In the Spotlight with SLAMjamz VP DJ Johnny Juice

November 6th, 2010

In the spotlight tonight for our Exclusive Denon interview, we have Emmy Nominated Composer, Producer, Musician, Turntablist, Engineer, Johnny Juice. Mr. Juice is also a co-host in ANDYOUDON'TSTOP! Radio show on WBAI NY with Chuck D and Wildman Steve. Currently, he's working on a new Solo DJ Johnny Juice album, on a new Leaders of the New School album and on a new Cold Crush Brothers album.
So without further ado, let's check out Mr. Juice's interview.

Hi Johnny, can you tell us something about yourself?

My name is Johnny Juice. I am a Producer, DJ, Turntablist, Engineer, Composer, and Musician.  I was born in NYC and was raised in the Bronx during the formation of what is now called Hip-Hop.  I learned the arts of Graffiti and B-Boying (breakdancing) there before moving to Long Island in 1982.  While living in Long Island, I won a DJ contest a local Hip-Hop crew was having.  This group would later be known as Public Enemy.  I currently live in Queens but my recording studio and offices are located in Chuck D's house in Roosevelt, Long Island.

When did you first decide to become a musician? What inspired you?

I always wanted to be a musician.  My grandfather and my uncle were percussionists.   I grew up in a very musical family.  Our neighbor used to play piano with Joe Cuba.  I grew up playing bongos, congas, and various other percussive instruments.  My older cousin Benji was a DJ.  After seeing him mix (pre-scratching era) I knew that's what I wanted to do.  After seeing Grandmaster Flash djing in a park near Patterson Projects in the Bronx, I was convinced that DJing was my calling.

When did you first fall in love with music?

My mother tells me that when I was a child, I stand up in my crib and dance to this song from a Crest toothpaste commercial that featured Tito Puente.  I do not remember the commercial but I do remember the rhythm and the melody of the song.  It's funny because I could be fast asleep but the melody would wake me up!  There was always music in my household.  The Bronx was a melting pot of cultures and sounds.  I would hear soul, R&B, Salsa, Merengue, Kompa, Disco, Funk…you name it.  And I loved it all.  You could say that I was born with music in my soul.

Can you describe to us your perfect listening experience? What is your idea of SOUND Bliss?

My perfect listening experience is to throw on an album (vinyl!!) and listen to it while I read the cover, inside cover, and liner notes.  I miss that about music.   With today's music there are no more liner notes or extended credits.  Maybe it's because you can't fit it all inside a CD cover or there isn't any real downloadable artwork for current music (besides just a cover graphic.)

My idea of sound bliss is to be able to listen to absolutely nothing.  In the absence of sound, I create my best music. Call it the 'calm before the storm' if you will.  THEN, my first strike of a drum or key of a piano, or better yet the scratch of a record…it is the start of a musical tsunami unleashed from my brain.

When did you first hear about Denon?

I would see Denon gear in almost every bar or club that I would spin at.  The Denon rack mounted dual-CD unit was and still is a standard in the DJ industry.  While I was never a big CD DJ, I would often bring CD's as a back-up (to my vinyl) and still do.  I first heard of Denon as a commercial product.  I used to have a Denon receiver back in the day.

Do you now or have you ever owned a piece of DENON equipment?

I have owned a Denon receiver in the past.  I currently own 2 DN-S3700 Media Players, 1 DN-X1600 and 1 DN-X600 mixer.  I also own a DN-HC1000S

Tell us about your most memorable DENON moment?

Well, my most memorable moment happened at a Denon in-store demo a few years back.  I was asked by the man doing the demo if I used CD's when I dj'ed.  I said no.  I said that I would NEVER DJ with anything but VINYL!  I didn't like the Pioneer CDJ's because of their stagnant platter and it deterred me from using CD turntables.  It didn't 'feel' right.  The man then said, 'Try these.'  They were the DN-3700's.   I did try them, and they were GREAT.  The man doing the demo was Silvio!  Needless to say, I am HOOKED on the DN-S3700's!  Especially since now the new firmware allows me to control my DVS.  My turntables are seeing a lot less use these days!

Who are your favorite artists today?

My favorite artists?  Hmmm. Outkast is always cutting edge.  I dig B.O.B., Sade's new stuff is great.  I have always been a fan of Lalo Schifrin's music.  As far as DJ's go, you can't go wrong with the classics!  Jazzy Jay is still one of the best to rock a crowd.  Rob Swift, Qbert, D-Styles, and Jazzy Jeff still kill it live and can transition beautifully between party rocking and turntablism.  Rod Hui is one of my favorite engineers ever! He is also a great producer.  He can make anything sound great and is one of my mentors.  Eddie Kramer is also someone I have looked up to as far as Producer/Engineers go.  I love jazz and salsa so some of my faves are Pete Cozey, Phil Upchurch, Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ray Barretto, George Benson, the Fania All-Stars, Earth Wind and Fire…wow. The list is endless.

Who is doing work today that really inspires you?

I am inspired by life.  I walk outside and see a little child playing and that makes me want to write a piece of music.
What do you think the future of music holds in store for us? How will music be different in the future?

Hopefully, there will be a bottoming out of this over-commercialized, manufactured 'soul' music and we will get back to real musicianship. While it exists now, it is very music under-represented on commercial radio.
If you could own a piece of sound equipment that you currently don't have, something that would enhance your music or home theater experience –what would that be?

I don't currently own a Blu-Ray DVD player!  It's weird that I have a state-of-the-art recording set up in my studio but I'm still rocking regular DVD's.  My surround setup isn't bad but I don't have HDMI on my current surround receiver.  I do have it on my Plasma and my cable box so I guess that would be next!  New surround system and Blu-Ray, I can hear the wife already!

Here's some of DJ Johnny Juice's stuff:

• Co-scored the movie On The Shoulders of Giants along with Herbie Hancock and Wynton Marsalis -Â