Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 5
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman DJs bring the party to campus

You walk into the living room of the German House, into the Sig basement. The black lights  hit your clothing and you meld into the glowing, leaping crowd. For the next few hours you can forget about going to school in the middle of a wheat field. You’ve entered a scene lifted straight from an urban rave.

The source of the sound is that enigmatic DJ, huddled in a corner over his laptop. He holds his headphones to his ears and fiddles with arcane audio programs. Behind the stereotypical Kanye shades, you may not even recognize the guy from your lit class.

The Pioneer set out to go behind the mask of the DJ: to find those people who bring the dance scene to campus, what drives and inspires them. If God is a DJ, how did these ordinary mortals start their journey toward divinity?

“I started about four years ago,” said sophomore Brenton Weyi. “I’d usually just be hanging out with my friends, chilling, playing music. I’d always be the person who was managing it, facilitating the party, so I was like: maybe I should learn how to DJ. My friend was an amateur DJ, so he taught me the basics.”

When talking with Whitman DJs, two names always come up.

“I’ve been pretty low-key on campus,” said Weyi. “We have two really popular DJs in my fraternity, [junior] Chris Barton and [senior] Graham Toben. I tend to DJ just the parties at our house or in the immediate vicinity.”

“My pledge father and uncle at the Sigma Chi house are both DJs,” said first-year Carver Marshall. “Graham Toben and Chris Barton. So I just got into it this year.”

Toben and Barton are considered alpha DJs of the Whitman scene. The guys have an easy dynamic: it’s clear that they are used to reading each other and cooperating. Their dual DJ act, the Indestructible Space Hamsters, is in high demand for house parties and raves.

“I started DJing when I was about 14,” said Barton. “Just got a hold of my mom’s vinyl turntables and threw a record on. I watched this documentary called ‘Scratch‘ and that kinda got me into it. My mom got real pissed when she found out that her favorite record didn’t work any longer.”

Toben recalled the early days of their collaboration.

“I transferred here last semester,” said Toben. “Started hanging around Sigma Chi a little bit, saw [Barton] DJ one particular event, and thought to myself,’Wow, that’s the coolest thing ever. Look at all these people dancing and having a good time,’ and he’s the reason for it. I picked up a computer application called Traktor, did a little research on how to use it and went to town. Once I became part of Sigma Chi, [Barton and I] started hanging out and doing our DJ thing, and since then, the Indestructible Space Hamsters have lived on.”

One of the little idiosyncrasies that distinguishes the various Whitman DJs from each other is their preferred equipment. Gone are the days when being a DJ meant vinyl on a turntable. DJs today have a wide range of options to incorporate digital and physical media.

“I started off with [computer] programs and then I went to digital turn-tables,” said Weyi.

“I use a computer with virtual equipment,” said Marshall. “Like a virtual turntable. It’s called Virtual DJ.”

“Right now we’re using programs,” said Barton. “I used to have vinyl turntables but they got stolen last year. Then I have CDJs but they’re getting obsolete now, with the stuff we want to do.”

The DJ acts also take care to brand themselves with their own name and style, both musical and visual. Weyi, or DJ White Shadow, discussed his approach.

“I usually dress in completely white and black,” said Weyi. “I play a lot of hip-hop, mix it in with techno. I have a DJ friend, [sophomore] Ben Elstrott, who occasionally collaborates with me as DJ Trashcat.”

“I wear neon green shoes and those Kanye West shade things,” said Marshall. “I play dance music, like trance and techno.”

“We both have custom velour tracksuits with our logo embroidered on the back,” said Barton, laughing. “We tend to match.”

Toben chimed in.

“My newest purchase is a sound-activated light-up T-shirt. [I wore it at] the Motherruckers’ calendar release party over at the Palace,” he said.

And the most rewarding part of the DJ lifestyle?

“Honestly: when you put on a song that everyone just gets so excited about, it gives you a really good feeling inside to know that you’re providing the good time,” said Weyi.

“Just looking out at a rave, seeing two hundred people at our house, dancing and moving as one: that’s why I do it,” said Barton.

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