With a mischievous alias and personality to match, DJ Mancub‘s musical style has been exemplified by antics such as scratching while wearing boxing gloves. Playing a range of genres showcasing his “funky, sometimes nasty,” sound, Mancub’s 20-plus year career includes endeavors such as a veteran membership in the Space Cowboys collective, DJing for HushConcerts, and keeping the underground breakbeat scene alive.
We got a chance to ask Mancub about DJing before the days of YouTube tutorials, Burning Man oil explosions, and his favorite Christmas jam.
SF Weekly: Give us a brief history of how you got into DJing.
Mancub: In 1992, I went to Lollapalooza in New Orleans. I was home sick and snuck out of my parent’s house to go. My friends parked me in front of the hip-hop stage. I saw Ice Cube, Cypress Hill, and there was a DJ onstage. I knew I would do that one day.
SFW: How long have you been at it?
M: I acquired a small record collection from my older siblings and my dad’s jazz collection in 1994. Moving to Colorado for a summer of adventure changed my life forever. I met my best friend Bennett while we were both working at a car wash. We discovered we both loved electronic music. CDs were fresh on the market but expensive. We got into record digging and I was hooked on golden era hip-hop, trip-hop, jungle, and breakbeats. It wasn’t till ’95-’96 that I was able to save up and buy a second turntable.
We taught ourselves how to DJ from Bennett’s dad’s kitchen and ran extra long chords to the stereo in the living room. We recorded every mix on tape, listened to them constantly, and celebrated our beat matching successes. We both worked at the Boulderado restaurant in Boulder. Wednesday nights were available downstairs in the Catacombs. It was Bennett’s idea to start a DJ night there, and we brought our non-pitch controlled, crappy, Thrift Town turntables, records, and Vestex every Wednesday. We were young and hustled to play our beats anywhere. Those were some of the best days of my life.
SFW: Where did you come up with the moniker Mancub?
M: Before I moved to California, I used to go by Chipwich or Mr. Chip. Around 17 years ago, my wife Jenee, Bennett, and I were walking down the street in S.F. I did something super silly and child-like. They started laughing and talked me into changing my DJ name to Mancub.
SFW: Tell us about the Space Cowboys family. What’s your favorite part of being part of the crew?
M: I love being a Space Cowboy veteran. We have thrown some of the best events in the Bay and at Burning Man. We created the first mobile sound system out of a Unimog.
Space Cowboys keep the underground break beat scene alive. Come to Breakfast of Champions and find out!
SFW: How have you seen Burning Man change in recent years?
M: It was very raw in the early years. People brought guns, flamethrowers, and pyrotechnics of all sorts. There were no roads and camping freedom. More people started to come and the rules changed a lot. Now police walk the streets. There is cell phone service and you have to carry your ID everywhere. Burning Man is still amazing and a life changing experience. I highly recommend going, staying off your phones, reading the survival guide, and having fun!
SFW: Paint us a picture of your most memorable DJ experience in your career thus far.
M: Burning Man 2007 was my absolute favorite. I was all about the playa hustle. I must have played three camps a day. Also, the Unimog was the sound system PA for large scale burns. People would sit in a large circle and wait for the show. Jon Cotter would drive the Mog slowly inside the circle so folks could hear the announcements. This year was the oil derrick explosion and it took a couple days to make sure it was safe. So on the third day of “maybe it’s happening…,” it happened! I just finished DJing on the Mog, passed the DJ duty over to Murph, stood on the outside of the Mog, and the oil derrick exploded. The three-day hype was real! I witnessed the largest explosion ever and nearly burned my face off. It lit the night sky like it was day. I could see people and their shadows for miles. Truly epic!
SFW: What’s a DJ deal breaker for you?
M: You are not going to believe this but just recently, I had some drunken kid scream at me to play some Drake and throw a pair of Hush headphones at me.
SFW: Ha, you’re also part of the Hush family. How’s that experience?
M: I feel blessed to be part of the Hush crew. They are an amazing team. Everyone is super talented, hard working, and honorable. I love working with them!
SFW: What’s your quintessential Christmas song this holiday season?
M: I grew up listening to Snoopy’s Christmas (1969) by the Peter Pan Pop Band. My folks bought this record for a dollar at a thrift store before I was born. My sister, Kelly, in New Orleans, claimed our Dad accidentally gave it to me. I couldn’t find it in my record collection. We spent many Christmas’ without the record. Then one day Kelly found it in her closet and the LP was too banged up for me to get a decent recording. This album was extremely hard to track down before the internet. There was zero information in the LP liner. I searched so many blog sites and finally found a Mp3. “Christmas Candy” is my jam!
SFW: Breakfast of Champions is fast approaching. What is it about this party that keeps such positive and friendly vibes from morning to night?
M: We’ve been throwing this party for 16 years. I have close friends that have met on the dancefloor and are now married. It is also a DJ’s dream to play. Every set time is the best time to shine. You have musical freedom to share your craft to a thrilled audience. Things start happening at 6 a.m. and used to go till you cried “Uncle” which is really around 7 p.m. or when we drank the venue dry. It reminds me of Mardi Gras. People get dressed up and celebrate like it’s the last party of the year. Good news is the year is just starting. I am honored to be a part and can’t wait to rock the dance floor!
SFW: What are you looking forward to in 2017?
M: Building stronger relationships, meeting new people, staying out of politics, keeping things positive, and spreading my Chipper cheer.