Music

Interview: DJ Will Eastman

by Winston "Stone" Ford

eastman

If you didn’t know, Will Eastman is one the DMV’s most prolific DJs. The name is in your consciousness, because Eastman has been on his grind in the city for a hot minute, opening for such acts as Moby and MSTRKRFT. This FRIDAY marks the annual Blisspop EXTRAGAGANZA this FRIDAY with Tittsworth, Nadastrom, Dmerit, and SPECIAL GUESTS. Check him at Blisspop.com or @willeastman on Twitter. Buy tickets here.

So yeah man, you’ve been in the game for a while, doing indie rock and such, how did you get started DJing??

I played in bands and spun music at house parties in high school, did college radio, etc. but didn’t really step behind the decks until grad school when I started hosting parties with bands and DJs at the old Black Cat. The notion was to pair like-minded bands and DJs. I picked up DJing duties and quickly fell in love with it. Since 2007, I’ve been a full-time DJ.

Are you a vinyl or Serato man? And why?

I use Serato because it’s the closest you can get to playing with vinyl and still having 10,000 tracks at your finger tips.

You started Blisspop over 5 years ago, and it’s become one of the mainstays on the DC party scene. What was the idea behind that party? How has it evolved?

The basic notion behind Bliss is a no-attitude, no velvet rope party that merges DIY punk spirit with dance music. The musical format has changed over time as my own tastes and abilities as a DJ have evolved. The party has a free-form format and it’s not uncommon to hear house, hip-hop, indie, and classic punk in a night.

What was it like to open up for Moby??

He’s an incredible artist. I mean, Play alone. It revolutionized dance music. He has tremendous presence. He played hard and deep, as one would expect from someone with as much experience, but he also played a really “now” set, not resting on his laurels. I admire that alot. Frankly, I didn’t expect my set to go over as well as it did warming up for him, but I’m thrilled it did. People still come up to me and say “Aren’t you the guy who opened for Moby?” During his set the power went out and we ended up banging on beer kegs and plastic garbage cans on stage for about 15 minutes. It was surreal. There’s a video of it on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8eQw1yDoUE)

What do you think about the DC DJ Scene in General?

There are a lot of really live events happening now, and, more important, a lot of DJs are getting into the production game and doing it well. It’s a welcomed trend and I see it blossoming further next year.

What is your favorite spot to play in DC?

9:30 Club has one of the best sound systems in the county. I’ve been fortunate to play some really fun Blisspop parties there with Tittsworth, Nadastrom and a ton of others and great shows with the Ting Tings, Ghostland Observatory, etc. The Black Cat back stage is always fun and I like that you’re so close to the floor and you get a real feeling of connection to the crowd.

So I know you’re stepping your production game up this year. Can you share with us what you’re doing with Baltimore’s TT The Artist and the DMV’s Helix Queen? Also, I hear that you’re working on an album soon?

Yes, I started working on the album last winter with Micah Vellian from Dmerit. A single, “Feelin” is coming out in September on Plant Music with remixes by Tittsworth, Nadastrom, and Dmerit. I hope to release that and at least one more single before the end of the year, and the album will drop when it’s ready. There’s an electropop/Hip-Hop track with Helix Queen and T.T. the Arti$t called “If U Like” and a funk/house song, “No Sleep In Brooklyn” that T.T. raps lead on. We debuted those songs live last week opening for Thunderheist and are doing them again this Friday at 9:30 Club for the DC Summer Extravaganza. T.T. and Helix are on point and it’s great fun working with them in the studio and on stage. I’m also currently working on a remix for Outputmessage.

We all know that last year’s Blisspop Summer Extravaganza popped off real well. What surprises do you have in store for Blisspop this year?

If I told you, homey, they wouldn’t be a surprise! Hahahah, well I just mentioned one, which is the live vocal performances by Helix and T.T. Y’all have to come out to find out what else is up. It’s Dave Nada’s birthday so you know some crazy things are gonna happen.

If someone were coming to DC from, let’s say NYC, where would you tell them to go?

It depends on where their interests lie. If they’re cocktail fans, I’d tell them to go to The Gibson. If they like house music or reggae I’d tell them to go to ESL Sundays and Wednesdays respectively for Sam Burns and See-I. If they like records, I’d tell them to visit Neal at SOM Records and if they like wearing flip flops to clubs I’d tell them to go to Arlington and stay there.

And finally, what are the top 10 songs on your iPod right now??

Oh snap, I guess I can’t fudge it! According to my Top 50 Most Played automatic playlist:

1. Friendly Fires “Paris” (Aeroplane Remix Feat. Au Revoir Simone)
2. Wale “Sweating Out Weaves” (ft. UCB)
3. Van Morrison “Sweet Thing”
4. Major Lazer “Pon de Floor” (feat. VYBZ Kartel)
5. Catherine Wheel “The Nude”
6. Classixx “I’ll Get You” feat. Jeppe
7. Outputmessage “Resurface”
8. Ryan Adams “When The Stars Go Blue”
9. Little Boots “New In Town”
10. The Glass “Wanna Be Dancin” (Nadastrom Dub Edit)

There you have it. The iPod doesn’t lie.