Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gracie Chavez: Muy Mami

This weekend Dallas is gonna get that "trato especial" for real as Hands Up hosts Htown's finest Gracie Chavez this Saturday @ The Loft.

We were lucky enough to meet Gracie a few months back as The Party started picking up steam in Houston, but the word had been out on this girl WAY before we ever started at Boondocks. With 10 years behind the decks, fresh off the RockBox gig and already mixing it up with her Ruff Cut monthly, this girl is obviously a seasoned OG!! The YO! Mami mix that scored 10,000 downloads in a day kinda spoke for itself alittle something too... Gracie's got the city hot!

We got together earlier this week for a little back and forth. Here's what she had to say about Rock Box, Htown, being a mom, and whatever else came to mind...

So we're all very excited to have you playing with us at Hands Up.  Can you tell us a bit about yourself, where you live now, where you grew up, what crews or affiliates you are part of?
Gracie Chavez: I've been DJing for almost 10 years now, representin' Hustletown to the fullest. I grew up in the 5th Ward area in Northside Houston so I guess I've got a little bit of that 'round the way girl in me.

We know you've been doing your thing behind the tables for sometime, abit of a Houston legend so to speak.  How did you get started in the DJ game?  Who were you're "hometown heros" or influences?
GC: I've been a music writer covering shows and reviewing music for URB magazine, XLR8R, Mixer, Feedback and Tha Pride drum & bass zine at the time. I guess I was around DJing enoughback in the day, it seemed only inevitable that I'd pick up some skills.

My now hubby DJ G.Wizz and friend DZ were d&b DJs and are my DJ foundation. I learned a lot from them--and still do--but I went on to play house. Sista Stroke ushered me thru that era with lots of love for a girl.
But most recently, after I made the switch from strictly vinyl to Serato and the opportunity to play a wider range of music opened up, Witnes brought me on to his wildly successful Rock Box nights. We'd been working here and there since the Reprogram hip hop days and finally we reconnected. He, too, has been super supportive.

And as far as influences, I gotta give it up to my DIRB! boys. In fact we're trying to jump in Squincy Jones at the moment!

The Yo Mami mix is pretty bangin!!  Great song selection, crazy drops.  How has Houston reacted to it?
GC: Ah, yeah, thanks! It really wouldn't have happened without Squincy spranklin his gold dust on it! It took forever it seems to finish, but I'm so happy with the results. It's a lot of my classic mixes with a lil' bit of some woo-woo-wop. The first day I uploaded it I got over 9500 hits--I was fokin' amazed!

We know that you we're a big part of Houston's Rock Box weekly with Witnes and Dayta.  And a intregal part of Les Femmes in the mid 2000s.  Can you tell us abit about those nights, what made them special, what types of things you were adding to those nights?
Rock Box helped me come into my own, seria! I'd been doin house and got to a point where I wasn't feelin' it; honestly, I longed to get back to some break beats. Rock Box was a tough crowd, I ain't gonna lie. But I stuck with it and it helped me be a better DJ, IMO. After taggin' with Tonio for a spell, he split to Seattle, so I was armed with my laptop and library of tunes to play--old school, new school, up/down tempo, rap, big beats, electro, house, but B-more and Baile really told my story the best. I finally feel like I can play how I feel and you know exactly what I'm all about. This catharsis is what I found so special...OH, and did I mention it was just a blast to play with the boys!
Les Femmes ("Ladies of the Night") I co-founded a few years ago after realizing that there weren't that many lady DJs around. Stroke just left for Chicago and I knew there were more girls with skills out no place to play. Vocalist Karina Nistal and I started booking female talent on a montly basis from all over Texas, no matter what they played, and the response was incredible. We wrapped up Les Femmes last month, which was bitter sweet. By now around these parts you've heard of Jessica Lozano, Jessica Partin, Candice Elliot and Amanda Robinson. Our job was done. My only request is that these girls get Les Femmes events going again if lady DJs become scarce again!

Got any crazy stories from either of those nights?  Celeb appearences, shootings, stabbings, uprooting baby trees?
GC: Well, our Faux Femmes night was always crazy. For one night, we somehow got guys to dress in drag and DJ! You should see the photos! LOL. Enough said!!
As far as celebs, I just had Sean Penn saunter into one of my gigs and when it was All-Star weekend, Snoop also dipped thru.
Rock Box was always a free-for-all fun time...shit, girls fighting, 40s flyin' and the occasional hometown rapper done good comin' thru! Don't get me reminiscin'!

I see you repping Ruff Cutt.  That's a label?  Crew?
RUFF CUTT is every 2nd SAT at Dean's (Downtown Houston) and we've got big talent and up-and-commers cued up to heat up your summer. I also guest DJ at The Flat for Jukebot the last SAT of each month. Check the DustyCrates blog or my myspace page for more info and dates.

How has your experience been being a mother and being an active part of Houston's nightlife scene?
GC: I feel like I go hard all day, e'ry day. But my girls (Jazmin & Cassie) and Chris inspire me to live--and love--life. When you find something you love doing, you put the work into it, no joke. There's no time for bullshit, right?
I'm happy that I'm being tapped to do more high-profile gigs at museums, fashion shows and events like that. I want my girls to grow up knowing that if you work hard you can do what you love. Hey, my Mami, did it, I can too.

How about a little Gracie Chavez "current top 5".  We know you got tunes!!!

GC: All right, then, here goes:
1. "Bigger Than Hip Hop Ghetto House Refix" - Flufftronix
2. "Day N NIght" (Crookers First Remix) - Kid Cudi
3. "Control" (LA Riots) - Kid Sister
4. "Poison" - Tittsworth remix
5. "Phat Bottom Girls" - Dave Nada [I'm a huge Queen fan, can you tell?!]

OH, and how about a "top five house tracks that i wish i would hear, but nobody plays when i go out...."

GC: It's very rare that I hear these out...but big ups to those that have these on VINYL!
1. "French Kiss" - Lil Louis [can we ever really get enough?]
2. "Pump Up the Volume" - M/A/R/R/S
3. "I Sit on Acid" - Lords of Acid
4. "The Funk Phenomena" - Armand Van Helden
5. "Gypsy Woman" - Crystal Waters

Anything you want to say before we dip out, shout outs, warnings?
GC: Check out my YO! Mami mixtape. You can download it off I'm on award-tour now, Papi! Lots a love to Chris Cardenas, Jazmin & Cassia, Squincy Jones, Witnes, my DIRB! possy, Les Femmes, Dayta and all my backup dancers on the floor! 

Gracie will be making shit pop at Hands Up this Saturday at the Loft. Hay que estar alli!!!! Check her Htown sound in the new Yo! Mami Mixtape right here...

Gracie Chavez - Yo Mami! Mix

You can cop the tracklisting and art work here...

Hands Up!!!
Saturday June 21st
@ The Loft
Gracie Chavez
w/ The Party



Blogger Michael Corleone said...

do it real big, mamacita!
las manos arriba!

8:02 AM  

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