DJs build repertoire in Hayward
Nov 6, 2005 by Michelle Beaver,
They're left. Lefter than left. More liberal than Al Franken, but they don't need you to be. No no, you can be what you want.
Young couple Adrienne Bench, and Dave Gates, are disc jockeys who moved from San Diego to Hayward about a year ago in hopes of finding a new audience for their music. They would like to be radio DJs but are settling for playing events while they build their repertoire and get their names out.
To many people, there are DJs, and there are performers. These two are part of a new breed who combine the two.
Their collaborations are a fusion of techno, pop, hip-hop and just about anything else that helps these two lovebirds get their message across.
Namely: talk to each other. Cross social, racial and political lines and figure out how to live together.
Lofty ideals perhaps, but entirely possible through music, the couple claim.
"There are a million ways music can better the world," Bench said. "You can get lots of different people together in one place who wouldn't otherwise know each other: ravers, straight edgers, jocks, anyone... That's what happened here in the'60s. The Bay Area has been calling to the couple for a long time because of its permissiveness and cutting-edge music scene.
Gates, known as DJ Mindbender, had a strong "underground" following for his techno music and still enjoys that genre, but is eager to reinvent himself.
Bench has been musical since childhood and sang for a band, but is new to the DJ scene. She and Gates have gotten some songs on the radio anyway and want to keep exploring "mash-up" music, also known as "bastard pop."
The idea is to sample from other people's music and make it into something new. They're currently working on a song that includes Blondie, Ministry, Sisters of Mercy with an original beat.
The couple often loop political speeches from the last two centuries over the music.
You can recognize the riff I took from each song, even though they're mixed up," Gates said. "We're crossing over the techno style with pop and rock so it's recognizable and catchy."
Political themes are never far away, Gates said.
"I want people to understand that politics aren't just for grownups," the quiet, reserved man said. "Politics should be something cool, something hip."
Bench, ever more vocal, was quick to jump in.
"We do not want to be on the left or on the right though," she said. "You lose a lot of people by trying to be one or the other. I'm extremely liberal, but I want my music to bring people in and get them talking and not ostracize anyone. We want yuppies and hippies."
"We think it's better to leave the message a little open so you can get different messages and figure things out for yourself," he said.
Gates enjoys teaching Bench about music-making technology.
"She gets this incredible excitement every time we hit a milestone," he said, obviously smitten. "It's fun watching her."
Bench added, "He laughs at me because I'm like a little baby DJ. I'm like, 'Oh, wow, this is how you use this program? I never knew that!"
The couple are planning a benefit concert for their upcoming wedding and want donations for nonprofits in lieu of traditional wedding gifts, even though they could certainly use the support.
They carry food in their trunk and distribute it to every homeless person they see, but sometimes have to hit up the reserves themselves when their own supply runs out. Dave works full time for a nonprofit organization and supports both of them while she records in their studio.
"We're not anybody," Bench said. "We just want to make good music and get our voices on the air and get people thinking."
They work on their music dozens of hours a week, and are excited about their future in Hayward, especially now that their work is getting air time.
Michelle Beaver is a general assignment reporter who also covers police and San Lorenzo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org