With my latest artist interview, I’d like to introduce DJ and producer, Source One. I first heard his music on SoundCloud, where I found his MOOD mix series. He’s based in Atlanta, so I had an opportunity to connect with him in-person after we linked up via social media. As you’ll read below, he shared his thoughts about music, his journey as a DJ and producer and much more. Enjoy.
First off, is there a meaning behind your name “Source One?”
Yes, there is. Sort of ironic someone asks me that because I just recently was discussing the meaning with a close friend of mine, talking about spirituality and faith. I came up with the name years ago when I started producing beats and original music back around 2002. Seems so long ago, it’s crazy.
I was trying to go by a name that I would carry with me for years to come and thought would stand out from others. I was heavy into religion and different beliefs and kept reading about the “source of life” or “God as the source of creation” and that word really stuck out to me. I believe that we all come from one family, one place, and one source. So, “One Source” didn’t sound right to me as a name, so I flipped it and went with “Source One.”
How long have you been DJ’ing and producing? What initially drew you into creating and mixing music?
I’ve been producing since about ’01-02 when I was in high school. I was heavily influenced by 90s rap & hip hop and my closest friends and cousin introduced me to underground/independent hip hop (Rawkus Records, Def Jux, Wu-Tang, etc.). I always loved the rawness of the beats and gritty sounds that would make me feel like nothing else before, so I got a bootleg copy of a software program called Cool Edit Pro and just started messing around.
It didn’t even have a sequencer or any way to quantize beats, this is like before ProTools was the industry standard. I studied the history and art behind hip hop culture and especially digging for vinyl and was introduced to an entire world I never knew existed. From rap, I studied back in time and started collecting, listening to, and sampling soul, funk, psychedelic rock, Middle Eastern music, jazz, and more. I was never classically trained in music or picked up an instrument, but this was my way of creating my own sound-scapes and sort of puzzle pieces of history into a collage of beats. I taught myself a lot and also learned a lot from friends and other producers in my area. Started working on an EP, later a full-length album and collaborating with lots of Atlanta emcees and lyricists.
I started DJ’ing about 3-4 years ago because producing kept me inside the studio and crib a lot of the time. I wanted to get out more and interact with like-minded people in the city. I had picked up a version of Serato’s Scratch Live and after playing a few house parties and art gallery openings, I got a high off of playing music for people to dance to, especially music I loved so much myself. So, I decided to concentrate more on my DJ’ing and really hustled to meet fellow DJs, artists and make connections with bars, clubs, promoters and places I felt like my mixes and sound would complement.
Tell me more about your musical style and how you craft your mixes and sets. What type of equipment do you use? Do start off with a specific theme and songs in mind or do you create as you go?
My musical style and taste changes constantly and always will. I love music of all genres, bpms, and regions of the world. My background, being Iranian and growing up in Germany and the U.S. (western world), has really influenced me as a person and opened my ears to wide range of genres.
The MOOD mix series started because I wanted to challenge myself to create a weekly, hour-long mix of music and songs that I really enjoy and feel is pushing the envelope of sound and production. It also serves as a way for me to be up-to-date on the latest vibes being released around the world and expand my catalog of remixes and edits.
I use a Vestax 2-channel mixer, Scratch Live, a MPD24 controller pad & Audacity to record my mixes and sets. Each MOOD mix highlights a specific emotion, vibe or is dedicated to a city or artist (like the J Dilla tribute mix). Whether I’m recording a set of all Jersey Club joints or mix taking the listener on a journey to California, I try to blend classic tracks, rare edits of original songs & the futuristic production of labels like Soulection, Darker Than Wax and others.
With Atlanta having a well-known and vibrant music scene, how challenging has it been to build a name for yourself and land gigs at spots like the W Hotel Midtown and Barcelona?
The Atlanta music scene has a lot of hidden gems. Of course, this is the birthplace of trap music and southern rap has dominated radio & clubs in the U.S. and all over the world heavily for past 10 years or so, but that doesn’t mean that’s the only type of music you’ll hear in clubs or venues. I listen and love all kinds of music, so I never limited myself to just one genre or period of time.
In the beginning, no one knows you or what you’re about and/or capable of, so you deal with a lot of rejection, shady promoters/owners of clubs and just try to get your foot in the door and be recognized. I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs and times when I felt like the scene was just too clique-ish and didn’t feel like all the work amounted to much, but I pushed through it because I just love music. So whether it was 5 people dancing or 500, whether I was not getting paid, it didn’t matter because I just wanted to play music – period.
If you know what your scene, audience and best self lies, then you can make a name for yourself and eventually get to where you want to be. I’m never satisfied, so as soon as I get to a comfortable place, I want something bigger, better and work with this DJ or that play in that club. The scene here is great because the city is not too big where you get overlooked, the DJs know each other for the most part, and there’s a community of artists and enough party people & venues for everyone to get a piece of the action.
Any hopes for where DJ’ing and producing will take you in the future?
My hope for the immediate future is to produce and release original music, along with a MOOD mix every single month to build the brand. At the same time, I’m looking to curate dance parties in non-conventional venues and spots that people haven’t utilized as clubs or parties yet with close friends and DJs to stand out more.
I’ve been really feeling the west coast, especially L.A. and look to move there within the next year or so to take up another, bigger challenge of connecting with people in the industry and getting to the next level. My ultimate goal and desire is to produce music & DJ the country and the world full-time, bringing my own sounds and music for the soul to the rest of the globe.
When and where can people hear you spin in-person, as well as where they can find your music online?
Currently, I’m at the W Hotel Midtown in the Living Room every other month on Fridays from 5-9pm. You can also find me at Barcelona Wine Bar at least 2-3 times a month on Fridays and Saturdays and I’ll have basement and dance parties once or twice a month sporadically.