A vinyl DJ since 1994, Andrew Serna, aka Dru Deep, has spent the past six years of his musical career curating his radio show “The Loop,” which showcases a wide variety of house, techno, funk, soul, and disco cuts with special guests every Monday on Stanford University’s KZSU 90.1.
Producing radio shows and DJing live both involve choosing the right tracks for the audience and keeping listeners engaged, and Dru Deep has learned that in radio, artists are often able to share a different side of themselves when there is no dancefloor.
“It’s a different situation when we aren’t focused on the dancefloor or a DJ booth,” he says. “We all have more of an individual story, and I feel I’ve gotten to know people better by sharing these experiences.”
We got a chance to talk with Dru Deep about his early DJ origins, his favorite record collection possessions, and the most memorable moments on “The Loop.”
SF Weekly: How does one start collecting records at the age of five?
Dru Deep: My parents had a decent-sized collection of vinyl. My brother and sister collected it, too. I was constantly in everyone’s stuff, so my mom started buying me my own. I still have the very first record player they gave me. I’d go grocery shopping with my mother regularly. At the end of each trip, she’d let me choose a record from the kids’ section.
SFW: Do you remember the first record you ever had?
DD: Besides Disney’s The Fox and the Hound, the first actual music record I owned was the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. It got played all of the time in our house! I would always steal it to keep it with my own, so my parents eventually bought another copy and let me have the older one.
SFW: You must have an extensive collection. What’s your most prized possession?
DD: That’s a difficult question. There are so many records that are important to me for different reasons. When my grandparents passed away, I was left with their whole collection. There isn’t a record in the stack that I value more than any other and I have love for every single one of them. Each one tells a story. If I had to pick just one, I would say Derrick Carter’s first full album Sound Patrol – Sweetened, No Lemon. This record came out in 1994. It was also the year I started DJing. Derrick was a big influence to me from early on. I was obsessed with buying every piece of wax he made. As a kid in high school, I’d have to save lunch money just so I could purchase a few records each week. When the album dropped, I was really bummed because I couldn’t afford it. I tried to save but, by the following week, it was gone.
Many years later, a good friend of mine started collecting vinyl. He found the album online and bought it for himself. One day out of the blue he decided to give it to me. I didn’t know what to say. He told me that he wanted me to have it because he knew how much I loved D.C. and he knew I’d appreciate it more than he ever could. It’s been about 15 years since he gave it to me. Every time I come across it while digging I can’t help but smile. I’m still amazed by his generosity. That album will always hold a special place in my heart for all of these reasons.
SFW: Congrats on almost six years of your radio show at KZSU! What have you learned about yourself and radio through this experience?
DD: One thing I’ve learned is that people share a different side of themselves in the studio and on the radio. It’s a different situation when we aren’t focused on the dance floor or a DJ booth. We all have more of an individual story, and I feel I’ve gotten to know people better by sharing these experiences. Another thing I’ve learned is how much you can help people by just sharing music and a vibe. There’s been many times over the years when people call in just to say “thanks” for putting them in a better place. Music always helps with a bad day or for anyone struggling to adjust back to the work week.
There was a very nice woman in her 80s who would call in to express how happy the music made her. She was thankful for the energy it gave her, and I’m happy knowing that something so small could help someone this much. I never know who might be listening and who might be needing it most.
SFW: Since the show airs Monday morning when people typically have the “Monday blues,” what elements do you incorporate into your show to keep it lively and special?
DD: I like to start the show with “feel-good” music and songs that have been sampled into house tracks. I like to give a little history about where the music has come from. I also like to mix it up between guests and styles to keep things interesting. With radio there is no dance floor. I think a lot of us get caught up with nothing but dance-floor-friendly tracks. There’s so much great music that gets overlooked for that reason and it slips through the cracks. I like to play tracks that might never make it into the club. Not all the songs are made to make you dance… some songs are made to make you think and feel.
SFW: Who has been one of your most memorable guests?
DD: There’s been quite a few. I don’t know if I could pick just one guest but Jeff Mills is up there. One thing that stands out is a memorable day. Somehow, I pulled off booking Motor City Drum Ensemble, Roman Flugel, and Pepe Bradock all on the same Monday. I opened up for MCDE on the earlier show called “Eclektronik Groove” with host Holt Sorenson. This is the show that got me started with radio. A couple of hours later, we had Pepe and Roman play on “The Big Love Show” with host Jack Wang. That day left me inspired, to say the least. It was an honor being in their presence. I learned so much from each one of them.
SFW: What are the top three tracks currently rotating on your personal playlist?
Dino Lenny & Doorly: “The Magic Room (LUKE SOLOMON’S ‘LIVE FOREVER’ REMIX)”
This is such a great track! It was released in November of 2016, and it still hasn’t left my digital crate. This always put a smile on people’s faces when I play it.
Carlo: “Infinite Improbability Drive”
This is one of those tracks that make me feel a thousand emotions at once. It’s one of those special tracks that makes me close my eyes and reflect back on life and its journey.
This was released in 1977 on their self-titled album. In the past couple of months, I’ve rediscovered this track while playing through the album. I know I heard it before when I was younger, but now I hear it differently. I catch myself playing it a lot around the house, while driving around, or at the end of a my shift at work. It always puts me in my happy place.
SFW: Your bio also states you are a beer snob. What can you recommend for a night out on the town that will still keep one dancing?
DD: Out of all the questions I think this is the easiest. The first thing that popped in my head was a Espresso Macchiato Milk Stout by San Francisco based Barebottle Brewing Company. They blend the beer with local Paramo’s Stargazer coffee. It has saved me a few times when I’ve needed the extras boost of caffeine to stay awake.
SFW: You’ll be playing Go BANG! this Saturday for their second annual tribute to Ron Hardy. What will you be featuring in your upcoming set?
DD: I’ll be playing a lot of disco, funky gems from the ’80s, and some tracks that give a nod of respect to Ron and the songs he used to play.
SFW: And what’s your favorite part about Bay Area nightlife?
DD: I love how close a family we all are. Every time I go out, I’m guaranteed to see a familiar face. Even if it’s been long periods of time where you don’t see people, we all pick up where we left off and reconnect by the same love for this music.