It’s odd to hear a DJ talk about not listening to dance music, a genre that seems to require from its exponents an almost pathological dedication to staying ahead of the curve.
But then Spenda C isn’t your average DJ. Not for him the techniques of deep or harmonic mixing – skills that some in the industry take years to master. The Spenda modus operandi is more concerned with the ends rather than the means. “I’ve never really been a DJ’s DJ,” he says, laughing. “I was just interested in having fun, you know.”
Perhaps it’s because dance music has been a slow progression for Spenda C – a destination he never particularly set out to reach. Punk and ska were his first loves when, over ten years ago, he was more commonly known as Steve Lind and sat behind the drum kit for a variety of bands in his native Mackay.
“I still listen to a lot of punk and ska,” Lind says. “That’s predominantly what I listen to if I’m not listening to my own tunes when I’m working on them. It’s music that I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve actually been back collecting these Jamaican dancehall 45”s: my turntables are digital these days, so I can just buy whatever I actually like, which is really nice, actually,” he laughs.
When Lind did get behind the decks, it was spinning hip hop – and often to an audience that wasn’t necessarily attuned to cutting edge Stateside rap music. It meant he’d work hard to find the obscure records that would instantly engage with a party crowd, something that has since become a calling card for the now Sydney-based DJ.
“It sounds cheesy, but it’s always that balance between education and entertainment. You want to give people something new, but at the same time if they’re not entertained, no one’s going to dance and no one’s going to give a shit. So you’ve got to hit that balance. Also, I’m a victim of my environment. In Sydney, you’ve got to play accessible stuff if you want to get regular gigs; that’s just the truth … but at the same time I’ve got to satisfy my own urge of pushing the underground stuff.”
That instinct to balance musicology with the good times has now led Lind to the latest bass music to spread across dancefloors worldwide: moombahton.
Invented by Dave Nada of US-based duo, Nadastrom, moombahton came into existence when Nada slowed an Afrojack remix of the Silvio Ecomo and DJ Chuckie song ‘Moombah’ to a reggaeton-like 108 beats per minute.
“I think what appealed about moombahton was that the mixing style is very similar to hip hop,” he explains. “So when I was playing hip hop I was doing that nice quick mixing and I think it’s the same with moombahton. They’re short, sharp records and they mix in really quickly, which suits me. Musically they’re really different, but stylistically, the way you mix them as a DJ is pretty similar … You can throw in all these different elements too: all those hip hop elements, all those dubstep elements, and all those sounds and slower tempos, which is really cool. It’s a really versatile tempo.”
The moombahton tip has seen Lind make it all the way to the national youth broadcaster, taking over Triple J’s Friday afternoon DJ slot earlier this year. It was a great experience, but an even better promotional tool.
“That was really good, and it did spike interest for my music and my gigs. Even if people don’t listen to it, you put it in your package that you send off and promoters think, ‘Oh yeah, he must be alright’.” Lind says, laughing. “The whole thing was my edits and my remixes and a few original tunes as well.”
At the same time, he feels a little bit awkward about being pegged a champion of moombahton. “I wasn’t the first to push it in Australia. When somebody asks you if you’re one of the champions of moombahton you’ve gotta roll with it, but actually it was the Scatterblog guys in Melbourne doing it a few months before I did it.”
Either way, Lind is making waves. He just released the first Spenda C EP via Kid Kenobi’s Klub Kids label, and is now looking to blow into Brisbane for Woodland Bar’s last ever weekend of shows. “It’ll be great,” he says. “A whole lot of the local guys I’m playing with spin this great ghetto-funk and breaks stuff, so it should be a really cool and fun party, and it’ll be bass orientated so it should sit well with my stuff. But it’s interesting: Brisbane’s got this great environment. There’s a real community feel. The guys looking after you at gigs aren’t afraid to take you round to other spots. It’s a great place to come and play.”
SPENDA C PLAYS WHITE RABBIT AT WOODLAND BAR EASTER SUNDAY, APRIL 8. HIS DEBUT EP, ‘GETTING DUMB’, IS OUT NOW.