[Photo Credit: Bryan Mette]
Making steady waves in the sonic playground.
It’s not every day that I get to catch up with a legendary DJ while hurricane winds surge throughout the northeast beneath a full moon. Talk about a harmonic convergence of epic proportions. New York native Justin Strauss is certainly someone I dub a seasoned vet in the DJ/producer circle, with a resume filled with major club residencies and a palette of remixes that have probably made their way to your iPod. Besides being known for his distinctive ability to meld uncommon sounds that defy the typical house, disco, and techno characteristics, Justin was gracious enough to share some of his precious time and insights with me despite the hectic external conditions.
What did you have for breakfast today?
OJ, oatmeal, and definitely coffee.
Please describe your sound for those who aren’t familiar.
I’d leave others to describe it. But a natural mix of all the music I love and has influenced me over the years.
What makes your sound so distinctive?
I’ve been DJing and making music for a while now, so I have a large music library in my head that I can draw from.
What’s your musical background? Did you grow up playing any instruments?
I was the lead singer in a band called Milk n Cookies when I was 17. I got into playing keyboards and drum machines later on.
What has been your favorite room to play in?
I’ve been lucky enough to have played at some of the best and legendary clubs in New York City like Mudd Club, AREA, Tunnel, Limelight, MK, and recently Le Baron, Le Bain, and subMercer, which was very special.
While playing, do you prefer an intimate basement or an Ibiza-style club?
I prefer a small to medium size club. Love that connection with the crowd, but it’s fun to do a big one every once in awhile.
What’s been going on in your studio these days?
Been busy doing remixes and original projects with Bryan Mette under our Whatever/Whatever moniker and also been working with Eddie Mars on a new project called a/jus/ted, hoping to have some new original releases is the new year with both.
You’ve been doing this for a while now, what advice do you give young DJs and producers who are fighting against the endless waves of electronic music artists?
Just be true to what you love to do and not try to make something you think will be a hit. It’s the stuff that sounds different and stands out that makes an impact.
Where can we find you on a Saturday night when you’re not playing?
At a club, listening to a DJ I like and hopefully getting inspired.
How about on a Sunday afternoon?
Hanging out with my daughters.
What has been a milestone moment or experience for you in your career?
Again, I’ve been very lucky to have been doing this for awhile and have been able to do some amazing things. But having my first remix that went to number one on the Billboard chart was exciting, as well as this year playing at PS1Warm Up at the Brooklyn Museum for the closing of the Keith Haring Exhibit, and opening up for New Order at Roseland. But the smaller parties at subMercer have been some great times as well.
Do you think the Mayans are right about 2012?
Are they some new remixers? Haven’t heard of them
If so, what are you doing in your last 24 hours?
Don’t know about the Mayans, but Hurricane Sandy is coming our way. My family and friends are first in my thoughts and then my records. Want to keep them both safe and dry.
Many thanks to Justin for his time and thoughtful responses. You can catch him in the flesh as he takes control of the basement at Good Life this Friday for another Social Studies celebration. Check out the mix below to get inspired and carry you through the remainder of the week. Stay safe out there.
28 KINGSTON ST.