Pre-med. University of Houston. John Mayer. Atheist. Anesthesiology. These are all terms that aren't associated with hip-hop. Or could that change? Acres Homes' own Edwin Penn may change all that if he stays his course... or, should we say, passes his courses. Eddie, known better to the streets as DJ Eddie Deville, DJs at more than 50 nightclubs throughout the United States and has given Houston some of the hottest mixtapes in the last decade. He's the president of the Texas Chapter of the Bum Squad DJz, a worldwide fraternity of DJs. He also embodies the five words at the beginning of this blog. OK, he doesn't embody John Mayer - he's not that pretty - but he is a pre-med student at U of H on a career path to becoming an anesthesiologist, who doesn't believe in common conceptions of God, though, he does indulge The Hot Seat's religious questions. He also talks to us about the DJ equivalent to no-talent MySpace rappers, why you don't want to fuck with the Kansas City Police Department, mother-daughter combos at the club, why Coast is so special and why not everyone should be able to buy Serato. Join us in talking to DJ Eddie Deville, the man who just might make college cool.
Rocks Off: We're Facebook friends. We've had a couple of people email or text us "I want your life" because of the cool shit we're involved in, from hip-hop to politics. We don't blame them. But, you're one of the only people we actually have felt that about. Every time we see your posts you're DJing in Phoenix, which has good strip clubs, or Laredo, which has really hot women, or Austin, which is a cool city, or Dallas, which... fuck the Cowboys. But perception and reality can be two different things. Is being a sought-after DJ all that it's cracked up to be? DJ Eddie Deville: Being somewhat of a sought-after DJ is definitely not a bad thing, although it may have some downfalls. I am lucky that I've been in it long enough to come from an era where DJing and music was still pure and not what it is today. I believe that is what has helped me get to the level I am at now, because after all the bull shit is over people can really tell who knows what and who is really good at what they do - not just faking the funk. So with that being said, yes, I'm glad I am still relevant enough to be sought after, and I'm thankful there are still people out there that look for quality DJs instead of the guy that will do it for $50 and a free drink. The main downfall I would say is the amount of people looking to take your spot even if they aren't qualified to do so. RO: One of your Facebook posts said something about you going to the John Mayer concert and you were boastful about it, which surprised us. We have to admit, we really like John Mayer, but we thought we were supposed to keep it a secret since, you know, we're dudes. We thought only girls were supposed to like John Mayer, but now we feel OK in admitting we're fans, because DJ Eddie Deville has. DED: Above all, I am a fan of good music and even if you don't like a certain type of music that doesn't mean its not quality. That's something I say to a lot of people because I run into a lot of folks that turn a cheek to good music because they feel it might make them less cool. Well, in my eyes, those people lack individuality and that makes them less cool. I'm a big fan of John Mayer. Actually, Coast and I went to the concert. It may surprise you, but most of what I listen to and enjoy is music I would never play in the club. But, usually, whatever club I'm at I'll sneak in a song I want that may not fit the club format. At end of night, when the lights are on and everyone is headed out the door you might hear "In the Still of the Night" or Bobby Pulido's "Desvelado" or John Mayer's "Gravity."
RO: So we read that you took over DJing at the TOC Bar, level one. It's become somewhat of a landmark. The guy you replaced was doing it for five years or something, right? DED: Yes, I have just recently taken over Saturday nights at TOC Bar, which was passed to me by my friend DJ MPULSE after he was resident there for over five years. Toc is definitely a staple of downtown Houston from the time it was at a smaller location across the street to now in its two-story location. It has always been one of Houston's main club attractions. I look forward to having a good, long position there with the club, staff and with my other good friend DJ Kaos (http://twitter.com/djaykaos), who holds down level two every Saturday as well, so come out and see us ... shots on us.
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RO: Ask V-Zilla. We'll never say no to free shots, Eddie. So is TOC Bar or Club Roxy more important in the Houston nightclub history book? DED: As a DJ who would like to do business with both venues, I'm going to have to plead the fifth on this question. Besides, I think that would be better answered by the party patrons then by an industry insider. RO: Spoken like a true businessman... We'll respect it. You struck us as a well-read, smart dude. We hear you're a student at the University of Houston, Downtown. What are you studying? DED: Yes, at the moment I am at UH-D where I study Biology and Philosophy and I am a pre-med student planning on transferring to UT and pursuing a career in anesthesiology. Until now, this is a fact that only a few people close to me knew, and I managed to keep low for a while, but I feel comfortable speaking on it now, and I'll explain why. I received my first college degree in 2001 in Florida for recording engineering and that's what lead me into the music business where I've recorded albums, toured with labels, and DJ'd for artists, made mixtape history, etcetera. After years of that, I started thinking deeper about what it is I want to do with my future on a more stable basis, because I'm a very realistic person and can accept that not everyone stays in the music business forever. So, once I stopped touring so hardcore I returned to school taking a class here and there while I was DJing around town. Everything was going well and no one seemed to know since I never told anyone. This was mostly because I was afraid people would have that mentality of "Oh, Eddie Deville must have fell off. He's a school boy now." But now, as an older man, I've realized that life is life. At the end of the day, a man is judged by what he can do for himself and his family, whether it be mixing a record or working in a hospital. I just happened to be focused enough to where I can do both. Besides, I've done more part-time than some have done full-time. That's not bragging. That's just being thankful. RO: You have a big responsibility when you step behind the turntables. You're basically responsible for, like, everyone's evening. Do you ever think about it that way? DED: I think about that every night. I think any good DJ does. When we go in, we are working. It's our job. Our job is to make sure other people have a good time and I know I try to make that happen every night that I spin. There's more to being a good DJ than knowing what top hits to play in a night. The way you structure your set has a major effect on how the night turns out and how you can entertain your crowd. I'm a big fan of "Wow" records. These aren't songs that get a good reaction because they are on the radio 100 times a day and everyone knows them. These are songs that might be a great record people have forgot about or thought they'd never hear in a club. Nothing satisfies me more than that "Oh!" reaction from a crowd. RO: Spending so many evenings in nightclubs, you are bound to have some crazy stories. DED: Once I was in Kansas City and a minute after I played the first record a huge brawl broke out and the police barged in with pepper spray cans as big as two-liters and started spraying. These things shot spray about 20 feet each. I was choking and coughing trying to pack up my stuff and get out of there. I've also seen a mother-daughter team get R-rated on stage together in a club. RO: Ever been booed for playing a song in a club? DED: Of course, there's always that one person booing a song they don't like as the other 500 people in the club are around them dancing and having a great time. I've even been booed for playing Michael Jackson in the club. That person, needless to say, doesn't' know good music. RO: Would you say there's a science to hosting a good mixtape? You've put out some pretty memorable ones. DED: I can't speak much on hosting because I don't talk on my tapes. I don't have a good voice and I know my place and respect the art enough to leave that part of it alone. As far as my own projects, I'm most proud of Thinking Out Loud (Coast), Playas Paradise (Lucky Luciano), NAWF 2 (Lucky Luciano, Stunta, Coast) and Ride On Our Enemies (2Pac, 50 Cent).
RO: You're good friends with Coast. Every time we write on him, people pour their hearts out in the comment section. Why? DED: Well I think his unique way of expressing himself in an entertaining way makes him a special artist. The way he's managed to be relevant and successful in the business without bending to trends or following them makes him one of a kind. RO: Where does Houston hip-hop stand in all the other markets you're in? Do we still have a big influence on other hip-hop cultures or their music? Houston's influence on mainstream hip-hop is not what it used to be simply because we aren't on top of the game like we were a few years ago. Unfortunately, the hip-hop you hear on radios today is the watered down music that labels and radio program directors let you hear, which is mostly by artists just trying to follow whatever trend is popular at the moment. Hip-hop has a tendency to rotate between different regions - north, south, east and west. If you want to find good hip-hop that was made from good influences, start your search anywhere besides the radio. RO: Tell us about Bum Squad DJz. You are the president of the Texas Chapter. What are the advantages of having that affiliation and being head of that important affiliate? DED: Bum Squad Djz is a collection of the most talented and influential DJs around the world. We have chapters all over the globe and are proud to have nothing but real talented DJs, not just a crew with names and no talent. Being a member and president of a major chapter definitely has advantages. I have an open network of DJs anywhere I go and that has lead to many opportunities. RO: How has technology impacted DJing? MySpace basically gave everyone permission to be a rapper - good or not. Has the technology done the same for your industry? DED: It's a gift and a curse. Serato has allowed DJs to move around with more ease and carry more music, but unfortunately, it has given any guy with a few hundred bucks the chance to add "DJ" to their name. This has lead to real DJs getting undercut by young guys in the game doing clubs for next to nothing and using the excuse of paying dues as the explanation. Long story short Serato should be earned. RO: So God wakes you up one night, and he ironically looks like Coast with a Jesus-like beard, and he says to you, "Eddie, wake the fuck up. Look, I can't manage this DJ and education route you're taking. I'm too fucking busy. So you need to choose one. I promise you'll be rich, whichever you decide to do. But know this, whatever you choose; you will never be able to pursue the other again. And hurry up because I have to piss." What would you do? DED: Well, anyone that knows me knows I'm an atheist, so that happening would be a major surprise to me. But if it did, I would have one major question in my life answered and I would have to choose DJing. That way, I'd do something I love and be well off in life. I think I can still gain knowledge, because knowledge doesn't have to be applied to a career to be obtained. And then I'd ask God, "You can create the earth and heavens but you cant keep up with me? What gives?" RO: Tell me, why do we keep jamming NAWF 2? What makes that mixtape such a repeat offender? That's what we call a song or CD we put on repeat. DED: NAWF 2 was created at a time in all our lives when music was our main focus and all the elements just came together. Every now and then, a song or project is created in situations, where the stars all line up, and something magical is made. And that was one of those times. It seemed like every word and every beat meshed together just right to make something undeniable. RO: Undeniable is right. Follow DJ Eddie Deville on MySpace, Twitter, or Facebook. Follow his blog called Spin Syringe. Rolando Rodriguez is the managing editor of RedBrownandBlue.com. Follow him on MySpace and on Twitter or befriend him on Facebook.