Tucker & Bloom caught up with DJ APT ONE of the Philadelphyinz. Easily spotted by his moustache, APT ONE is well known in Philadelphia as a force both behind the turntables and the mixing board. Read about how he first got into music, what he’s been busy working on, and the origin of the name Philadelphyinz (rumor has it the name has roots in the Mayan calendar). Embrace the man behind the handlebar moustache, and read on.
-THE BAG MESSENGER
THE BAG MESSENGER: How did you first get into music?
DJ APT ONE: Some of my early memories involve my parents singing to me before I’d go to sleep. I used to love to improvise my own songs. I remember my dad singing Mississippi John Hurt’s “Irene Goodnight.” But he tactfully removed the verse about jumping in the river and drowning.
My dad is a huge music nerd. I still go home and burn CDs from his collection. He went to SXSW with me this year – it was awesome. I got a call from him over the winter where he said “yeah I think there are a few dozen shows I want to see in Austin this year, I’m gonna go.” He has a really good grasp on what I do in music – it can be awfully hard to explain DJing and production to people who grew up before that was a thing.
THE BAG MESSENGER: How did the philadelphyinz come about? Where does the name come from?
DJ APT ONE: Oh man. I get this question a lot and there’s no real quick answer so here goes.
So in 2005 I was doing some parties where I had a string of my buddies that I grew up with in Pittsburgh down in Philly rocking with me. Philadelphyinz is sort of a portmanteau of the words “Philadelphia” and “yinz.” Yinz is the equivalent of “y’all” in Pittsburghese, which is a really strange dialect of English with all kinds of weird words. You don’t really hear it outside of Western PA, Eastern Ohio and West Virginia. It’s pretty wild. Anyways.
Ultimately, Skinny and I struck up a partnership this way – we hadn’t DJed together much since we were in high school but he had moved to NYC from St. Louis and I had him down DJing a bit and we really clicked. We used the name for the party because it had these two geographic influences – it was Pittsburghers in Philly. We didn’t really expect to have the party continue for so long and we certainly didn’t intend to name ourselves that – nobody can spell the fucking name and most people have no clue what it means. Other people started referring to us by the name of our party and after a while we just stopped fighting it because people knew what it was and the name was out there. Skinny and I have played in dozens of cities as Philadelphyinz and we run a record label together and still do that party (and others like Hot Mess) together til this day. I love that dude like a brother – as in “that’s my dude but i wanna put him in a headlock half the time.” I think he’d say the same about me.
THE BAG MESSENGER: When did you get involved with production?
DJ APT ONE: I’ve been producing since the early 2000s, and it was just a natural progression from DJing. I spend a lot of time producing – making remixes for other artists, making edits and remixes for DJ use and making my own original production. I have had a lot of success with my edits and the RCMP records I’ve been doing the last couple years and I have dozens of tracks ready to go when they find the right home.
THE BAG MESSENGER: We’re you always involved with collecting music?
DJ APT ONE: It’s all about Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh. One of the biggest all-vinyl stores in the world. It was on my walk home from high school. I’d grab some pizza or some Chinese and just post up there for hours.
THE BAG MESSENGER: How has serato changed the way you get down?
DJ APT ONE: I’d be lying if I said it hadn’t changed the way I do my thing, but I am probably on the more puristic side of digital DJ culture. I held out against switching to digital until 2007 and I watched the way the tail was beginning to wag the dog, and I decided that although I had to go digital in order to play the music I was making (and save my lower back from destruction), I’d try to stay very focused on keeping my musical identity as somebody who trusts his own musical instincts. Having access to such a huge volume of digital music makes it easy to be lazy or be a trend fucker. I’m a digger and I like funky music, and I gotta remember to keep those things core to my identity.
THE BAG MESSENGER: Do you still buy records? What are you looking for these days?
DJ APT ONE: I do- I mostly look for good disco, house or funk gems and look for sample sources. I’ll pick up anything I think I can play and if it’s cool but maybe not playable, I’ll edit it. I also collect a few esoteric things – Pentangle-type British electric folk, old Bob Wills style country. Weird shit.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What do you listen to for fun?
DJ APT ONE: My favorite thing to listen to for fun is Andre the Giant and Butter on 105.3 WDAS on Sunday nights. I love listening to cats who have been playing funk, soul and hip hop for like 40 years play that shit live in a nightclub. I love listening to how they treat particular records and I always come away from that show with a new respect for certain classic records and what they can do if used effectively.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What would you be doing if you weren’t a DJ?
DJ APT ONE: I’d be in grad school. I dropped out to do this full time. I had an itch I couldn’t scratch and I knew that if I didn’t take my chances as a working DJ and producer NOW, the window would close and I’d regret it later. Grad school’s not going anywhere and as far as I know I’m not getting dumber as time goes by.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What are some of your places to visit? Favorite crowds to play for?
DJ APT ONE: The best crowds I’ve played for (outside of Philly) are most definitely Providence, DC, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Cleveland. I don’t know what it is but folks in those cities always go bezerk! My favorite crowd to play for is probably the gay, black over 30 crowd but I’m not picky – anybody who is open and down to have a good time is my kinda party person.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What’s the key to packing for the road?
DJ APT ONE: Pack efficiently and make sure you have easy access to all your esoteric DJ electronics so you can take them out beforehand at airport security. It saves you a lot of time. Also, do anything in your power to avoid checking a bag.
THE BAG MESSENGER: Every DJ has a horror story or two….what is the worst thing to happen at a gig?
DJ APT ONE: This is another question that a short answer doesn’t do justice.
I was DJing a Beautiful Decay magazine release party in NYC with Burnso. Must have been 03 or 04. He and I had a group called Myron Cope Experience up until 05 or so. We played a set with lots of Kraftwerk, Black Moon, Barry White and probably Aaliyah acapellas over Ante Up. We rolled deep on wax with mashups before anybody called them that (and before Serato made it silly to bother mixing two records together live for 3 minutes).
Anyway, we get done playing our set and these guys from Madball come on after us and DJ. They just slam in a bunch of hardcore records. I had no idea who they were or what DMS crew or anything was. I still know pretty much zero about hardcore. Never really cared for it or knew anybody who did when I was young. I found out after the fact that these guys are pretty much legendary head cracking motherfuckers.
Our boys from Philly who came up were friends with my buddy Dos Noun, who was also performing. These kids were complete degenerates, and they start getting flipped out like “THIS MUSIC FUCKING SUCKS PLAY SOME RAP” etc., They’re climbing up into the booth and getting in these Madball guys faces.
All of a sudden I see Dos get sucker punched by some hardcore dude and the dance floor basically turns into a big riot. We gotta go rush to get our boys’ backs. Big rumble goes down, nothing too serious, but then half the Philly kids get thrown out of their own show and this dude Rooney is in front of the old Downtime in the middle of 30th Street in Manhattan waving a crowbar at his best friend’s manager for kicking them out. Several of the guys who were on “our” side were dust-head criminal miscreants that I would never vouch for in real life but basically we had no choice. They are basically waiting outside the club for their own managers and these DMS dudes until cooler heads prevailed and the left. It was ugly.
We rode the train to the Bronx with 5 damn crates of records at like 5AM covered in blood and beer. My friend Annie was vomited on in the club at some point. Real human wreckage. We go way the fuck up in Riverdale near that IHOP everybody knows. So we copped some 40s at a bodega and crushed em. Then we get to Annie’s apartment – it’s the size of a shoebox and me and Burns had to sleep head to toe on the same tiny futon. There wasn’t even floor space for one person. Burnso copped a can of Spaghetti-O’s at the bodega and ate the thing cold and farted the rest of the fucking night
That last part is the real horror story. Game over.
THE BAG MESSENGER: Where do you find inspiration to do what you do?
DJ APT ONE: The streets of Philly. The bar around the corner from my crib in West Philly has a house band that plays George McCrae’s “I Get Lifted” almost every week when I’m waiting for the 9PM trolley to the gig – that’s all the inspiration I need.
The DJs in this town blow my mind. Watching Cosmo Baker or Brendan Bring’em rock it is inspirational in and of itself. I also get a lot of inspiration from watching my homies do what they do – all my friends teach me a lot about music when I watch them play. You can’t suck and make it in Philly.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What are you working on now? What can we be looking for in the future?
DJ APT ONE: I just cut a remix for my boy Nick Nack from Austin, and I’m working on getting some of my huge collection of bootleg funk and disco edits out there on wax and digital with my boys Eleven and Cosmo from the Rub and my homie DJ Audit out of Canada. I have a project with a bunch of ex-P-Funk members that will hopefully see the light of day soon as well.
I have a lot of cool stuff coming out of Young Robots camp (my label). We’ve got a new single from one of my groups, RCMP, as well as records by Skinny Friedman, New York’s Pumpkin Patch, Relative Q (also of RCMP), Detroit’s Frankie Bank$, Dash Speaks and myself in the next year, so stay tuned. YoungRobots.com all day baby.
THE BAG MESSENGER: What do you think DJ culture is going to look like in the next ten years? (Will the DJ become more of a performer or less?)
DJ APT ONE: I can’t really say what is in store for DJ culture. Digital DJing tools have really made the game less about what music you have and more about what you do with it. There will always be toolish DJs out there who promote their asses off, and that doesn’t bother me, but if Philly has taught me anything, it’s that often times, the cream rises to the top. The people who can present a unique musical aesthetic to a crowd will always make waves.