J.Espinosa Interview (WordLyfe Spotlight)

J.Espinosa is one of the most sought-after and seasoned DJs in the Bay Area. Between two number-one mix shows on WiLD 94.9 and touring with pop singer Dev, Espinosa is constantly on the go yet still found time to win San Francisco’s regional 2013 Red Bull Thre3Style.

You have a reputation for putting out some of the best composed mixtapes. What’s your approach to making mixes?
Well, first off thank you! It’s really not thought out much to be honest. I’ll just make a folder in iTunes with the main songs I KNOW I want to put in the mix. After I place the first song in, I just figure out clean transitions between the next song, and build from there. More recently, I’ve used Mixed In Key a lot. If I get stuck, I’ll literally type in the key of the song that I’m stuck on and sometimes I get lucky and find something cool in my iTunes to play with it. I also have a notepad in my iPhone of random samples I hear so I won’t forget em. Those always come in handy when I’m least expecting it.

You recently moved your mixes from SoundCloud to Mixcrate. Why?
I still post mixes on Soundcloud. Mixcrate doesn’t flag music for copywrite, so I know I can always count on the mixes being uploaded successfully. The only problem I have with Mixcrate is you have to be a member to download mixes from there. But it’s really user friendly for people with accounts. I feel like Mixcrate is more casual as well. I do weekly mixes for iHeartRadio—I feel like posting my mix every week on SoundCloud is a little much. So I use Mixcrate for the weekly stuff and the more thought out mixes I upload to both SoundCloud and Mixcrate.

Whose DJ mixes (not your own) are in rotation in your iPod?
I don’t have an iPod. Haha. But I follow a lot of DJs on SoundCloud. So whenever I see a new mix I’ll listen! Especially the DJcity SoundCloud! I get excited when you guys post new mixes. Kidd Spin’s last one was dope. Also “Unprotected Sets” is really good. Schoeny has mixes from everybody and their mama on that page! I also tune into certain mixshows on iHeartRadio. New@2 on Hot 97 with DJ Camillo and DJ Self on Power105—Saturday night he goes IN! DJ Pup Dawgs Throwback Mix at Noon on Jammin in Boston is really dope. The “Jump Off Mix” on Power 106 in Los Angeles always has good talent. Also, Rude Jude on Shade 45 doesn’t mix but he always plays dope sh#t. I need to renew my damn contract with Sirius! If you got that TuneIn Radio app you can listen to BBC Radio 1 too. MistaJam’s show is the one to catch!

Which DJs have inspired you recently?
Hmmmmm…Chris Villa’s mixes are always full of cool ideas. Benzi always plays the new sh#t that you can’t find if you were friends with Jesus. I tune in to Power 106 for the “Jump Off Mixes”—those are always good. Jazzy Jeff’s last Do-Over set was amazing—I heard that one off SoundCloud. Maybe I’m not hip to who’s making really DOPE produced mixes because I feel like there’s a lack of them at the moment or people just don’t do them anymore. I grew up listening to Revolution, Spinbad, and DJ Break mixtapes. I mean is there anyone doing sh#t like that anymore? I feel like DJs nowadays are making mixes for different reasons. [These days] it’s not about spending a month in your bedroom detailing transitions and coming up with creative ideas because that takes too much time. DJs got planes to catch? I don’t know—I’m asking haha.

It seems like the use of “word play” has declined and DJs are increasingly using “tone play” in their sets. Is that technique for everyone? What mix trick will be next?
People aren’t dancing to “word play” but I still love hearing it in mixtapes—I don’t mean looping one phrase for two minutes and then dropping a song with the word you just looped—but making words talk to each other that weren’t supposed to! I only made one attempt at “tone play” while I was competing in the Red Bull Thre3Style competition. I love hearing it done well but it started to be a DJ trend so I kind of backed off. It’s not for everyone but sh#t—if you got a dope trick then do that breh!

You’re known for making personal edits along with a variety of bootlegs and remixes. Do you have plans for producing originals?
Hell ya—I gotta always have edits to music. Especially house music. I definitely want to start making music—it’s in the works.

Are there any up-and-coming producers that we should know about?
I’ve been feeling Esentrik and Ingwell lately. Grandtheft’s music is dope too. This dude from the Bay named Jay Ant makes some slaps as well.

Any final shout outs?
Anyone who wants to download mixes from me—I have a weekly hip-hop mix on iHeartRadio—nothing but new stuff. I post those mixes on Mixcrate. And for everything else check my SoundCloud page.

Follow J.Espinosa: Facebook | Twitter | Official site

DJcity’s “WordLyfe Spotlight” is an interview series which shares the stories of both rising and established radio DJs. Check out our previous interviews