The Nu Bang Clan is a Collective with members in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Japan. This year, they inducted DJs Deb Graham, Nini Juliano, Ricky French, Daniell Spencer and Demetrious Orr into their organization.
Jamaican born DJ Debbie Graham, got her start spinning music in reggae clubs in Atlanta. After years of playing various genres of music in several clubs in Atlanta and Florida, she landed numerous engagements focusing mainly on playing disco and house music. In the late 80s and early 90s, as the underground house music scene was thriving in Atlanta, she started performing at a number of clubs such as Bell Bottoms, Traxx, Tongue and Groove and a residency at Club Jaguars, all located in Atlanta. She has had the opportunity to open for house music legend Crystal Waters and has shared the decks with several heavy hitters in the house music scene including Jesse Saunders (Chosen Few), Alan King (Chosen Few) Dj Minx, Stacey Hotwaxx Hale and Hippie Torrales (Zanzibar). DJ Debbie Graham is also the CEO of Underground Soul Movement and is featured on a number of Internet radio stations.. Although she continues to play all genres of music, house music is still one of her favorite genres to play.
DJ Righteous (Demetrious Orr) is originally from Chicago, residing in Detroit. He learned at an early age that he wanted to be a “people mover”. So he started collecting records and started spinning around 1982. During that time a healthy dose of WBMX and THE HOTMIX 5 provided him with inspiration. As the music scene began to grow, so did he. He discovered the sounds of Ron Hardy and Lil Louis and began to start doing local parties. In 1991, after returning from Operation Desert Storm, he hooked up with FATHER ABRAHAM (DETROIT) and KNOX EWERS (Jamaica) for his first residency at the Eagles Nest in Wiesbaden Germany. 1994 he moved to Colorado Springs and held 3 residences at the Sportshaven, CA Lounge and the Pump House with DJ DEE SMOOTH (DENVER). In 2007, after a 10 year hiatus, DJ RIGHTEOUS team up with ANDRE ROYSTER and formed soundCircle DJS. With soundCircle, DJ RIGHTEOUS has been able to carve a niche in the underground forging a following of supporters who love to hear him play his soul stirrin’ sermons that he calls UNSCRIPTED MELODIES.
DJ Daniell Spencer is a Chicago native who has been DJ’ing since he was twelve. His natural talent was obvious and at 14 he was selected to DJ his own 8th grade graduation party. In his early years, he silently consumed musical knowledge from his cousin, DJ Gene Hunt, while perfecting his craft behind the turntables. He worked throughout college, DJ’ing various clubs and becoming a sought after DJ at SIU-Carbondale all while attaining two college degrees in Civil Engineering and Math. His DJ career has carried him around the world to over 13 countries. He’s also spearheaded his sound with releases on Chicago powerhouse record labels, “Afterhours Records” and Bad Boy Bill’s label, “Moody Recordings”. After a brief hiatus, he returned to the house music scene and created, Boogie Deep, as his newbirth DJ movement. He’s created a buzz throughout Chicago and hosts a weekly event every Thursday night. In addition to DJ’ing, he’s created and produced popular remixes. Looking ahead, there’s no stopping for this “proven” global house pioneer.
I had a chance to speak with three of the new members and veteran NuBang member, Greg Gray, about their careers and what it means to join this worldwide collective. Check out my interview with the newest members of Nu Bang today.
Black Widow: For those who are unaware, what is The Nu Bang Clan?
Greg Gray: Nu Bang is a network of like-minded people; DJs, promoters, producers, event planners, who have created a worldwide network. We have members across the globe.
Black Widow: How did you guys get started in the business and what was your introduction to house music?
DJ Deb: I started very young around 9 years old. I used to do parties for my family. I grew up in the islands so we loved music and parties. By the time I was in my teens, we migrated to the states and I really started to get more into different genres of music. The MTV era in the 80s exposed me to more music. I started to play more pop and by the time I was in college, I hooked up with some DJs that played reggae. I actually started DJ'ing professionally as a reggae DJ and I would play clubs in Atlanta where I’m still based. In the late 80s/early 90s, I was exposed to house music. At the time it was very underground in Atlanta. It was primarily played in the gay clubs. I had a friend take me to one of the clubs and the moment I got there I fell in love with house music. I saw the love that it brought…that’s how it started for me. By 1993, I was focusing more on house music and had a few residencies in Atlanta and I haven’t stopped since.
Daniell Spencer: I started early as well. It started at home, listening to music with my family. That’s where I developed my love for music. My family would get together, drink and listen to music. I would grab LPs and put them on the record player. Around 1983, I was 11/12 and I learned the sound of music and how to play from Kenny “Jackmaster Wood and my cousin, Gene Hunt. My 1st paid gig was my 8th grade graduation party. They paid well too for an 8th grader! [Laughter] In high school, Kenny took me on the Westside and we began to play at a club called Mr. G’s. I played there every weekend while I was in high school. We always had a place to play on the Westside. That’s where I really developed my skills. I remember my mom wouldn’t let me go downtown where Gene (Hunt) was playing so I had to do what I could do at the time. When I went to college, I started DJ'ing and doing parties down there. I also came home and would spin sometimes at Tunnel and a couple of rave spots. Once I got married and I had kids, I took a sabbatical. I came back about 6 years ago and this is where I am today.
Demetrious Orr (DJ Righteous): I remember my parents playing records at house parties. My love for music started early and I was introduced to house music by the Harris Brothers who lived on my block in Chicago (Lamont, Brian and Marcel). I learned how to spin in their basement. Ron Carroll went to Bryn Mawr with me and would always bring records to the class parties. I would borrow my mom’s records and would go to the Harris Brother’s house and just practice. Around 1986/87, I moved to the burbs and would spin with Lorenzo York and Murph E out in Hillcrest. When I moved back to the city in 1989, I did my 1st big party at Corliss High School’s winter dance. From there I went to the army and got a gig DJ’ing in a club in Germany in 1991. After the army, I moved to Colorado Springs. DJ Fiddy Millz was my manager at the time. We met in Germany. He would take my mix tapes and promote me. I had two residencies in Colorado Springs where we would play everything. When I moved to Detroit, I took a break from DJ’ing and started performing spoken word poetry. That was around 2001. We traveled all across the country opening up for a variety of acts. I still had that love for the music inside of me though. I slowly started getting back into it and the grind was hard, especially since I was in a city where I wasn’t known for DJ’ing. Everything that’s happening right now is so special to me because I’ve worked hard to get here. It’s been a 13 year ride and I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Black Widow: What does it mean to be inducted into this worldwide network?
DJ Deb: Being a female in this game, it’s an honor. I’ve known a lot of people in NuBang for a long time and everyone I know is doing their thing when it comes to this music. They are doing it on such a high level ,so to become a part of this…It is the kick in the butt I need to take it to the next level! I work hard now. I do 7 radio shows and I have a lot of gigs here in Atlanta and I’m also in Detroit a lot but my goal is to travel more internationally. I’m hoping this is the kick that I need to take it to that level.
Daniell Spencer: I’ve always been a go-getter so I’ve never really thought about being in a group until now. I knew Celeste, Easy and Greg and they would always give me good advice and information. It was an easy choice for me because I was already connected with these guys and it felt like family. Everyone has been so genuine.
DJ Righteous: I’ve followed NuBang for years. I remember learning who were members. I met Greg Gray years ago in Detroit and we became cool. Then I met Cordell, Tony and Earl McKinney and we became friends. When I was approached I thought it was a joke but they were serious. Once I got the call, I was in shock. I’ve listened to so many of them on a regular basis; their radio shows, their tapes and CDs, it’s just a honor to be asked to be part of this collective. I’m extremely humbled by it.
Greg Gray: When the honeymoon is over,[Laughter] the truth is that everyone has certain skill sets and characteristics to contribute. We have members across the globe and we all have roles to play. Everyone in NuBang isn’t a DJ or producer, but it’s a network. No matter where we are on the planet we are connected and a force to be reckoned with. It just grew from 10 guys to the 65+ members all over the world. We all sit at the table as equals. Of course there is a certain hierarchy, but when it is time to work, we all have the opportunity to contribute and that’s the real beauty of it.
Black Widow: You have so many artists in this collective, how do you unify to get things accomplished while maintaining your own individuality. Do you feel you can get lost being part of such a large network?
Greg Gray: No, not at all. Nu Bang has members who are part of other crews, we don’t’ discourage that. We are not at odds with each other, we complement each other and the brand grows. Everybody wins.
Black Widow: I think for collectives like this to work there has to be a common mindset so egos don’t get in the way. I think the larger the group, the harder that can be.
Greg Gray: That’s true, we are definitely of a common mindset. We’ve been doing this for 15/16 years. We are like minded and like I said we all have a role to play. Everybody can’t DJ a party all the time. If we have a 5 hour party, we can’t have everyone spin!!! We may need you to do something else. You may not be on the bill, a lot of times, I’m not on the bill but I’ll still be there.
Daniell Spencer: Exactly!!! Someone is always represented. That’s just shows the love.
DJ Righteous: it’s true…it’s about the love. That support piece is important especially because we are a large group. We support one another not just by going to the parties but also supporting the art and the craft. That’s important as well! Buy a CD, purchase a shirt…spend some money. It can’t grow if everything is free!
Blk Widow: Aint that the truth!
Greg Gray: With younger cats on board as part of NuBang, we are looking forward to branching out even more, expanding, having more events and keeping the wheels rolling. We want to maintain our impact on our industry.
Black Widow: So what do you think is your individual strength that you bring to this collective?
Daniell Spencer: I’d say DJ Righteous’ energy, Deb’s incredible DJ’ing skills…
Greg Gray: …I have to say, Daniell’s talent is some of the best that I’ve seen in a while…everyone has a skill level that allows each of them to flourish and that’s truly what we look for.
Black Widow: When you are surrounded by people at your level and above, it’s motivating. It challenges you to become even better than you already are. Mutual respect and admiration in a collective creates such a great environment for the musically creative. That’s the musical gumbo I speak about…
Greg Gray: …Oh yes…very true! We’ve had sets just amongst ourselves that are incredible! We all complement one another really well. We have all of that to look forward to with our new members and can’t wait for them to experience that as well. You know, the “old heads” are closer to the front door than the front desk but we can look at what we’ve built and know that it will continue after us. That’s what it’s about.
Black Widow: How would you describe your musical style? Do you subscribe to this phase of music we are in where everything is sub-categorized?
DJ Righteous: No!
DJ Deb: I play what moves me and what moves the crowd.
Greg Gray: It’s just about good music!
DJ Righteous: Unscripted melodies. It’s everything; it’s that musical gumbo you speak about. You don’t want to be pigeonholed. It’s too much great music out here that people can get stuck. You have to expand yourself.
Greg Gray: No one wants to hear the same genre the entire party!
Daniell Spencer: Nah...That’s lazy!
DJ Deb: I owe it to the people who come to support me to educate them on what else is out there. I don’t want to play the top 10 from traxsource. I want to expose people to something different. I love it when people can’t Shazam me!
Daniell Spencer: I think every event poses something different. I do my homework when I arrive at the party. What I think I want to do may change once I’m at the venue. I have to be versatile. I want to get the most from everyone in the crowd from the ones on the dance floor to the ones sipping on their drinks…I want everyone to move or bop their heads.
Greg Gray: Each event has its own stamp. As DJs our responsibility is to move the crowd.
Daniell Spencer: I don’t want to be lazy. Even if I play an all soulful event, I’m going to give them something different.
Black Widow: The crowd remembers those DJs; the ones that make you feel something or hear something different. All of you have jobs, families, etc., how do you balance your art with the rest of your life and responsibilities? How do you continue to pour out your creativity without feeling depleted?
DJ Deb: I have to stay organized and get plenty of sleep.
Greg Gray: Yeah, down time is extremely important.
Daniell Spencer: I learned that the hard way back in the day. That’s why I took time off from it all. I was burned out. I was doing it so heavy and at a high pace. Now, I have recovery days. I don’t do anything related to music. I enjoy my day, decompress and spend time with family.
DJ Righteous: It’s family first. I’m a husband and a dad first. Handling that is paramount. When they are sleep, I’ll listen to music or practice. It’s about that quality time. We have family game nights and date nights and those moments where we are just spending time together. That always comes first. You have to have that balance and keep that home happy.
Black Widow: How do you find music?
Greg Gray: In a digital age, you can find music easily but you have to pay for it and a lot of DJs don’t want to pay for shit!
Black Widow: As an artist, I can attest to that one!
Greg Gray: It’s true! If we can get it in another medium that we like, we’ll roll with that but I still go to the record stores because a lot of stuff coming out now is on vinyl only. Those releases may not make it to Juno or Traxsource until later so if you want it now, you gotta pay for it.
Demetrious Orr: I still dig. I still love shopping for records. Of course, I use Traxsource and Bandcamp and places like that but I still dig whenever I get the opportunity. I use all the mediums. It doesn’t matter, if I want it, I’m going to get it.
Daniell Spencer: You know I had to tell myself at one point that I can’t have it all. I’m a music junkie and I’ll buy music all day long ifI could. I’m at a point, if I can’t get it, I’ll make it myself.
DJ Deb: I had to take a break from buying vinyl. When I moved from the West Coast back to Atlanta, the movers complained about how much vinyl I had. I knew then I had to slow down on my vinyl purchases. Even though it’s available via digital, it still takes hours and hours of your time to find those gems. People don’t really understand that. They think we show up and the music is just there but we take time to really search for music online and otherwise.
Black Widow: What’s in store for the new members of NuBang?
Daniell Spencer: I want to continue to be innovative and just keep moving forward. I’m thankful to be a part of this 2018 class.
DJ Righteous: I’m honored, I’m blessed and thankful. I’m looking forward to working with everyone!
DJ Deb: I want to continue to grow and build and travel more. I’m looking forward to pushing myself to take my career to the next level.
Black Widow: Well thank you all for speaking with me today! I’m looking forward to that’s in store with each of you!
Everyone: Thank you!!!
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Check me out on Dwildmusicradio.com, Deepspaceradio.com, House90.1FM WNAA on TuneIn, Club Classics New York (featured on WSER.com, Dwildmusicradio.com)
DJ Daniell Spencer