He's Barrett Read by day. He's b.read by night. He was born and raised in New Braunfels, Texas. He's turning 27 years young this month. He's hosting Hip Hop Night every Friday in April at the Friesenhaus Beergarten. He let us interview him.
What got you started into DJing parties/events?
Necessity...(laughing) really. Sounds strange but it's true...Wise Reading (the Hip Hop duo that consists of Barrett and his longtime friend and emcee Ali the Wise) wanted to do some shows...now my role in this duo is music production. That's my deal. I make the beats, he makes the rhymes...when it came to a live show setting, we were having a hard time finding someone that could spin the instrumentals so Ali could do the show...after searching for a live DJ and striking out, off to eBay I went. Bought my gear and that's that.
What kind of music can we expect at your gigs?
Underground Hip Hop, Funk, Soul, Reggae, and whatever else I decide to throw in...White Lion, who knows? (laughing)
What kind of music will we definitely NOT hear you play?
Hip hop that's cluttered with auto-tune vocal lines. Hip hop made by people who don't use 808 sounds responsibly. Hip hop that doesn't care if hand-claps are played out. I tell people I love to play hip hop and they go "Oh..." and have a look on their face like something smells in the room. They are thinking of hip hop that's on the radio, hip hop that does not make me bob my head. That hip hop is on the radio because the record labels paid for it to be there, not because it's the "best" out there. Do I sound like I hate the radio? (laughs) I hope so...not to sound like a grumpy old man, but yeah - the radio does not represent this music well.
We know you are playing at Friesenhaus every Friday in April. How did this get started?
It actually started with a friend of mine who works in the kitchen- Mike. He had me come out last year and play for his birthday party. The crowd came out, had a blast, so Gunter (the owner) and I got together and made it happen every Friday night after that. Fun ensued.
You don't typically hear Friesenhaus and Hip Hop in the same sentence. Explain how this relationship works.
Really? Dude, Redman and Method Man eat there all the time when they're in the area! (laughs) Yeah, you're right...those two words aren't usually paired together. It's just a good place to have fun in the summer, hang out with friends, and drink some great German beer. That's another reason why this works out so damn well - I love good beer. And uh, they have lots of it - so there ya go...
Who comes to these shows?
My friends, my friends' friends, people who come not knowing me and leave as my friend, that sort. (laughs) Really though, people that want to come and hang out in a relaxed atmosphere and drink some good beer. People that don't want to drink beer with lime flavor already in it. (laughing) People that don't want to hear the "I'm on a boat" song. People who don't like paying a cover charge and people who don't like dress codes - know anyone like that? If so, tell 'em about Hip Hop Nights! (laughs)
Tell us a little about your tools of the trade. What's the setup?
Ah, gear, now we're talking! I use a pair of Vestax PDX-2000's in conjunction with M-Audio's Torq. It's a great bit of software that allows me to manipulate mp3's same as I would vinyl records...
Besides Hip Hop, what can we find on your ipod?
You know? Lately, it's been alot of stand up comedy (laughing). I grew up listening to all kinds of music: oldies, rock, country, classical, Christian music, you name it...but yeah- lately it's been alot of Richard Pryor and Patton Oswalt.
Give us a few of the DJ names you have considered over the years? Be honest.
Oooooooohhhhh OK- nice question. I don't really know how to answer this one! I was going to go with "DJ loveswhathedoestoodamnmuch" but I was told that was too long (laughing). But really, DJ names are usually things that sound silly to me. I also don't really think I deserve a DJ name. (laughs) I have far too much fun and I don't think my level of "seriousness" warrants one...I have, however, thought of having an ever-evolving DJ name. Like one night, I'd be "DJ Funny Hat" and all night I'd wear a funny hat. The next week, I'd be "DJ Moustache" and have a fake moustache. This is something I've thought about, and then I realized I'd soon run out of ideas. Maybe that could be something the crowd helps me out with, vote for the next weeks' DJ name.
3 favorite albums of all time?
Awwww Man- you had to ask it! I have no clue- what day is it? (laughing) This is something that's always changing...I think for todays' sake, I'd have to say: De La Soul- Stakes is High, Heltah Skeltah-D.I.R.T. and Pete Rock-Soul Survivor...however the new Jake One and Freeway has been getting alot of attention lately.
What's been your best GO-TO track that's guaranteed to get the crowd going?
You know? I learn about what people like every week...I will throw on something and get a much larger reaction that I thought...I do know that the girls like The Roots. (laughing) Also, I'm not afraid to throw on some Michael Jackson if people are looking kind of tired...
What will we hear from you that we probably would not expect?
That's a good one...I do throw some stuff out there from left field, like the Vibrators...that's usually towards the very end of the night, everyone's drunk and I can get away with it (laughing).
How do you feel about requests?
It depends on a few things if they get played: first, I have to have it. Second: It has to fit into what mix I've been building for the last few hours. Some requests are great, but don't fit. I'll spend an hour building an upbeat mix, so I'm not going to play an Easy Star All Stars song, even though I love them...(laughs) If I get asked for The Thong Song, it's most likely not going to get played, regardless if it fits in the mix or not. (laughing)
What's the music collection like these days?
That's a good question...I own a ton of music in all medias- CD's used to be my favorite since I like to have all the artwork, but you can't disregard technology... Probably over 1000 CD's, over 400 or so records, 200 or so tapes and well over 4,000 digital albums. Granted, I don't have all that music with me at Friesenhaus- so don't expect me to have everything!
What makes a successful night?
Any night in which people come out and have fun- that's my main goal. It's funny to think about it, but I probably get more out of these Friday night events than the crowd...when I'm playing that music and having a Bitburger, I forget about all the stress and BS from the last week...ultimately, my goal is just to have fun, let people cut loose and forget about their own week's BS.
Anything else we should know?
Yeah, just remember to have fun with whatever you do....that's what I'm all about! I don't care if it's skateboarding or knitting a sweater, have fun...you'll live longer and you'll make more friends. (laughs) Nobody wants to be around a party-pooper or a crabby pants. So there ya go.
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