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Climbing up several flights of unsound warehouse stairs in Minneapolis, the genre-splicing, oversexed Boy George of U.K. drum 'n' bass, DJ John B., allows himself to get dragged by over a dozen excited ravers to an after-party in progress. Still sweaty and sauced up after playing an unforgettable '80s electro/D'N'B mash-up in the basement of the Spring Street Bar and Grill last May, John crashes a 2:00 a.m. get-together filled with people fresh from the club--he's not yet ready to call it a night. A blur of blond afro and sweaty charcoal-black eyeliner, John turns around midway up the stairs to look at the large group of fans behind him.
"I've got a bigger entourage than J-Lo! " he exclaims, heaving his fist into the air. (That entourage may follow him to Nochee on Saturday, where he will play a set promoted by Bassheadz crew founder Lonnie Manresa, who--full disclosure--writes for my website, Illypses.com.)
For the next hour, John plays whatever he wants for a mixed crowd of tranceheads and dedicated fans, spinning everything from George Michael's "Everything She Wants" to Animotion's "Sweet Dreams" to the title theme from Ghostbusters. He even slips in one of his own tracks from his album In: Transit (Beta Recordings), a crude number called "Take Me Home" featuring Stareyes of the Syrup Girls--a song which is to drum 'n' bass what 20 Fingers' "Short Dick Man" was to crappy early-'90s dance music.
"I'd like him to take meeeee home," a girl drunkenly slurs, never taking her eyes off his hair.
It's no secret that the young Einstein-looking bloke has a weakness for American ladies, as his nu-electro hit "American Girls" advertises. In the song, he admits in Queen's English that he's into cheap dates: "Sometimes if I'm nice to them/They'll take me to the movies/Where I can play with their boobies/Play with their boobies."
This brazen sexuality--which is often humorously self-deprecating--paired with the crispest production drum 'n' bass has seen in recent years, has scored John a devoted, specialized following that doesn't necessarily include 'ardcore drum 'n' bass purists.
"My music is designed to engage and appeal to less militant drum 'n' bass monster types--perhaps the kind of people who buy albums by bands like Air or something," John says later, e-mailing from his home in Manchester, where he's fresh off three cups of coffee and has just finished gardening with his dad. "I wanted to do an album that diehard D'N'B fans could get into--[one that] would give them what they want, but also expose them to other ideas," he says. "I mean, all the '80s references, electro stuff, big super-duper trance breakdowns, robot voices, and gay references are not really normal drum 'n' bass things. But it helps set me apart."
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