Hacking Mixes // DJ Bradley P on DJing, Daybreaker, Plan B and Groove Armada

I first heard DJ Bradley P at 7AM. Not at Burning Man. Not on my headphones. Live and in a club at 7AM with a bunch of other sweaty happy people sipping coffee and smoothies that were starting their days off with a bang.

The party was called Daybreaker and while I don’t frequently get up at the crack of dawn to dance I still listen to a lot of great music from Bradley. Since then I’ve been lucky to share the tables with Bradley at a few Mystopia parties and have been blown away with the musicality of his sets. We had a chance to catch up and chat about DJing, Daybreaker and Bradley’s favorite vinyl.

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How did you get into DJing? 

I’ve always been a music lover, but it was only after spending my junior year of college in London that I realized how much I love electronic music. I had thought about DJing since as early as high school, and even downloaded an early version of Traktor and tried to mix on just my computer. Following the year in London, a few things happened. I was very fortunate to befriend someone who has had a huge impact on my life; one of the best DJs at my college, he threw incredible a dance parties throughout my senior year. As we became closer, he encouraged me to explore DJing more. Finally, I realized that if I didn’t pick it up before the end of college, I probably never would. So I picked up a copy of “How to DJ Right” and a controller and started teaching myself.

Where were your first gigs?

My very first gig was right before I graduated. I was too nervous to do it by myself so I enlisted my buddy Gan to play with me; it was his first and last gig. The party was some sort of fundraiser in a school building, and the weirdest thing happened: there was one kid who apparently didn’t like me very much and threw a stink bomb into the courtyard. Almost no one noticed, but it was definitely an odd first gig.

After school I moved to Washington, DC, and started a wild party called Pink Sock with one of my best friends. It was a mixed & queer party on the tiny top floor of a straight dive bar called the Wonderland Ballroom on the third Wednesday of every month. It was there that I got used to playing out and reading a crowd, before moving on to bigger venues.
One of the things I love about your style is how you mix songs across vocal breaks instead of the bass-heavy intro’s and outro’s that dominate many DJ sets. Where’d you pick up on this? 

Thank you! It’s not something that I’ve thought about as unique to my style, but definitely something that I do. For me it all depends on the energy that I want to put into a room: if I’m looking to to build it up, I’ll mix across breaks so that there’s less downtime where people don’t have a melody or vocal to tune in to. Plus I love vocals, and get bored easily, so it helps keep me in the groove as well. All that said, there’s a place and time for a longer, slower mix.
You’ve also recently moved into the world of programming. What kind of music do you like to listen to when you are getting deep into something?

When I’m working, I generally like something that’s interesting but can fade into the background if I need to concentrate. Robot Heart is an easy go-to. It may make for a sleepy dance floor, but slow tech house is great for working. The recent Lee Burridge and Swamy & John Dill sets saw me through a lot. Just this past week I’ve been listening to the 3 hour set that the Desert Hearts crew played back to back at their Spring festival. It’s just the right amount of energy, and I don’t have to think about changing the track for a solid block of time.

Has programming changed your view on how you construct music or your sets? Has it changed the way you think about DJing software?

It hasn’t – I actually had some Computer Science in high school, so that been part of my thinking for a while. It has given me a better appreciation of the complexities that must go into DJ timecode.
The set we are featuring this week is from your party Plan B in San Francisco. Can you tell us a bit about the party and this set in particular?

I was lucky enough to start this party a little over a year ago with Brian Urmanita, another one of the Mystopia DJs. We wanted to have a casual party that wasn’t about a huge night, that wasn’t mainly about finding someone to sleep with, and that wasn’t what you’d typically find in a Castro bar. We’ve been really excited to see the reception it’s gotten. We focus on the music, and people come up to us at every party to say how much they like it.

This particular set was actually an opening set. We start at 9pm so it’s always a challenge to build a crowd when they’re still clearing away the daytime tables and stools from the dance floor. I was lucky that people responded really quickly and we had a solid group dancing by 10. I started off with some slower, deeper tracks to lay down a groove. About an hour in I realized that the mood was right to take it in a much cheerier direction, so I played Right To Life’s “Subway (Micky More Supersonic Mix) and tried to make really tight mixes from there on to build the energy.

You’ve also built a pretty big following from your sets at Daybreaker, what’s different about playing in the morning?

Daybreaker is a ton of fun. The crowd is there to really dance it out, so if you give them something to work with you can end up with an incredible feedback loop – the energy usually leaves me with a buzz all day. The flip side is that no one is drinking or using drugs, so everyone is very in tune with the music, and it’s unforgiving if you make a mistake. Musically, I try to pick songs in major keys, and usually come up with one or two special tracks for the occasion. I definitely put a bit more work into preparing for Daybreaker so that the morning has a good flow to it.

Do you every spin vinyl? What are some of your favorite records?

I don’t ever play vinyl out; at home I have a turntable that I use to digitize rare records and for listening to more mellow music as well. I just got the new Adesse Versions white label “Pride” – it’s the second-to-last song on the Easter Basket mix. A few years ago Maceo Plex rerecorded an old track called “Love Somebody Else,” so I tacked down the original. I’d love a copy of Groove Armada‘s Lovebox, but can’t seem to find that wax on this side of the pond. Beyond that, it’s nice to put classic Fleetwood Mac or Bonnie Raitt on and read a book while I watch the rain outside my window.

Want more DJ Bradley P? Come to Plan B at Q Bar May 2nd – not only will Bradley be on the decks with DJ Brian, but I’ll be making a guest appearance.

Keep up with DJ Bradley P on Soundcloud and Twitter.