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Miguel Migs & DJ Jay J: West Coast Sound Men on Underground House

Author: Jonty Adderley
Sunday, November 10, 2002
While Miguel Migs is one of San Francisco's best known DJ (notably through his productions on Naked Records) his friend and regular collaborator DJ Jay J is increasingly gaining worldwide recognition, with both nowadays virtually synonymous with the so-called West Coast sound. Sitting in the offices of London label Defected (with whom they release a double mix CD West Coast Sessions in the New Year), both, however, stressed that their personal taste remains paramount.

"I'm not particularly concerned with making sure that everybody is screaming and jumping around on the dance floor," Miguel told Skrufff's Jonty Adderley.

"I'm not really a commercial, crowd-pleasing DJ, that's why I prefer to play at smaller clubs and that's why I call my music an underground sound because I experiment and play moody, deeper music that lots of DJs wouldn't play because they might find it too mellow. My music's not for everybody, but I like to mix it up, I don't only play mellow stuff, either."

Skrufff (Jonty Adderley): It's quite unusual to interview two DJs together, how closely have you collaborated on this West Coast Sessions CD-

Miguel Migs: "The CD is dedicated to the West Coast sound ('as they call it') which has boomed over the last four years and we just wanted to do a good quality mix CD; we've both known each other and worked together for years and we're both strong figures in that movement. So it made sense for each of us to do a set of what's the latest instalment of the series."

Skrufff: Did you fight over which tracks you'd each use-

JJ: There's a decent amount of music out there that we could choose from, though there were a couple of tracks that we checked with each other about. We co-ordinated but didn't fight, it was more like me saying 'I'm definitely using this one' then him saying 'I'm definitely using that one.'"

Miguel Migs: "The CD is like a little journey into the kind of music we play and produce, it's a pretty representative music of the kind of house music that we're about."

JJ: "But it's not just a pairing of two DJs with similar styles, because we started working together five years ago in the studio and since then we've worked together a lot. We've also become friends over that time so it's been very much a mutual process of gathering new tracks for each other. We had a couple of sessions where we sat down and played each other tracks beforehand too."

Skrufff: Do you feel yourselves representing San Francisco-

Miguel Migs: "In a way, yes, but there are so many good labels, DJs and producers out there that it's impossible to say that you're representing a sound or scene by yourself; we're just representing ourselves and what we like musically. It's inspirational music for us, from the more tribal harder stuff, to the really funky tracky stuff then the really vocal, soulful stuff."

Skrufff: You describe your music as underground, what does the term mean to you-

Miguel Migs: "One of the things I've always liked about dance music is the fact there are so many different aspects and styles within it. Also I'm aware that on a typical club night with a thousand people on a dance floor, lots of them just want to get fucked up (drunk/ hig) and jump around, and not much will be that memorable beyond the fact that they had a great time and partied hard. To me being underground is about not changing your style to appeal to the masses, or to please everybody."

Skrufff: How much do you see yourselves as artists these days as well as being DJs-

Miguel Migs: "The roles have evolved together in a way because bands would spend their time touring and in a sense as DJs we're also always touring and promoting our records. Being a DJ really isn't that different from being in a band, it's just that you're a one-man show. But you need to have records out to get gigs in places like Japan or Australia. If you don't have mix CDs available then there's no reason why a promoter should book you, whic