Interview: DJ Menelik
by Winston "Stone" Ford
Atlanta's own DJ Menelik has been spinnin' tunes since the since the late 80's. Menelik has played for such celebs as Prince, The Neptunes, Janet Jackson, P Diddy, Lenny Kravitz, and Jermaine Dupri. Blending everything from Lil' John to Michael Jackson in his set, Menelik is known for known for his magnetic presence and fashion style.
How did you get started in the business?
I got into the business as a musician and a dancer.
You've worked for some heavy hitters. How did you get connected with P Diddy and Lenny Kravitz?
I worked around huge pop icons for years. I was heavily involved in the Atlanta nightlife as a dancer which led to working the doors at all the hotspots then DJing. One night Dallas Austin brought Diddy out to hear me DJ, now he???s a regular where I spin.
It seems that you have an excellent fashion style, who are your favorite designers or brands?
I???m a HUGE fan of Hedi Slimane and all the stuff he does for Dior. I was really into Tom Ford for Gucci for years. I also like Y-3 and Dsquared.
Any fashion tips for the fellas?
Yeah, trash the jerseys and long Ts!!! Eww! (I love that question).
Who or what are you musical influences?
The first would be Bruce Lee, Prince, Depeche Mode, Run DMC, Africa Bambata, Kraftwerk, Grandmaster Flash, Billy Idol, Jazzy Jeff, and Muhammad Ali. I admire there ability to translate their passions to the masses.
Alright, this should be an easy one: list the top 10 tracks on your iPod right now?
- Disco Inferno – 50 Cent
- Take Me Out – Franz Ferdinand
- Subculture – New Order
- Didn???t Know I Love You (Until I Saw Yyou Rock n??? Roll) – Planet Patrol
- Rock Box- Run DMC
- Hypnotized – Biggie
- Promises Promises – Naked Eyes
- DMSR – Prince
- Hate It or Love It – Game and 50 Cent
- Holla Back Girl – Gwen Stephani
Who or what do you think is the “next big thing” in terms of urban music?
A better question is what???s next in ???POP??? music, as you can see for years ???Urban music??? has dominated the pop charts, for example: DMX , Jay Z, 50 Cent to name a few. So what was once a niche market is now ???POP??? music. So I think the next big trend in POP music is the overt use of 80s influences across the board R&B, Hip Hop, and Rock. You???ll begin to see more of Africa Bambata???s influence, Prince, and even early Jelly Bean Benitez elements. You can already hear through what Jazzy Fae did with Ciara and early Electro sound. Andre 3000 and Gwen Stephani are using Prince???s influences in their music, and my favorite rock bands Franz Ferdinand and the Bravery have a very New Order electro pop 80s sound. My production company the ???Electronic Herd??? focuses on bringing out those elements as well.
What is your favorite City to DJ in?
To be honest I love the energy right here in ATL! For what I do as a DJ, this is the best as far as crowd energy, and the women really get into it here! (smiling)
What's your favorite club track of all time and why?
Planet Rock or Billy Jean, Planet Rock because it was so revolutionary in it???s time. It kind of set off a whole explosion of new sound and it was truly ???New Wave???. Billy Jean because it is the most universal dance song ever, no matter where or whom I???m DJing to this song brings everyone together regardless of age, gender, or color.
What advice do you have for any up and coming Dj's who are trying to make it in the game?
Learn your basics first! The basics to being a good DJ are feeling the music then blending the music or placing songs together. I???m amazed at how badly some of the new jack DJs mix music. Their music placements are all wrong, and they scratch for no reason. I???m a party DJ, so if that???s what you want to do, learn to keep the energy flowing, learn to tell a story through your sets!
Where can our readers see you next?
They can catch me at Compound night club in Atlanta (Voted #1 Best New Club in America!) and the Winter Music Conference where I will perform on May 7th! Keep posted. I have booked performances in Italy, Los Angeles, and Miami. Dates aren???t confirmed yet, you can catch the exact dates on my website at www.djmenelik.com.