DJ Miles Medina on Surviving Day Parties, Birthdays, and DJ-Only Islands

Photo by dave ram @astronautbear_

When asked about his DJing style, Bay Area DJ Miles Medina likes to use the word “aggressive,” but not in the sense of repeatedly screaming his own name into the microphone or launching baked goods onto the dancefloor. Instead, Medina relies on his ability to read a crowd as he weaves between tracks while finding spots to display his technical skills.

“Most of my favorite DJs are from New York and the East Coast, so I take from that,” he says. “There’s a real human element involved that you can feel which is really important — a lot of cutting going on and bringing in quick breaks of songs to bring in the next one.”

Medina first touched turntables at the age of 13 and gained recognition through local DJ battles. By 18, he’d become a regular around the Bay Area club circuit. Today, his gigs take him worldwide, and you can also hear him on the radio every Saturday night on 99.7 NOW from 1 a.m.-3 a.m. on his show, The Bassment.  Catch his DJ sets tonight, Thursday [09/08] at Temple SF, Saturday [09/10] at Pure in Sunnyvale, and Sunday [09/11] for a daytime brunch party at Cease and Desist.

What’s your DJ story? 
I was a kid who naturally gravitated to it for some reason. I grew up in a household of music. My dad plays guitar, and music is a huge thing on my mom’s side of the family. I thought it was normal for that to be a kid’s obsession. Turntables were my instruments of choice, and the love for it just continues to grow.

Since you’ve been DJing for quite some time, what’s it like to be able to say it’s a full-time job for you?
I think its everyone’s dream to do what they love as a profession. I’m just blessed to have the hunger to want to keep progressing. I’m grateful everyday for it, while always wanting to grow.

In your opinion, what are the keys to staying successful in the competitive DJ game?
To just focus on being the best you that you can. Some people worry about others too much while they can spend that energy and focus working on improving themselves. You can never be better at someone at what they do, but you are definitely the best you.

How did you get involved in the radio show The Bassment?
DJ E-rock started this show on another station years ago featuring the big club DJs at the time like Vice, Stonerokk, etc. He asked me to do a guest spot after I opened for him at a club when I was like 17. A few years, couple name changes, and many stations later it is what it is today. And, by many stations, I mean its now syndicated in a few cities, and I’m working on more by the year’s end. We’ve had Diplo, A-Trak, Major Lazer, Flosstradamus, and a bunch more do guest mixes for us, so I’m pretty proud of what the show has become after all these years.

If you were stuck on an island with three DJs, who would they be?
Kid Capri: He’s forever my favorite DJ.
Z-Trip: He can handle any mood and probably has every song ever made, so that’ll come in handy on an island.
Anna Lunoe: Because we can’t all be dudes on this island.

This Sunday, you DJ a brunch party. What’s the main difference between DJing daytime vs. nighttime parties?
The daytime energy is way different than night. The weather is different — obviously it’s brighter — and so the music can be different to go with the vibe. They’re both good in their own ways, but I’m looking forward to playing a day party this week since it’s been a while. Also, I think I can get away with playing a little more diversely in the daytime.

What has been your favorite memory of playing a daytime party?
I can’t think of anything appropriate to say here [laughs].

Fine, how about a memorable party?
I can’t think of any crazy party experiences recently, but most memorable was playing a festival on the beach in the Philippines with Panic City. It was both of our first times there, and the festival was so fun, and also my dad was there for the first time seeing me DJ.

The Sunday party is also a birthday celebration for CLAKSAARB. You’ve probably been a part of a few birthday parties in your lifetime, so what’s your best strategy to survive a birthday party?
Have the right people around you, drink water, take your B vitamins, make sure you eat, and leave your worries at home (or not even at home). Just have fun.

What’s coming up for you in terms of production? What type of tracks are you hoping to put out?
When I was putting out music, I think I was taking it way too serious and it got to the point where it was like work and not fun, and I am not about that. I had to take a step back, and now, mentally, spiritually, creatively I’m in an amazing place, so I’m just going to be putting out what feels right. No specific genre…just some fun stuff. Might even be under a different name. Who knows?

And what’s your current guilty pleasure track?
I have this Spice Girls remix of “Say You’ll Be There” that’s pretty sick. I haven’t played it out yet, but I think this weekend is the time.

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