State your stage name and profession for the record.
DJ Umami, professional DJ.
I think that’s the first time I called myself that.
How long have you been DJing? Do you remember your first DJ gig?
I’ve owned turntables for a little over 12 years. Originally just bought them to let off some steam during a really crazy period in my life. The good homie Cutso was patient enough to show me how to beat match and I just kept going.
I was working the door at Gwrex’s party at Poleng called Strut. One day he asked me if I was down to do an opening set the following month. I laughed at first, and he was like, “why not? Fuck it, man.” So I did. That was my first gig. Strut in May 2008.
What’s your favorite DJ era in the Bay Area and why?
I don’t really want to give away my age, but as soon as I was old enough to go out, I was drooling over sets from Music Machine when it was at SOFA lounge. I can’t really pinpoint a specific time, but I know that past vibe is still hanging on by a thread. Where DJs were playing golden era hip hop, soul and funk and it was nutty from front to back.
I remember going there by myself just to catch The Bangerz play. I would also hit up PST a lot when it was at Levende (now Brick & Mortar) and followed it to 330 Ritch. In Oakland, I remember catching The Oakland Faders at Luka’s and wondering where has this party been all my life. I used to follow most of Fran Boogie’s Parties, so I was no stranger to the legendary Triple Threat DJs.
You’re on stage in front of all your heroes and you gotta rock a 10 minute vinyl set to prove your worthiness. What records do you choose?
I’m extremely blessed to know and call most of my influential DJs my big brothers. I’ve learned so much and have been put on by them. When I’m up and playing with some of these cats, trust that I’m nervous AF. The thought of trying to find self-worth next to (usually) men that have been killing the game for years gets me sweating bullets and is a setup for failure.
The only thing that gets me in the right headspace is usually focusing on the crowd rather than which DJ is behind me or in the building listening to my selection or transitions. When the crowd is fuckin with you, that’s when you prove your worthiness. I know that doesn’t directly answer your question, but I guess it’s because it depends.
“When the crowd is fuckin’ with you, that’s when you prove your worthiness.”
Peaches Crew has undoubtedly become an institution. Talk about the history and influence y’all have had and what it means to be a part of such an important collective in Bay Area DJ history.
The Peaches Crew was started by Masaye Waugh at Skylark in SF. She wanted to do a weekly party that featured women DJs, so we were handpicked by her and essentially became a family more than a crew. The core group was Deeandriod, Lady Fingaz, DJ That Girl, and myself. We’ve then since added members Pony P, Deejay Andre, and Lady Ryan and some have also left because they’ve had to move. In our going on 8 years together, we’ve established multiple residencies around The Bay that we all rotate.
It’s been so important to have theses badass women in my corner in this male-dominated field, as they have been such a motivating force within my life (I know I just quoted Aaliyah). From time to time, we get together in a non-club environment and shoot the shit, eat, drink, share music, have mini scratch sessions, and update each other with our dating lives. It’s so hard to get anything productive done though because we have so much fun when we’re together.
Favorite burrito joint?
I try to stay away from burritos these days because they make me hella sleepy. They are, in fact nature’s giant sleeping pill. But if I’m going to spoil myself, Papalote’s adobo burrito with avocado, extra Papalote Salsa please.
Curry or Kobe?
No disrespect to the Black Mamba and the career that he’s had, but Curry all day. Curry’s already had one more MVP awards than Kobe has, one being unanimous, and his career is still pretty young. But, people would say my opinion is totally biased, which it is.
What’s one of your favorite places to go unplug and unwind on the West Coast?
I love going up to wine country for little staycations. I recently visited Indian Springs Resort in Calistoga for a couple days after a seven gig in four days weekend, and it was just what I needed to reboot. But most of the time, I really love just being at home chillin’ with a cup of tea.
What’s a current favorite album you’re listening to that you think you’ll still be listening to 10 years from now and why?
This changes a lot. I’ve had Goldlink’s “Crew” on heavy rotation lately. I tend to lean towards R&B rather than hip hop. I feel like it’s a perfect balance of both, or maybe just enough for me. Music that is timeless versus trendy tends to resonate more with me, so I get juiced when I find soulful artists these days.
Drop some shout outs and where folks can find you on social media.
Shout out to my sisters in the Peaches Crew. Follow us on IG to stay updated with our shenanigans @peaches_crew.
Shout out to my kids, Demarcus & Ajrien because they’re awesome and maybe one of their friends will read this and my kids will finally think I’m a little cool…or not. Whatever. Love you guys.