On The Record: DJ Du5-10
BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
During his time as a club and mobile DJ in Honolulu, Dustin “Du5-10” Tanaka has made subtle impressions. Now that summer is here, he’s out to make a few lasting ones.
Incredible things are expected as far as Tanaka is concerned, and it all starts with his Wednesday residency at Bar 35, a night dedicated to throwback hits of the late 1990s and early 2000s.
“My greatest memories of music from the ‘90s and ‘00s are the feel good vibes and lyrics you could relate to,” he said. “And the beats, when you first hear the beats you know exactly what song is playing.”
While the party officially launched in late March, the former head DJ at Champions Sports Bar can’t wait for the hump-day shenanigans to really take off.
“I see it as an opportunity for people to see what I can bring,” he said. “We have a lot of DJs (who) come and support and with that will give me more opportunities to DJ elsewhere.”
Tanaka, who lists Ginza, Rakuen and the defunct trance haven Xyloh as his favorite clubs to play at so far, said venturing out to new venues and bigger crowds tops his bucket list going into summer 2015.
“I just need that one chance to play for a big crowd, build up that confidence in myself,” he said. “I try not to play the same set twice. It could be the best set of my life at the time. I play at smaller events and venues so it’s better for me to play on the fly because I can interact with the crowd directly. Every week is a different experience and vibe.”
A host of DJs have mentored the Kaimuki resident in some form or fashion. He was quick to acknowledge is DJ Dawn, who introduced him to the basics and helped him purchase his first turntable, which he still uses today. He also credited underground electronic music mainstay DJ Trancis for giving him a behind the scenes glimpse into the scene and lifestyle.
Under the tutelage of DJ 720, Tanaka learned the programming and beat-matching aspects of being a DJ.
As far as how the all-vinyl, pre-Serato days of turning out a party compare to the controller-reliant era of today, Tanaka said while the edge may seem to be with today’s generation, deck-masters of the old school, crate-carrying days are far more superior.
“I feel that DJs (who) can spin vinyl are more able to adapt to different layouts, versus DJs (who) can only play on a controller will only be able to play on CDJs. I’ve had a gig where I played and the next DJ coming on after me didn’t know how to play on turntables.
“I like to play alongside other DJs where I can learn. It’s really hard to know your style if you don’t have anyone to compare it with.”
Tanaka, 31, said his style used to be strictly Top 40 tunes before the switch to urban hip-hop and pop. Now his methods of choice have morphed into dropping only the most legit EDM and twerk offerings he can get his hands on.
“Almost all the DJs I talked to then told me Top 40 was the way to go, so I stuck with it,” he said. “I wanted to play EDM.”
Gone are the nights of playing parties for the love and no pay, sacrificing a bit of his integrity to accept gigs where staff members easily outnumbered patrons. Traveling the road taken by most upstart DJs has gone by the wayside. Solidifying his name is the only thing that remains. He said he is as close to being ready to taking that proverbial next step as he’s ever been.
“Maybe a few more tag sets then I will feel more comfortable going at it solo,” he said. “I feel like (I’ve) paid my dues but I’m still willing to pay them. I’ve done all kinds of fundraisers, school events. weddings, bringing equipment to gigs so everyone can use it and still be the opening DJ and have to stay until closing to pack everything up. I’ve had DJ use my equipment and break (it), no reimbursement.”
While it seems like only a matter of time before Tanaka receives the recognition and opportunities he covets, waiting won’t stop him from enjoying while party rocking in the present.
“I’m just happy when I can play and people enjoy the music that I put together just everyone having a good time,” he said. “I’m meeting a lot of great people — other DJs, promoters and just overall new people (who) enjoy what I love to do.”
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.