On The Record: Davey Shindig
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Great dance music without parameters provides Dave “Davey Shindig” Wilkie with the audible components he needs to get down with the get down.
From the outside looking in, he may be classified as simply thinking outside of the box. For Wilkie, there is no classification necessary because there is no box or boundaries. Instead, he simply shares the music he enjoys with others. The way he sees it, listening pleasures should develop via personal taste, not force-fed by pop culture or mainstream persuasions.
“The more a DJ caters to the masses, the less distinct or naturally creative they’ll sound, I think, no matter how they spin it,” he said. “There are fewer limitations to a DJ who isn’t concerned with mass-appeal, but there are more challenges and the failure rate is higher.”
As host of “808 Mixtapes” on University of Hawaii at Manoa college radio station KTUH, indie dance gems get the attention. Some tunes may instantly appeal to listeners, while others may take more time to resonate. Exposing yourself to new music is key. How do you know a song is any good if you never heard it?
Inspired by Tim Sweeney’s groundbreaking college radio show “Beats In Space” on New York University’s WNYU, “808 Mixtapes” helps break new ground for local DJs looking to bring their diverse range and styles to the forefront. A host of nationally recognized DJs, all who happened to be in town for nightclub performances, have come by campus radio studio.
“If you’re on KTUH, you’re very free. If you are a DJ on commercial radio, you’re lucky if you choose even one or two songs per show,” said Wilkie, an Information and Computer Science major at UH-Manoa. “Since the show started, I’ve been building up a listenership from around the world, which is a surprise, so I’m hoping the show will build a bigger local following in the next year.”
To date, Wilkie’s program has put out 65 mixtapes with sets by guest DJs recorded live on-air and provided free via digital download or CD. After a short hiatus, “808 Mixtapes” returns Friday, Nov. 15, on KTUH from 6 to 9 p.m.
“I’d been collecting local DJs’ mixes for a while before I decided we didn’t have enough of them,” he said. “My goals are to document the local DJ culture and help keep KTUH relevant in the Internet age, so having a podcasting format was a move towards those goals, except it worked out to be less like a podcast and more like a mix series.”
Back in the day, Wilkie, who is also the station’s webmaster, hosted two shows. The first was “Raver Flaver,” an early Sunday morning techno and house show when he went by DJ Vertigo before dropping indie and electro blends as co-host of “The Party Shuffle Show.”
It’s apparent those on-air experiences have set himself up for success. As a radio and club DJ, keeping his integrity intact while sharing his library of rare grooves with a wider audience is a responsibility he takes seriously. If he doesn’t do it, who will?
“Some of my other DJ heroes have come on-air and have even contributed mixes. I have mild crushes on both Tokimonsta and Tamara Sky — and they’re big stars, so I was incredibly lucky to bring them on my show in its infancy and obscurity,” Wilkie said. “Even big-time DJs like them have been encouraging, which tells me I’m doing something right and gives me hope.”
Wilkie, who will also spin at Bevy in Kaka’ako after his show on Friday, admitted to being anything but mild-mannered when it comes to his turntable antics. Dance happy, fun with a dash of honest enthusiasm — that’s vintage Davey Shindig in action.
“If I’m not working up a sweat, I feel like I’m not doing my job,” he said. “One rule I have is that anyone who steps in the DJ booth also has to be moving to the music.”
Whether the funky groove permeates through a crowded club space or enjoyed more intimately via radio stream, reaching people on an emotional level is first and foremost for Wilkie.
“What makes me feel really optimistic about music lately is going out to sing karaoke with friends,” he said. “It reminds me that music belongs to everyone, and you don’t have to be some kind of specially gifted genius to own your part of it.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.