Growing up in the Bay Area, Hoj first got a taste for the nightlife and DJ lifestyle over two decades ago during a time he remembers was full of “Adidas jumpsuits, underground raves, and DJ Dan mixtapes.” While the days of tapes and CDs are long gone, the iconic Sony Discman will always be a fondly remembered item for Hoj. After all, it was that portable player that served as a stand-in alongside his lone Technics 1200 turntable until he could afford to complete the pair and jump-start his DJ career. Combining his DJ practice with the experiences of carousing at club nights like HomeBase, Spundae and Qoöl, he soon became a fixture behind the decks and one of the first residents of Opel Productions.
These days, his musical endeavors are more concentrated on serving as a resident DJ for All Day I Dream, a collective, record label, and party started by underground house DJs and producers Lee Burridge and Matthew Dekay. In recent years, the house/techno party has propelled from national to international fame, including upcoming dates in Barcelona and Beirut. We got a chance to chat with Hoj about his DJ style, favorite Bay Area record stores, and his upcoming set at All Day. All Day I Dream in the Park takes place with Lee Burridge and Hoj headlining with special guests this Sunday, [5/22] from 1pm – 7pm at Hellman Hollow Meadow in Golden Gate Park.
How would you describe your DJ style?
I just play a wide range of house music – I try to feel the crowd and rely on instinct to put together an organic flow of music. I think there's usually a funky or deep edge to things. Lee (Burridge) calls it “Hoj House”, [laughs].
Take us back to your early DJ days. What's the biggest difference you see between then and now?
The biggest difference I see is how DJs get music. Music is primarily digital now – the days of lugging around 80-100 records from gig to gig are long gone for me. There are huge benefits to digital music, like convenience and access. But I miss record shopping. In my early days, Wednesday afternoons were when record shops would get their shipments of new music – and I’d physically be there waiting, along with seemingly every other DJ in town. Those afternoons would turn into listening parties – a bunch of local DJs standing around listening stations in a small record shop and carefully selecting the five to ten records they could afford (vinyl was more expensive than mp3s). The guys working at the record shops knew your tastes and would pull records for you. More experienced guys would tell stories and help you along. You got a real sense that you were part of a local community, and that community had a big impact on the music you played.
Since you have such a rich musical history in the Bay Area, what are or were some of your favorite record stores?
Spundae Records and Tweekin in the Lower Haight were my go-to shops. Both are closed now, unfortunately.
What is your most prized vinyl possession? It’s probably not worth anything, but there’s a Radiohead bootleg I picked up 15 years ago at Wax in L.A. It just says Radio “Head of the House” on it along with the Radiohead logo. I don’t know much more about it, but I’d be sad to see that one go.
What has been the best DJ experience of your life?
I don’t think I can select just one! It's been a great ride so far. Certain sets at Burning Man stand out – the Opulent Temple, the Robot Heart, and the Panda Lounge.
Tell us a little about All Day I Dream. How did you get involved with the party?
Lee Burridge told me about the idea in New York when he was still developing it. He wanted to do Sunday daytime parties featuring the sound we were both really into – the more melodic side of house music. And I wanted to help in any way I could. I helped with the visual artwork and as a DJ.
For those of us that haven't been, what are the vibes like at All Day?
All Day I Dream events are full of smiles and warmth. The music, the outdoor daytime environment, the amazing sound system, the stage production, and the beautiful people all come together to create a magical experience. The vibe is really special – I think that’s why people are so drawn to the events and the music around the world.
What are some of the song selections you'll be playing at the party?
I’ve set aside lots of new music that feels right for the occasion, but I’m never quite sure what I’ll actually play on the day. I’ll probably play some upcoming stuff on the All Day I Dream label, and from producers like Daniel Ray, Matthias Meyer, YokoO, Powel, and Gorje Hewek & Izhevski.