On The Record: DJ Coondog
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Every DJ/producer has a little music mastermind in them. At the heart of DJ Coondog’s throw-down protocol is thrill-inspiring bass music.
Shaun Coon’s trap-twerk brand of bass represents a full range of audible motion supplied at a rapid rate. The harder, the better; the louder, the mo’ better.
“My story is to try and sound different from the norm and ultimately have fun doing it,” he said. “I say I am in the lane of pushing new and forthcoming music out there.”
As the way of the Coondog goes, the grooves he kindly provides must be dropped massively or not at all.
“The Hawaii scene tends to be a little late on new music,” he said. “I think its gotten a lot better now then how it was before though. I definitely do not go anywhere near (the) Beatport Top 10. I’ll rinse the sick bootlegs of the popular tracks, but they are typically a whole different genre and sound from the original track.”
Among his pet peeves are DJs who rely heavily on the aforementioned hit list, openers with intentions of upstaging the headliner, trainspotters and music thieves. It’s clear he will not allow other people’s lackluster desires block his motives.
That being said, what exactly is a “coondog” anyway? Allow him to explain.
“Well Coon is my last name, straight up. I probably have a dozen family members that have acquired ‘CoonDog’ as their nickname in their life, so I just rolled it over as a DJ moniker. To survive, Coondog just needs bass music and my She-Coon.”
Growing up in Southern California in the 1980’s, metal, classic rock and pop blared through the headphones of Coon’s Sony Walkman religiously as a youth. He relocated to the islands in 1998, just as Radio Free Hawaii had gone off the air. He would have naturally gravitated to the local punk scene, but he said it was stale and less than inspiring at the time.
Out of curiosity as much as by default, Coon delved into the island’s drum and bass underworld at a time the sub-culture was best known as the amped-up ugly stepchild to its house and techno siblings.
“When tech step started taking off, the scene was really tight back then,” Coon said. “There was a D&B weekly that used to go down at Evolutions on Wednesdays back then. A ton of D&B music was getting produced all the time and Hawaii got its fair share of artists coming out all the time to play too.”
At many of his late night visits to sweaty side rooms at select spots around town, he remembers the mind melting episodes caused by local drum and bass DJs Bass-X and Necron 99. Experiencing such a prolific period of bass music built the foundation of his own career.
“(I would) camp their whole set trying to absorb as much as I could visually and get an understanding of DJing. Next thing I know I end up selling my guitar and swooping up a pair of turntables.”
Today, Coon is one of the key players in “Slow and Low,” Chinatown’s best-known bass-in-your-face monthly gathering. The party founded by DJ Toki has moved to NextDoor every second Saturday, and the brand will manifest itself for the first time on Maui and the Big Island (Kona) later this month.
“A lot of the producers that I follow make a bunch of different music, so I stay far away from pigeon-holing myself. My sets generally are all over the place and the crowd is going to get a very diverse set each time,” he said.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.