Two Fridays ago, the Marley house was, in DJ Raphy’s words, “packed packed packed” with partygoers. Last Saturday, he again played music for a packed house, this time on Pasado. But DJ Raphy, AKA fourth-year business econ and music major Raphael Pujol, is shown a little more courtesy than the average host in Isla Vista.
“I get hundreds of thank-you messages on Facebook after each party,” he said. Then again, Pujol puts more effort than the average host into party-planning, so that there is a bigger draw besides free Natty Ice and Popov.
Pujol’s weekly parties recreate the full-rave experience, minus the naked strangers begging you to buy ecstasy. He plays the newest electro-house from Europe, along with songs made popular from well-known raves like EDC and Nocturnal. He also provides smoke machines, 500 glow sticks, lasers, strobe lights and other “crazy lights.” Some attendees come equipped with their own rave gear like handheld party lights, whistles, and in more extreme cases, “strings with fireballs attached at the end.”
Though he has not yet recorded original work (he plans to), his mixing and mashing-up have earned him a spot on Acid Head Recordings, an indie label owned by Energy Network Productions. The Paris native lived in Belgium, Poland and Germany before coming to America in 2005 to attend Santa Barbara City College.
“When I arrived there was no house, no electro,” and the techno DJs played five-year old songs. With a newfound mission to end hip hop’s dominance over Isla Vista parties, Pujol started asking around about playing gigs.
A year ago, he was spinning for fun and for free. However, after opening for acts as big as Infected Mushroom and Gunther at UCSB, demand for Pujol has grown. His parties now come at a price: $100 to $200 per house, or if the apartment owners can’t pay up, $1 or $2 per guest at the door.
“I don’t do drugs; I barely drink. All this money is for more equipment,” Pujol says.
He has upgraded from spinning discs to mixing music digitally with CD turntables, and he also needs funding for the music itself. He says he does not download music, for both sound quality and ethical reasons.
Self-promotion can be a tricky thing when you’re a DJ. Local revelers aren’t exactly perceptive on weekend nights, and a DJ spinning alone in a corner isn’t likely to attract as much attention, as say, an in-your-face screamo band. Pujol says Facebook has served as an incredible tool in marketing his skills locally.
He creates Facebook events for his parties, and he encourages confirmed guests to befriend him online with friendly mass messages and smiley face emoticons. In the past six months, his friends list has garnered over 1,000 people. He also categorizes his Facebook events with catchy names, such as the five-part “Isla Techno” series, although he clarified that
“I don’t really do techno, I do electro-house.” He has received hip-hop and reggae requests when performing at downtown spots like Sharkeez, but “I don’t do that.”
Last Saturday’s Pasado party was part of the “E for Electro” series, which is co-deejayed by both Pujol and label-mate X-Vertigo. X-Vertigo had the mob on the grass grooving, grinding and jumping with remixes of hard-rock songs from artists such as Rage Against the Machine.
Pujol remained loyal to more obscure electro-house, although he did sneak in remixes of rock classics like the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “The Other Side” and electro classics like Daft Punk’s “Around the World.” Aside from the beer-pong players, the people pissing in the bushes, and the couple vigorously consummating their love in the grass right next to the people pissing in the bushes, most of the hundred or so people there took advantage of the electro beats and the trippy lights.
Though the fourth-year UCSB student is slightly overwhelmed with juggling both his DJ gigs and school, he enjoys the perks of local success, which include being recognized and approached by fans during the sober daylight hours, at unsuspecting places like K-Mart.
Where will Pujol take the party to next?
“I’m trying to throw a techno party at the Hub,” he said. “I could get that place totally packed.”