By Marcus R. Lee, Contributor, DC Music Live
Philly native and one-time D.C. transplant Des McMahon knows his way around a turntable and drum machine. Though he’s back living in the City of Brotherly Love, McMahon remains a staple of the D.C. electronic dance music scene with frequent performances at U Street Music Hall. He recently displayed his mixing skills underneath the laser lights of this past weekend’s Mega DC show at Echo Stage. It was a night of dubstep, drum and bass, drumstep, moombahton, trap, and more with British electronic dance group Nero, local group KnoxBox and a stellar lineup of other popular bass-beat producers and DJs. McMahon sat down with DC Music Live to talk about Mega DC, his new EP, the future of electronic dance music (EDM) and spending time in D.C.
When did you start mixing and DJ-ing and why?
I started DJ-ing when I was roughly 16. I always enjoyed sharing music and helping others expand their taste in music. For a while I was making little mixes of new music for my friends. DJ-ing was just that but with a more performance aspect.
What do you think about the D.C. electronic dance music (EDM) scene?
In 2008, I specifically chose to go to college in D.C. because of its club scene. After all this time, it has turned into my favorite place on the East Coast. The scene there is at its absolute best and will continue to grow.
Your new EP, Ginger Problems, How did you come up with the title?
There’s not much of a meaning besides the fact that I’m a ginger. One day I retweeted something from the @GingerProblems page and the homie DJ Tittsworth replied with “I think we just found your EP title.” Best part is I retweeted “S.W.A.G. – Sex With A Ginger.”
Who do you think will be listening to your music 20-30 years from now?
I think in 20 years time the music I’ll be writing will be completely different from what I’m writing now. If something is timeless, it will last forever. I will damn sure be listening to my collection of classics in 20 years time. But if you think about it, everyone’s attention span is incredibly short now thanks to the Internet. So, who knows? People who really absorb music as a hobby will listen to good music from any era.
What do you think is the future of electronic dance music (EDM) and how is it changing?
I used to be pretty sure about this, but I don’t think I am anymore. EDM is changing so damn fast because of the Internet. One day I’m seeing stuff about moombahton [a fusion of house and reggaeton], next day it’s trap [using 808 drum beats to fuse hip-hop and dubstep]. The day after that it’s [the snare drum, Jamaican dancehall sound of] bubbling, day after that it’s juke [or Chicago booty house music] and so on.
For me personally, I’ve been embracing everything that comes my way. You used to see a lot of DJs and producers stick just to one genre and one BPM. It has changed big time. People are going to shows and you’re hearing everything from electro to dubstep to drum and bass all in one set. I think that is the way to go for now. Limitation is for pussies, and I think EDM will continue to take everything it possibly can and mix it all together whether it be in a DJ set or in productions.
Who are your favorite EDM and non-EDM artists?
I don’t even know anymore. My idols growing up were Sean Tyas and John Askew. If you’re going to ask who my favorite artists are now I wouldn’t even know where to begin. There are so many people out there now making fantastic music that if I gave you the list, we’d be here for days.
Non-EDM artists for me would probably revolve around the hip-hop and downtempo area. I have a library of music I listen to when I want to take a break from club music. That list consists of everyone from Tokimonsta to Gramatik to the late Nujabes.
Overall what did you think of the show?
Mega was absolutely insane. The line up was great, the crowd was great, and the venue was great. I think D.C. has gotten really lucky with the recent opening of Echo Stage. … I think it has one of the best warehouse vibes the East coast has to offer. It’s been awhile since I’ve to go to a place like that.
What artists were you really looking forward to hearing during this month’s Mega show?
The Nero were the guys who changed how I saw bass music. I remember being 18 and hearing “Something Else” and look how much they’ve grown since then. Another is Bro Safari because, to me, he is one of the top American producers in all of bass music. Nick [Weiller] can pretty much dabble in anything he wants now whether it’s moombahton, dubstep or trap, and every time he comes up with an astounding result. Lastly, would be Killsonik because at the end of the day I can’t get enough of those face-ripping bass lines they make.