My name is DJ Shani. I was born and raised in Chicago and am currently living in Austin, TX for the last five years. I started my official journey in music in 1999 when I launched "The Groove Temple" a DEEP HOUSE radio show on WLUW, which is still on the air to this day. I was everything: on air personality, sound engineer, opening (and sometimes the only) DJ for The Groove Temple. That opportunity, led to a whirlwind of residual opportunities to DJ. I officially had my first gig three months after the show aired in August of 1999 and haven't stopped playing music since!
I guess my biggest influence is my family. My immediate family is nothing but artists, who make things with their hands to survive. Incidentally, my mother is the only one that does not currently do music, though she was a DJ in NY in the 70s for a brief moment. I look to artists, certain genres and experiences that have influenced my family. For example: zydeco, jazz, funk, playing instruments, learning how to read music, and making your own equipment; writing plays, poems, and making beats all give me inspiration when I’m writing a song or putting a mix together. This list may seem a bit random, but that’s how I grew up, watching and doing most of those things from a very young age.
In anything I do musically, my purpose it to take the audience on a musical journey, more than likely one that you’re not sure of where it goes, but are always groovin’. When I play in venues, my goal is to make you shake your butt, get the courage to flirt with whomever you like, and sweat out all your cares. When I make a mix that I make in my home studio I do the same thing. It really all depends on the mood I’m in and what kind of venue I’m playing for. I’ve always dug the non-verbal conversations I have with people through my music. I want the audience to walk with me on this journey that can span culture, time and space.
One of my favorite memories, is playing in the Bay in 2002. I played at Liquid in San Francisco and The Oasis in Oakland. It was the first time I had ever played out of Chicago. Bay Area house heads are AWESOME! They sing all the songs, dance until they can’t dance anymore and then dance again. The other best show was when I opened for Les Nubians for the first time in 2007, that was pretty awesome. That was the first time I was able to show another crowd what I could do and they responded so well!
I think the biggest challenge that I've overcome with time, is playing on different equipment. If you’re an at home or basement DJ, you'll know how to use and fix your own equipment. That’s totally different when you are out playing. Meaning, when I used to play records only, there would be times where the tone arm wasn't balanced, or the house needles weren't that good. I've even shown up to gigs and the house system, which wasn't connected to the DJ booth, was completely unplugged. It’s really all about experience and learning from those situations that aren't always the best at times, but are THE BEST teachers. I now know how to balance a tone arm, to always bring needles if I'm playing wax, and how to set up turntables or CDJs to a mixer with ease.
“Embrace” is one of my most favorite mixes that I've ever released. I was always known as a DEEP HOUSE DJ and used to release nothing but DEEP HOUSE mixes. Then I looked at my collection one day and realized that I had so much amazing music that was NOT DEEP HOUSE. I feel a well thought out mix separates djs from DJs. If it’s done right, you can really connect musically with said mix. Embrace was my second non-HOUSE mix that got the most recognition and downloads in the limited time that I started putting my mixes online. It’s still the top downloaded mix of all, including reggae and other downtempo/lofi mixes.