The Rocks Off 100: Mr. Castillo, Song-Sniping DJ

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Welcome to the Rocks Off 100, our portrait gallery of the most compelling profiles and personalities in the far-flung Houston music community -- a lot more than just musicians, but of course they're in there too. See the entire Rocks Off 100 at this link.

Who? Dan Castillo, Mr. Castillo to you, is one of Houston's most consistent DJs, and can always be counted on to keep a dance floor going. He specializes in... well, he doesn't specialize actually. That's what makes him such an effective DJ.

Hearing a set by Castillo will involve everything from Nu Disco to minimalist wave, post-punk to Italian Disco. That potent mixture that comes out of nowhere yet never misses a transition is why you see his name on all the posters for the good shows in town. He spins from the blindsides like a song sniper.

Castillo actually got his start in posters. He began working in the music industry in 2003 as a graphic designer, making flyers and ads for The Proletariat, Danseparc, and Boys and Girls Club as well as most of the East End's larger live-music venues. A computer crash in 2006 coincided with a desire to find something creative to do outside of his graphic-design day job, and when a client offered to let him try a set a Proletariat, he jumped at it.

The gig went well, and he bought his first dual CD player a few weeks later. Closing in on a decade later, it's a rare month when he's not booked solid.

Home Base: When it comes to finding tracks to play, Castillo haunts the dollar bins and resale shops. He's a passionate record collector, but dislikes paying collector prices for albums. His preferred performance turf is Grand Prize Bar. The staff is friendly and the atmosphere is unpretentious, which lends to a house-party feel. Boondocks is his second-favorite venue to play.

Good War Story: "Gear failure is the worst," says Castillo. "Skipping records to a crashed computer can make for a tough evening. The most stressful had to be the time my laptop crashed before Blondie/Devo at the Arena Theatre. Thank God for records. Second would be the blistering cold winds during IGLOO Lounge at Discovery Green last holiday season."

Music Scene Pet Peeve: It bears repeating until you understand: a DJ is not a jukebox or your iPod. That means they play what they want, and also, that you need to keep your mitts off the gear. Boundaries are important.

Five Desert Island Discs:

  • Miles Davis, Kind of Blue
  • The Cure, Staring at the Sea
  • My Bloody Valentine, Isn't Anything
  • Ministry, The Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Taste
  • The Stooges, Raw Power

Best Show You've Ever Seen: "Smokin' Grooves Tour 1998 was probably the best hip hop show I have ever been to," he says. "Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Wyclef Jean's Refugee Camp All-Stars and Busta Rhymes."

First Song You Fell In Love With: Bob Dylan, "Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35" -- "I recall being four years old and bugging my mother to play the record for me constantly."

Mr. Castillo appears alongside Soft Metals, Disalo, Ceeplus Bad Knives and Calero Monday, September 9 at Boondocks, 1417 Westheimer. Event starts at 8 p.m.

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

See who else has joined the Rocks Off 100 this year on the next page.


DJ Big Reeks, The Chief Waxaholic

Melane Gutierrez, The Coffin Queen

Folk Descendent Kevin Taylor Kendrick

Eloy Contreras, Deathrazor's Sharp Thrash Vocals

The Rocks Off 100: Robert McCarthy, Guitarist From Beyond

The Rocks Off 100: Justice Tirapelli-Jamail, The Manichean's "Quiet One"

Charlie Horshack, LP4's Guitar Warrior

Kathryn Hallberg, Little Girl Gone

Tessa Kole, PuraPharm's Voice and Vice

Richard Griesser, Vintage Camera Hound With Enviable Archive

Downfall 2012, Sci-Fi Metal Storytellers

Kevin Choate, Drum Like You're Screaming

DJ Rockwell, Booth Pimp and Party-Rocker

Ash Kay, the Freakouts' Punk Vocal Head-Butt

The Rocks Off 100: Pat Kelly, The Godfather of the Suffers

Michelle Miears of BLSHS, Siren In the Machine

DJ Remix, Genre-Hopping Mix Maniac

Kahna, Brutal Nation's Metal Booking Queen

DJ Ill Set, Enemy of Wack Tracks

Shane Tuttle, Updog Owner and Album-Cover Designer

Electric Attitude, Renegades of Funk

Sama'an Ashrawi, Trill Gladiator

Recon Naissance, A Rap While Matt's Guitar Gently Weeps

DJ Klinch Asks, "Can You Dig It?"

Jose "Chapy" Luna, Percussionist Con Corazón

Love Dominique, Wicked Heart R&B Chanteuse

Chris Gerhardt, Mastermind of Giant Battle Monster

The Jobe Wilson Band, the Boys From Chambers County

Kimberly M'Carver, Missouri City's Nightingale

DJ Panchitron, Stirring the Cumbia/Moombahton Melting Pot

D.R.I's Kurt Brecht, Thrash Zone Supervisor

Sloan Robley, The Last Houstonian Banshee

Jack Saunders, Dealer of Grit & Jangle

Richard Ramirez, Noise God and Black Leather Jesus

Mike Meegz, Scoremore's Houston Lieutenant

Jacqui Sutton, Houston's "Jazzgrass Lady"

Robin Kirby, Silk and Sandpaper Songwriter

Billy Dorsey, Grammy-Winning MARATHON Runner

David DeLaGarza, Don of Tejano Stars La Mafia

Jason Puffer, Your Psychedelic Sex Panther

Tobin Harvell, Fitzgerald's Unflappable Floor Manager

Walter Suhr, the Straw That Stirs Mango Punch!

Tony Garza, La Orquesta Salmerum Founder

OG Ron C, Chopstar King of the Purple Dome

Football, etc., Giving Emo Back Its Good Name

Angela Jae, Renaissance Artist

Shellee Coley, Voice of the Northern Woods

Blaggards, Houston's St. Paddy's Day House Band

DJ Meshak, Hongree Records' Sound Selecter

K-Rino, South Park Coalition's Southside Maven

DJ Candlestick, One Niceguy and a Very Busy DJ

Danielle Renee, Only Beast's Destroyer of Walls

Felipe Galvan of Los Skarnales

Kristine Mills, Houston's Brassiest Voice

Brian Davis, Punk Drummer, Horror Composer

Elroy Boogie, Top-Notch Turntablist

Sean Ozz, Wizard of The Abyss

Alyssa Rubich, Angel of Instability

Alphonso "Fonz" Lovelace, Righteous Drummer

Frank Zweback, Funkmaster General

OG Bobby Trill, Bombon Beatmaker

Beau Beasley, Organist for the End of Time

Rapid Ric, Mixtape Mechanic

Dwight Taylor Lee, the Wandering Bufalero

Coline Creuzot, Soulful Pop/R&B Singer

Cristina Acuna, Cactus Music's Twitter Fingers

Clint Broussard, Blues In Hi-Fi Man Now Back On FM

Nortnii Rose, Houston Ska's Greatest Hope

Ramblin' Chase Hamblin, the Man Who Will Be Paid

Chris Alonzo, Bringing Night Flight to Facebook


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