On The Record: DJ Dark Cloud
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
As a proud selector of dark electronic beats, Jesse “DJ Dark Cloud” Avila believes quick judgments often lead to off-base, incomplete assessments. Futhermore, he can’t help but be a tad bid annoyed by the stigmas associated with a scene that means so much to him.
“I love music as it is my entire being,” he said. “I enjoy sharing my passion with others. The music brings me a wide range of feelings and emotions but every genre, every song touches me, be it the lyrics or the melody.
“Just because we dress in all black and look different doesn’t make us bad people, it couldn’t be further from the truth,” the Waipahu resident added. “Some of them are the nicest people you will ever meet. We really are just normal people.”
As a party participant in his early days and now a DJ, Avila’s allegiance to the aggressive, abrasive and edgy sounds of goth and industrial music has always been strong. A fan of the many hybrid genres such as synth pop, future pop and electronic body music (EB), flow, song selection and internal connections hold the utmost value.
Avila will be at Boda Cafe (formerly known as Xyloh), 1217 Hopaka St. on Thursday, just a few weeks shy of eight years since his first working DJ gig. It will be a bittersweet personal anniversary of sorts, as his introduction into the club scene was a train wreck moment of humility.
“I had a rocky start and made quite a few errors but it was all a learning experience that I grew from over the years,” said Avila, who currently holds residencies at Nextdoor every second Friday and various parties hosted by Camera Obscura.
Despite the deck debut debacle, things came full circle last month for Avila when he ventured out of his comfort zone and won a preliminary round of The 80’s Pop Muzik DJ Competition at Bar 35.
He described the entire process as “nerve-wracking” and said had it not been for the encouragement of his girlfriend, he would have never entered. The opportunity to expose the dark beats he covets to a new audience and being applauded for it proved to be a priceless experience. In the end, a spot in the November finals was worth the risk and stands out one of his signature achievements as a DJ.
“It felt amazing to see them dancing to my style of music,” he said. “That’s all I really wanted to do.”
Avila said he entered the scene as a shy, reserved teen trying to find his way. As soon as he turned 18, he would regularly frequent goth and industrial nights held at afterhours locales like Pink Cadillac and Galaxy to get his underground sonic fix.
At the time, the departure from the trendy world that surrounded him was the ideal change of pace. What he once viewed as a refreshing weekend escape soon became the norm. He would often find himself completely indulging in the scene and its habits, sometimes until 6 a.m.
“Seeing the people I saw, the way they looked, how they dressed and danced I had never seen anything like it before,” Avila recalled. “Colored hair, tattoos, piercings, big boots with spikes and buckles on them, it was definitely something different that I got interested in right away.”
It was at a rave that a friend gave him the name Dark Cloud. As he explored the art of playing music, it made sense to stick with the name because it became his newfound identity.
“The music is what really did it for me,” he said. “It was the sounds, the words, the feelings those songs gave off.”
Beyond the latex and leather were friendships and people of character that he could easily relate to. While wearing black is common in dark music culture, it was the true colors of the scene that were most vibrant.
“No one judges you based on how you look, what you wear, or what you do. They don’t follow trends,” he said. “Everyone is accepting of one another regardless of what walk of life they come from.”
Music may be easier to find these days, Avila, who is known to keep a journal of his track lists, relishes any chance he can get to keep the scene and sound moving forward and believes it all starts with being ahead of the curve in the music knowledge department.
“Being in Hawaii, we generally are the last to get new things here,” he said. “I want to help our community catch up because they deserve (it).
“I feel a responsibility to my listeners to bring a fresh sound. Music is always changing, forever evolving, progressing as the years go by. I don’t want them to miss out on it.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.