When I arrived at the Hoxsey Street house of Chuck Kollmer ’10 last Thursday, I found him hard at work in the kitchen. As natural with pots and pans as he is with his turntables, Chuck, a.k.a. DJ Deeds, likes his chicken curry infused with coconut milk and his beats infused with heavy bass. We sat down to talk about Chuck’s views on DJing at the College, French Situationists and how he really feels about Miley Cyrus.
You seem to play a pretty eclectic mix in a lot of your DJ sets. Is there a particular kind of music that’s influencing your style now?
Right now I’ve been trying to branch out into different kinds of rhythms. I’ve been into dub reggae, trying to get into dubstyle and heavy bass. I like Brazilian-style music. I’ve been thinking about putting their percussion instruments into house beats.
And what about non-musical influences?
Yeah, a lot of the stuff that I read. I’ve been reading a lot about French Situationists, people who try to take art back from the commodity form and to make it something that matters in real space, which I think DJing is cool for because you bring people into an actual room where they’re together. So I try to create that kind of sonic environment.
So would you say that when you’re playing you have certain goals?
I try to dig something out that hasn’t been produced before. DJing is really just taking two sound sources and mixing them, beat-matching, creating the flow of the beat so the beat doesn’t change.
When was DJing something that you realized you wanted to do?
I listened to Daft Punk’s album Discovery hundreds of times. I was in high school and saw them live, and I started messing around with hip hop beats and stuff.
How did you start DJing at Williams?
I got started sophomore year when the guys living at the Slippery B asked me to DJ for some of their parties. From there I got requests from private parties on campus and some from school-sponsored events.
Do you think Williams has helped or hurt you with your DJing?
It’s a mixed bag, really. There aren’t a lot of other people DJing here, so I can get away with what I want to get away with. But there also aren’t any clubs here . . . So, it would be cool to be in a more metropolitan setting where there are more people who get excited about electronic music.
So what do you make of the Miley Cyrus phenomenon at Williams? Is there a party in the USA?
I’ve heard that song entirely too many times. I’ll give you a little breakdown of the lyrics. The reason that that’s the hook, “Party in the USA,” is that it’s a super appealing, meaningless thing that people can relate to. It’s like, “Oh, I’m an American, I like to party!”
I put my hands up . . .
Yeah, everyone does. It doesn’t really say anything about . . . anything really.
But isn’t dub-step appealing to the same kind of common experience?
Yeah, but it’s on a different level. Dub-step, it’s very different in that you’re not gonna hear a jam you’ve listened to before. The common thing is bass. That’s the experience, the low-end frequency that hits you right in the chest.
So are there any mainstream artists that do that to you?
I’ve always been a big fan of Jay-Z, especially Reasonable Doubt. I think Timbaland is a sick producer. J Dilla made some great beats. But there’s a phenomenon that happens to people when they’re drinking where, “I know this song” becomes “I love this song.” People confuse familiarity with affinity. But there’s another completely different type of excitement you can get from music when you encounter something new. That’s definitely something I aspire to do, to give people something new.
Any upcoming plans we should know about?
I’m trying to organize an outdoor festival out by Stone Hill with all different kinds of music and food. I’m trying to get a really big sound system and any student group that wants to set up a table up there for food would be welcome.