so I went ahead with Los Angeles.

John:

When you play here in L.A., do you plan to play any differently than you do in New Orleans?

Joe:

My normal gig at Oz, which is my normal Saturday night residency, I'm used to playing for a very diverse crowd; not circuit boys. They'll always be some of those boys in the crowd when I play, but New Orleans is more of a drinking city, which prepares you more for playing in other markets, so no I won't play any differently here than I do in New Orleans. Will I play any differently here than I do on the East Coast? Yes. I say yes, but then again, it all depends on the crowd. I always go into each gig with an open mind, and I judge each dance floor on its own merit. I don't go in saying "I'm going to play this way tonight, and that's going to be it!" I bring enough music representative of each style, and whatever the crowd wants to do, that's usually where I go.

I have a certain style that I play - I won't stray from my style, but I'll accommodate the crowd as best as I can.

John:

I've actually never heard you play, so it makes it somewhat difficult for me. In your bio, Tribal and Latin are 2 styles that are specifically mentioned. Is that a good description of your style?

Joe:

When I first started DJing, I was more into the radio music, because that's what I was having to play for the Oz crowd, since I was taking over for a DJ who had trained the crowd in that style of music. I was sort of into it at the time, but as I grew up, and developed my own sound, I got more into what I liked to go out and dance to. I like to hear words, but I also like Tribal rhythms and Latin sounds - not a whole night of it, but I like to incorporate that into the night. It's just really easy to dance to in my opinion (a Tribal sound).

John:

Is Oz where you got your start in DJing?

Joe:

Yes, Oz is where I got my official start. I DJ'd in a few other small clubs in Louisiana, which were more like training wheels, but Oz was my first club.

John:

Where did the interest in spinning first start? From going to the clubs?

Joe:

It was from going to the clubs. The Bourbon Pub Parade was where I first started going to dance; I befriended a DJ there name Chuck. I went in and hung out with him almost every night that he spun, because I just loved the music that he was playing... I eventually convinced him to show me how to do it. After that, I started buying music, and eventually bought all of the equipment that I needed to start.

John:

Do you use mostly CDs when you spin?

Joe:

No, I use all vinyl. I started on all CDs, but the pros for vinyls far outweigh the use of CDs - that's a whole other subject though.

John:

What cities or events would you say are on the DJ "A-list" to play?

Joe:

I just played the "Cherry" event, which was really, really fun - well produced.

John:

How is the Austin event?

Joe:

The one on Memorial Day is called Meltdown, and the one on Labor Day is called Perfect Day. Personally, and I don't mind saying this... I haven't liked the way I've played there for one reason or another - I'm my own worst critic. But as far as the weekends themselves go, they're very, very well done. Ben Parsley really has a good thing going there, and he's a really good promoter. The boys really seem to like it. It attracts a much less hard-core circuit crowd. It's a lot of locals, a lot of "boys"; literally boys. Labor Day weekend is a lot more popular than the Memorial Day weekend. It's more laid back. The highlight of the Labor Day weekend is the boat party where 3 barges go out on Lake Travis to Hippy Hollow. They dock, and boys play in the water. I DJ'd on top of one of the barges.

John:

What about Gay Days at Disney World?

Joe:

That's an awesome weekend! I love that weekend! Last year was my first year, and I played at one of the pool parties at the Hyatt. It's a lot of fun - it definitely goes down as one of my favorite weekends. I'm going back this year.

John:

It seems like a lot of people from L.A. are going to that this year.

Joe:

Really? You know, a lot of people from all over are going this year. The past 2 or 3 years it has just been building and gaining a positive word of mouth. 2 years ago, everybody was going to Black and Blue. Last year, Black and Blue didn't quite live up to the year before, but everybody came back from Gay Days going "WOW!" I'll be playing at One Mighty Party this year. Victor Calderone's on the main floor, and I'm in the back. They always run 3 DJs because the park is so big, and the sound can only travel so far. It's a really magical party because you're dancing at Disney World. There's something about just being at Disney World - dancing in front of that big ol' castle, I've forgotten the name of it...

John:

The Magic Castle.

Joe:

The Magic Castle! You're dancing in front of that on Main Street, with drag queens and fireworks... it's something you just don't experience every day.

John:

Of the events you've played, which one stands out the most?

Joe:

I personally feel like I play my best when I'm in New Orleans; especially the party weekends like Halloween, Southern Decadence... Because that's my home club - I feel comfortable in that room. From a musical standpoint, I play the best when I'm there, but I also like Seattle, San Diego, and Washington, D.C.. I've played in D.C. four times now, and I've been very well received there. It allows me to play in a way that I don't get to play in every city, because there you could go literally an hour without playing any words, and they're still screaming. I like to hear words - I'm going to play words whether you want it or not after an hour, but the point is that it allows me to play in a way that I'm not used to playing, which is good because it helps me grow, and it's a really fun city - they're really responsive.

John:

Where did you play in Seattle?

Joe:

The club is called Ego. That was a really receptive crowd. That's what I look for when I play a gig - how receptive the crowd is to what I'm doing. It's one thing for me to go in there and see that what the crowd wants is not what I want to do, and yet I do what they want, and the night's a success. I view that as a good night. But what I consider to be a really successful night is when I go in there and I start doing what I want to do, and the crowd is totally on the page, and they're on the page from beginning to end; I don't have to alter what I'm doing because they get what I'm doing. That is what I consider a good night. I've had nights like that in Seattle, in D.C., in New Orleans, and Chicago too.

Atlanta, Georgia - I really like that city, and I have the most friends there. I've played there the most, and that's where I actually got my first break as far as traveling goes. I find it hard to play there because for one reason or another the party doesn't go the way I want it to. The crowd might think it was a success, but from my standpoint, I haven't really played there the way I wanted to. I'm doing the T-dance this year for Hotlanta. I'm hoping that this year Hotlanta can get itself back where it wants to be, cause it's really a fun city. Hotlanta is like the grandfather of all the parties. It's been around forever.

John:

You were named a Billboard Reporter earlier this year, as was Ron Thomas. I still don't quite get what that means. Could you explain that to me?

Joe:

You know how Billboard has the top 100 charts? Most of them are done by sales. The dance club play chart is done by Billboard DJs. It is a reflection of what is being played in the clubs based on what the dance DJs report to the magazine. Each week the Billboard Reporters, approximately 140 DJs from various regions, turn in a chart in which they rate songs. It's very time-consuming, and the record promoters can be very pushy to get you to rate their record highly - you have to be really comfortable with who you are as a DJ to stand up to them, and only recently have I felt this way about myself. It's definitely a very big deal, being a Billboard DJ. I was a lot more thrilled when I was voted in that I'd thought I'd be. I think being a gay DJ, you want to be accepted more by the boys than by the Industry.

John:

Are a lot of the Billboard DJs gay?

Joe:

No. I would say there's more straight DJs than gay DJs in my own personal opinion, but I don't know the exact numbers. What they try to do with the Billboard dance club play is represent club play in all clubs across the U.S. - gay, straight, hip-hop, everything.

John:

You have a gig in Italy coming up. Tell us more about that.

Joe:

It's for Alternative Holidays in September. It's an Atlantis-style event. It's at Club Med in Italy. I saw the brochure - it was beautiful. I actually saw where I'm going to be playing - it's in these outside ruins; it should be great.

John:

How would you describe the gay life in New Orleans? Is it pretty comfortable? I think a lot of people identify New Orleans with Mardi Gras, and a liberal lifestyle. Would that be a correct assumption?

Joe:

It's not like Mardi Gras year-round. A lot of people think that Los Angeles is White Party all year-round. I live in the French Quarter, which is the historic part of New Orleans, and I would say you could walk around and feel pretty comfortable being yourself in the French Quarter. It's not Los Angeles; the gay population has decreased a lot in my opinion since its prime because of the economic downfall in the 80's prompted a lot of people to move to bigger markets like Atlanta. Most of my friends from New Orleans have moved to Atlanta, so there's not really that large of a gay contingency. The people that are there and come there have a great time, and they always say it's a really fun city.

John:

And now the most important question of all, which I probably should have asked first. Are you single?

Joe:

Yes, as single as they come.

John:

So does that mean that you're looking?

Joe:

Am I looking? Well, right now I'm trying to concentrate on my career. I'm not... I'm not NOT looking... but, uh, I'm not actively... no, I'm not looking. Um, but, I'm not going to turn something away either. I'm kind of holding out for Mr. Perfect.

John:

Any final comments?

Joe:

Just that I'm excited to be here. I really like my job. I love what I do. What I do as a career is my hobby also. I don't have a day job - I'm not trying to criticize those who do, but this is what I've devoted my life to right now, because I absolutely love to do it. I just hope people can appreciate that, and I hope that people can enjoy listening to me as much as I enjoy playing for them.

John:

I have a strong feeling that this won't be your last time in L.A. by a long shot.

Joe:

I hope so!

webmaster's note: Send applications for Joe's boyfriend me. You must include a 300-word essay on why you should be considered for the Mr. Perfect title. Joe will be spinning again in Southern California at the debut of the First Annual Water Park event in SD for Pride called Wet With Pride at Knott's Soak City, USA.

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