October 23, 2014

Texan Mixes Many DJ Disciplines

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Austin, Texas—As a mobile and club jock who’s also worked in radio, Craig Dunn coordinates competing agendas as well as any Middle East peace negotiator.

“With radio and club, everybody has a different agenda,” says Dunn, known professionally as DJ Crazy Craig. “In radio, they want certain songs played based upon what the labels want, and in clubs they want certain things played based on what they think will work. So it’s more constrained, and they have a certain demographic they want in the door, so you have to pay attention to music that’s breaking.”

Craig, who recently resumed a Friday and Saturday residency after a layoff of a couple years, has always prided himself on breaking new music (he was the first DJ in Austin to play “No Diggity” by Blackstreet). “You have to rotate tunes to get people to the bar,” he says, “because, really, the owner can’t care less about the music—he cares about his customers and he wants to keep them there buying alcohol. So, as far as the differences between radio and clubs, there are lots of different opinions on what to do and often times they clash.”

One way to relieve that tension, he says, is to book a mobile gig. “I love programming the sets the way I like to, and at a mobile, people know what they’re getting, for my service anyway, because 95-percent of my gigs they’re referrals, or they’ve seen me at an event. I don’t do too much marketing beyond the website, and even then I don’t get too many gigs because people have seen the website and taken a chance.”

A full-time software engineer, Craig also tries to reconcile two other worlds—geeky software and hip nightlife. “It’s been interesting trying to juggle the two worlds,” he says. “It’s something that you have to really want to juggle. I can’t afford to not have the engineering side of things, because of the living it provides. It helps me to do additional things, gear-wise, that I wouldn’t be able to invest in with the money that I make from gigs. And I don’t want to let go of the club DJ side of things because, once you drop out of the scene for awhile, it’s tough to get back in. I’ve seen guys that tried to do that and it’s been very challenging for them to get back in. There are lots of up and comers, with new techniques and the willingness to do a gig real cheap.”

It also doesn’t help any DJ’s cause that Austin is a live music Mecca. “In some cases, bands will frown upon DJs, and some clubs are really about supporting that lifestyle,” he says. “There are clubs that do the dance thing, but they tend to not overlap with live music clubs. There really is a slant against DJs—they’re not regarded as well as live music players down here. If we had commercial artists down here, it would be different, because commercial artists rely on clubs to play music that radio will then pick up. But the local bands here are not getting radio play anyway, so they don’t need us, or want us DJs.”

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