Welcome to The Rocks Off 200, 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 previous entries in the Rocks Off 100 at this link.
"I would like to thank all the DJs in the world that have inspired and supported me. You guys keep me on the right path of being a part of an art and culture that gives me purpose and identity doing this. I AM THE DJ."
Who: Fernando Aya is a member of the Kratez Crew DJ collective here in Houston. You may remember his last name as two of his family members have also been profiled on the Rocks Off 100/200 (DJ iLL-Set and Noon). He spins as DJ Nando1, and describes himself as "a creative individual and music loving vinyl purist and turntablist at heart". He considers the turntable to be a musical instrument, and strives to be a preserver of the DJ culture.
"I first fell in love with music as a child" he continues. "I grew up in a large Cuban/Colombian family, and every family gathering was a dance party. I used to watch my father play old vinyl cumbia, salsa, and all other types of latin records on our single vinyl record player and blend in music with cassettes on mixer from Radioshack. Since then, music has always been part of our lives".
"As a teen, my sister DJ ill-Set and I would always attend or throw house parties with friends" he remembers. "That later lead to us attending warehouse parties, clubs, and raves. My life experiences and the love of music has led me to develop my urban versatile style. I would say my biggest influence was DJ Jazzy Jeff."
Home Base: Nando was born in The Heights and grew up on the North West side of town. He is a proud member of the Kratez Crew, as well as his cousin Noon's band The Population. "Both entities have provided me great opportunities to push myself and my art" he says. "My base also comes from the relationships and friendships I've made in the underground Houston music scene."
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Why Do You Stay in Houston? "Because I'm broke, that's one reason" he laughs. "In reality, most of my family lives here and I have my crew here, and I hold a lot of love for my city. I been working with many local artists and have many upcoming projects and events here in Houston."
War Story: We'll allow Nando to take over from here:
It was at this boat party on Lake Travis in the Summer of 2009. I was DJing with my best friend Micheal Eclectic. We took the gig at the last minute because the original DJ was unable to attend. Once we arrived to Lake Travis, we immediately sensed the skepticism from the crowd. We then find out that the generator wasn't working, and then one of the speakers goes out. We rig the fuse with a sandwich tie and somehow got the speaker worked. But then, more technical problems began with one of the channels of the mixer making a loud nasty buzz. No back-up mixer and we were hours away from home. I noticed that if you pushed down on the back of the RCA input that the line would stop buzzing in the mixer. So I took one for the team and decided to sit in front of the DJ booth holding down on channel 2 just to keep the live mix going. Other boats full of people would dock and join us and it got crazy! I felt like a superstar and the mix was on point. Any other DJ would have probably given up due to all the obstacles, but I fought to keep the party poppin.
Music Scene Pet Peeve: "I'm pretty sick of venues putting everything on the DJ" answers Nando. "Very few seem to provide equipment or promotional support. As a DJ, its my job to entertain your crowd and keep them there drinking, dancing and happy. But at the end of the night somehow it becomes the DJs fault the bar tab wasn't high enough or the door didn't profit what they were expecting."
"I'm also tired of low balling good DJs and not paying what they are worth. So a little more respect and accountability on behalf of the promoter and the venue would go a long way".
Five Desert Island Discs:
- A Tribe Called Quest, Midnight Marauders
- Michael Jackson, Off The Wall
- Phil Collins, No Jacket Required
- James Brown, Papa Don't Take No Mess
- Armand Van Helden, You Don't Even Know Me
Best Show Ever: "Hands down it has to be a show I did with my band The Population and my Kratez Crew brothers in 2012" remembers Nando. "The Pharcyde came to Fitzgerald's and we got the chance to open for them. My crew was booked to DJ and my band was booked to play, so on that night it was all one big happy family... literally! My cousin Noon called on my cousin Andres Aya and my uncle AJ to play live instruments on the showcase. We ended up playing to a sold out house and everyone in the crowd went crazy during our set."
See the rest of the Rocks Off 200, and the Rocks Off 100's 2013 alumni, on the next page.
THE ROCKS OFF 200
Randall Hopkins, Featherface Drummer and Brilliant Video Director Roby Deaton, Open-Mike Pocket of Cool Nosaprise, Hurrah! for the Blushing Bridegroom Tony Vega, the Big Easy's Barnburner Leslie Krafka, Onward Through the Fog Michael Anthony Shanks, Houston's Merry Shankster DJ Baby Roo, Vegetarian Hip-Hop Veteran Rachel Bays, Filming Them Softly Punk-Rock "Newcomers" Screech of Death Erin Rodgers, the Keys to Glass the Sky Alex LaRotta, Crate-Digging Fistful of Soul Brother Alycia Miles, Triumphant Soul Singer DJ Piam, Poison Girl's Bacon-Fat Funk Specialist Mister Insane, Host of The Insane Show Jake Rawls -- Kemo For Emo Is Back Santos Pastrana, Sound Engineer and DJ Ninja Heading Upstream with RIVERS' Chris Tamez DJ Dayta, Keeper of That Good Good Matthew Davis Buehrer, Runaway Sun's Globally Thinking Bassist Fat Tony, Third Ward to "BKNY" Noon, Rapper With a Lot on His Mind Matt Cash, Clear Lake's Cassette Tape Wailer Jason Smith, Alkari's Space City Rocker DJ Penetrate, All Lit Up in "Neon Lights" Catch Fever Is Catching On Renée Jonard, Princess of Noise Pollution Junior Gordon, Big Man With a Big Sound Chad Smalley, Blaggards' Barse Player Damien Randle, K-OTIX Man of Action Kevin Anthony, 45 Southbound Man DJ Good Grief Knows How to Have Fun Robert Kuhn, the Well-Traveled Islander Gunnar Cushway, Insko's Feel-Good Utilityman Mario Rodriguez, Tax the Wolf/Bang Bangz's Wonky Power Monger John Smith, Goodtime Continental Club Manager Dwayne Cathey, A Good Man to Scare People With Walter Carlos, Guitar-Punisher of Funeral Horse Ryan James, Putting Up a Good Fight John Cramer, Guitar Apostle of Project Grimm Big Gerb, Houston's Hongree-est MC Steven Higginbotham, Hard-Working Wheel Worker Alisha Pattillo & Her Swaggering, Soulful Sax Brandon Ray, Punk Rocker Turned Filmmaker/Animator The Excitable Boys of Another Run Flash Gordon Parks, DJ as Funky Professor DJ Main Event, Kratez Crew JumpOff Man Odd Hours and Back to Back's Hank Doyle Legendary K-OTIX Producer Russel "The ARE" Gonzalez Dylan Bryson Sings the Blues (Rock) DJ Damon Allen, R.O.C.O. Fellow Tom Lynch, New Kid On the Block Ashley Worhol, Goth-Metal Queen of Katy Joe Ortiz, Clockpole's Master of Nonsense Marzi Montazeri, the Man Dimebag Darrell Called a Bad Motherfucker John Salinas, the Beat Beast of Only Beast Homegrown Cowboy Crooner Charles Peters Adam Bricks, NYC Expat Metal Journeyman and Blasé Bassist Alan Hilton Kyra Noons, Houston's Reggae Sunsplash DJ AudiTory, the Maestro of LuvItMane The Nephilim Terror's Death-Metal Growler Danny Carroll Tommy Grindle, Guitarist of Square and Compass The Bailout Bureau's Mysterious "Bob Bovary" DJ Twinkle-Toes, Won a "Dick-Measuring Vinyl Orgy" With Two iPods Beanz N Kornbread, Gmail-Loving Production Duo You(genious), Party Crasher Turned Musical Auteur Daniel Alexander, Klein's Backyard MC
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