DJ Grind To Debut New Single At 25th Anniversary of Winter Party - Rolyn Chambers - Deeper dish - MyGayToronto

DJ Grind To Debut New Single At 25th Anniversary of Winter Party
17 January 2018.

This year, as Miami's Winter Party celebrates its 25th anniversary, over ten thousand people, during seven sun-drenched days, will dance at seven main parties (there are over 25 events in total), to the glorious beats of 14 DJs. My Gay Toronto spoke with one of them.

DJ GRIND, born Stephen Massey in sunny California, will be manning the outdoor decks of South Beach for the original party that started it all, the crown jewel of this massive one-week circuit festival, The Beach Party. With a sound firmly anchored in uplifting house, DJ GRIND's sets blend circuit, tech-house and tribal beats with strong melodies, progressive synths and euphoric vocals. As the recipient of three prestigious 2016 JustCircuit Awards, together with his production partner Toy Armada, DJ GRIND is a Billboard #1 remixer and producer, with more than a dozen official remixes that have topped the US and UK Dance/Club Charts. He's also a die-hard Kylie fan.

MyGayToronto: What do you look forward to most at Winter Party?
DJ Grind: Winter Party Festival occupies a very special place on the circuit calendar because of its long history and tradition of giving back to the community.  Winter Party knows what it means to 'party with a purpose.' I'm so incredibly proud to be part of such a positive, celebratory event that supports LGBT people in South Florida and across the country. And, it's especially exciting to join the legendary duo Rosabel (Abel Aguilera and Ralphi Rosario) to headline the 25th anniversary Winter Party Beach Party. It's truly a dream come true!

MGT: When and why did you get into DJing?"
DJG: Back in 2008, I started a dance music blog for my friends called The Daily Grind, featuring a new track every day.  A couple years into it, a friend of mine who happens to own one of the most popular bars in San Francisco, suggested that I mess around on the DJ decks after-hours. Before I knew it, The Daily Grind morphed into DJ GRIND, and I was playing regular events at his bar, The Lookout, and other venues in San Francisco. Becoming a DJ has unleashed a real creative energy inside of me that's been untapped for most of my life. Until I started DJing, I don't think I appreciated that I had an artistic point of view. It's been truly life-changing to follow this journey of creativity and self-discovery.

MGT: Can you cite any influences that shape your sound and sets?
DJG: I worship at the Haus of Minogue. Seriously, Kylie is my girl. I'm in awe of her sense of self and her authenticity. She knows who she is. She exudes nothing but love. I've seen her work crowds around the world into a frenzy of joy. There's just something about her, and the way she presents herself, so authentically, that's incredibly inspiring. Musically, I'm inspired by many of the great European tech house and techno producers; Mark Knight, The Cube Guys, Etienne Ozborne, Filterheadz, Hoxton Whores, Kid Massive. And I love the euphoric melodies of trance and progressive house.  

MGT: What was it like when your first remix went to #1 on the Billboard Dance/Club Chart?
DJG: It was unbelievable, especially because it happened right before my first appearance at Winter Party Festival, back in 2014. And, it was extra special because it was my remix with Toy Armada for Kylie Minogue's big comeback single, "Into the Blue." Kylie + Winter Party + first Billboard #1 remix = pure magic.

MGT:  Is being a DJ a "god-like position" or "a thankless chore?"
DJG: There's something very special about the gay dance floor. Even though LGBT people have made tremendous progress toward mainstream acceptance, there's still no place more free and liberating than a dance floor, surrounded by friends, experiencing music, and enjoying a sense of shared community. It's where so many of us feel most at home. As a DJ, I never take for granted that I'm part of a very special community, and whenever I'm performing live, I always do my best to give back some of the joy I've received from following my dream. I feel tremendous gratitude for the many people, mostly gay men, who've downloaded my podcasts, attended my events and supported me in my journey as a DJ over the past decade. Like any artist or entertainer, there's a real vulnerability associated with putting yourself out there, month after month, gig after gig. Let's face it, it's scary. But, at the same time, it's unbelievably rewarding to have such a unique platform to connect with friends and supporters around the world and share with them my passion for music and community.

MGT: Musically, how is an outdoor daytime party, like The Beach Party, different for you than an indoor night event?
DJG: Day or night, my primary goal as a DJ is to bring joy to the dance floor. That's my signature sound. I always try to bring an uplifting, joyful energy to every set, even if the beats at night may be harder and darker. When I prepare for a set, I try to think about the feelings and the experiences I'd want to have on the dance floor, in that space and at that moment, and then put together a musical journey that helps take an audience to that place. For me, it's about celebrating life through music.

MGT: What have been some of the oddest or most interesting things you've seen from the DJ booth?
DJG: Ha! Well, just when I think I've seen it all, I'm reminded that gay men have an unlimited capacity to shock, awe and inspire. From the DJ booth, I've witnessed marriage proposals, spontaneous flashmobs, incognito celebrities, and shenanigans of every sort. I've performed alongside hula-hoop dancers and fire breathers and go-go boys wearing nothing but fruit.  But what still shocks me the most are mobile phones on the dance floor. If I could ban one item from any party, it would be that!

MGT: When playing a long set, what one snack do you have to have in the booth with you?
DJG: Raw almonds and club soda.

MGT:  What projects do you have on the go right now? Any new mixes?
DJG: In 2018, Manila-based DJ/producer Toy Armada and I celebrated five years working together as a production duo, and we're celebrating with several big projects on the way!  In 2017, we landed on Billboard's list of the year's Top 10 best dance/club tracks for "Show Me Love," so we're excited to build on that momentum with our first original single called "Just Live," a track we've written together with legendary dance diva Janice Robinson. I'll be debuting that new single at Winter Party, along with several other big remixes we have in the pipeline. It's going to be a busy year in the studio!

MGT: What advice would you give to any beginning DJs?
DJG: Be true to yourself. Find your own voice and your own unique sound, then run with it. Audiences will believe in you when you believe in yourself and present yourself authentically.

MGT:  If you could improve one thing about our gay dance community, what would it be?
DJG: I think there's an opportunity to grow our gay dance community by building camaraderie and positivity among DJs, events and promoters. Healthy competition is good, of course, but we also must be mindful that unnecessary drama and negativity pushes club-goers away from our scene. With so many nightlife options, and the distractions of social media, guys today don't need the dance floor to escape.  So, we've got to up our game to create events and environments like Winter Party Festival that bring people together. As Winter Party has proven for 25 years, when we come together as a community, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.

Miami's Winter Party takes place February 28-March 6, 2018.
DJ Grind opens the Beach Party at Lummus Park, South Beach on Sunday March 4, 12noon to 8pm.


MyGayToronto Price Check
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It's time to graduate from Club Scouts and to start earning you're your Circuit Boy Scout Merit Badges. Our Elder Scouts and Scout Masters will eagerly show you their ropes and will help pledge you into our wonderful, fun-loving, dance-oriented, pleasure-seeking, neurotic-erotic, world of wonder.
See how many badges you can earn at the upcoming Winter Party in Miami:

  1. Pure Fish: Awarded to those who exude a high level of real fish girlishness.
  2. Extravagant Accessory Alumni: For the fashion forward dance floor dresser
  3. Vicks Inhaler Inductee: For those who pamper their nose to make their dance floor stay even fresher.
  4. Might M Expert: For the smart Scout who knows the; who, what, when, where and why of consuming Molly.
  5. Bear Tamer: For those daring Scouts who know it's actually better to jump up and down in front of these large, hairy mammals instead of standing still.
  6. Snail Fail: Can't keep up? Taken too much? Mess on the dance floor? This badge is yours for the night. Try earning the right to have it revoked next time.
  7. High Flyer: Awarded to a Circuit Boy Scout who doesn't overdo it. These Scouts gently float up to the top of clouds, where no one can shit on them
  8. Snowflake Melter: Their tongue is on fire, the recipient of this badge is able to piss off those too uptight to handle their wicked wit.
  9. Beginner Back Massager: This Scout proves his worth on the dance floor or back room by providing this useful service, without hesitation or question.
  10.  Dance Floor Diva: The dance floor is their court; their moves are their crowning achievement. Earned by those who put two-stepping peasants in their place.
  11. Cut/Uncut Boy Clocker: Awarded to those rare individuals who are able to tell if someone is cut or uncut simply by clocking their swimsuits.
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  13. Beat Master: Able to tell what is being mixed long before the DJ has even made a commitment; this Scout will scream the song name out with glee.
  14.  Toy Boy Basket Inspector: This skillful Scout's nimble fingers are always at the ready to rearrange the goods of others.
  15.  Water Bottle Conservationist: The hydrated Scout takes care and doesn't lose or toss away his life-saving plastic container. Instead he cherishes it, just as he cherishes and respects the earth and the oceans. Namastgay.

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