Is there a meaning behind your Dj name?
Yes. The name Cyclonus is the name of one of the Decepticons from the original American cartoon of The Transformers. Cyclonus' first appearance was in the original 1986 Transformers movie. I was a huge fan of the cartoon when I was growing up as a kid in the 1980s, and Cyclonus became my favorite Decepticon. When it came time to come up with a DJ name for myself, I chose it, not only for that reason, but the name also implies a cyclone, which is something that spins, like CDs and records. I also always loved the shade of purple that the character was colored. The fact that I later moved to an apartment within walking distance of the Cyclone roller-coaster at Coney Island is just a coincidence.
How long have you been spinning?
For quite awhile now that I think about it. I started really getting into music in high school in the 1990s. Back then I listened to skater punk, ska, metal, and hardcore. My introduction to the goth genre came in 1998 when I saw a horror movie on TV called "Night of the Demons" (I've always been a huge horror movie fan). There is a scene in the film where the main character, a goth girl named Angela, gets possessed by a demon and dances to the song "Stigmata Martyr" by Bauhaus. As soon as I heard the song I was hooked, and I went out bought the album "In the Flat Field" on CD. Fast forward to my sophomore year of college in 2000, and I had built up quite a collection of goth, industrial, and 80s music. At that time, most of the goth club events in the NYC scene were 18+ to enter (with a wristband to drink if you were over 21), so I started venturing out into the clubs at the age of 19 a year earlier. My first event was DJ Ian Ford's "Electra-City" at Pyramid Club on Tuesday nights. It was really Ian's DJing that inspired me to become a DJ myself. I asked him if he could show me the basics one night at the Limelight and he took me up in the booth and gave me a quick "DJing 101" lesson. Soon after (circa 2001) I had bought a cheap DJ mixer from Radio Shack and hooked up two portable CD Discmans to it, and started practicing. That summer I started recording mixtapes for friends parties, and one of them suggested that I was actually "good at this DJing thing", and that I should try to get a gig. I made a demo CD and started handing out to other DJs at club nights to try to get a guest gig. The first response came from the DJs running an event called "Sphere" at a club called Chunky's in Mineola NY (near where I was living at the time), and they gave me my first shot behind the decks at a club in the winter of 2002. After that, I got professional equipment, and a lot more guest DJ spots. I also started DJing live for friends house parties, instead of making pre-recorded mixes. I pretty much took any DJing opportunity that arose. So I guess you can say my official start as a DJ began in 2002, which would make it 16 years now.
Do you like goblins or gremlins?
I would say both. As a child of the 1980s, the film "Gremlins" will always be a favorite (it's typically one of the films up on the screen at my monthly event Arkham during our December event). I'm also a fan of Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, and folklore in general, so goblins are pretty awesome too!
A lot of people on vampirefreaks love animals. Do you have any? If so tell us about them.
I do love animals. I'm actually a cat person, though I wouldn't mind a dog either. Unfortunately, our landlady doesn't allow pets in our apartment (other than fish), or my wife and I would definitely own a cat. We do have a few feral cats that have taken up a permanent residency in our driveway though. We feed them, try to keep them comfortable during the cold winter months, and even supply them with a catnip toy now and then. In exchange, they help to keep rodents out of the building.
Do you have a go-to set list? What's the first three on it?
While it was something I did when I first started DJing, I don't really plan set-lists anymore. I pretty much just go with the flow of the crowd on that night. I will pack a virtual "crate" so to speak (which is an iTunes playlist loaded into djay 2 on my iPad setup), of stuff that I would like to play that night. It varies from month to month, depending on the theme of the event that night, or based on newly released tracks that I want to introduce. Some Arkham staples that are pretty much always in my crate are "No Pleasure" by Eva Everything and "Love Will Find A Way" by Kiernan Paradise, both of which are from the 1987 horror film "The Gate" (though the Kiernan Paradise song is actually a cover of a song featured in that film), which is a movie I realize I'm kind of obsessed with. Also almost always in the crate is "Discotheque Necronomicon" by Killing Miranda. These tracks don't always get played though. It depends on the mood and vibe of the crowd, which can change from night to night. The only time I pre-plan a set is when I record for my Mixcloud.com mixes.
What kind of music do you spin?
I try to keep a lot of variety, unless I'm at an event where only specific genre(s) was requested. One of the things I loved about the NYC goth scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s is that the events had a lot of variety. It wasn't just strictly goth rock and post-punk, or just EBM and Industrial, or just new wave. I always had the most fun at the nights that mixed it up with all of those genres, and that's sort what I try to replicate with my monthly party, Arkham. If anyone was a regular at DJ Ian Ford's nights back in the day, you'll definitely hear his influence in what I do with Arkham, as I've tried to basically make a more goth and horror version of his old night "Electra-City." The main genres I spin are Goth Rock, Post-Punk, Darkwave, Synth-Pop, Dark 80's, and some Industrial and EBM. I also spin some sub-genres like Cold Wave and Minimal Synth. As I said, I try to mix it up and keep things interesting, not getting bogged down by conforming to one genre for too long.
Dead Bettie: I would have never known that you spin those main genres! Haha I thought it would for sure be Industrial and ebm based on your Dj name. Well guys! As they say "Never judge a book by its cover", but in this scenario it's more like; "Never judge a Dj by their Dj name."
Tell us about your d&d stuff, how long have you been playing?
I actually got into D&D much later. My first tabletop RPGing experiences are with White Wolf games. In the summer of 1999, I came across the RPG books section at a Barnes & Noble bookstore, and I found a green marble game book titled "Vampire: The Masquerade." Being a horror fan and also quite a fan of vampire folklore, I picked it up and started flipping through it. I made the decision to buy it at a whim and read it cover to cover in a few days. The whole concept of running a pen and paper tabletop RPG seemed like it would be a lot of fun, so I got some friends together and started running a campaign. The rest is sort of history. Roleplaying games becomes a great hobby the more you get into it, and I've made quite a number of close friends via gaming circles. I tend to enjoy running games (Storyteller; or Dungeon Master for D&D) more than playing as a character in someone else's game -- the exception being D&D -- which I'd rather play a character than run. Currently I'm running two game campaigns, one is a Changeling: The Lost game set in Stephen King's multiverse in the year 1987. The other is a Geist: The Sin Eaters game set in Portland, Maine in the year 1885. I also run a Vampire LARP with friends once a year on my birthday.
Dead Bettie: My brother in law plays D&D games heavily. And I have learned some of the basics. I actually want to learn how to do it. I never knew there was so much writing, and strategy in this game. It's very strategic. That's what peaked my interest- the writing and the analytical thinking and strategy.
You enjoy rollerblading and snowboarding? Can you elaborate on that?
I started rollerblading in 1994 during what most of us rollerbladers call the "1990s Golden Age of Rollerblading." My first pair of blades were a standard recreational model, but a lot of the guys at my high school were into what is called "Aggressive Inline Skating" which, taking a lot of inspiration from skateboarding, is using rollerblades to do tricks and stunts as an extreme sport. So, inspired by what I was seeing, I also started skating "aggressively." I also tried skateboarding more that a few times as well, but was never all that good at it. After fracturing my ankle and then later spraining that very same ankle trying to do a kick-flip, I decided that I should just stick to rollerblading! I bladed heavily from 1994 until college really got in the way in 2000. I kind of forgot about rollerblading for awhile, and then picked it back up again in 2012. I'm really regretting taking that 12-year break, as it has now taken me about six years to get back to the skill level I was when I stopped. I'm almost there, but not quite. I have yet to grind any big handrails again like I did back when I was younger. Needless to say, its much harder being athletic in your late 30s!
I also started snowboarding during my college years. I find that much easier than skateboarding since the board is strapped to your feet! I've been told by bladers that I'd probably be a better skier, but I never skied and I'm just more attracted to snowboarding. Its a very expensive sport though. I can really only afford to go once or twice a season at most, so it's taken me longer to progress with it than I have with rollerblading. I can do some jibs and (small) jumps in the park, and my riding skill is Blue trails. I can do Black Diamonds and survive, but I don't find them to be much fun! Typically I go to Hunter Mountain in NY, but when I can afford it, I make a trip up to Mount Snow in Vermont, which is my favorite East Coast mountain. I've also been to Windham, Killington, and Camelback.
You make art and do some graphic designing? Do tell!
Yes, I have a BFA in Graphic Design from Pratt Institute. Which is why I am pretty poor (the starving artist stereotype has some validity). I've always been a creative person and found that I had artistic talent (drawing) at a very young age. As such, it's what I pursued in school. In my junior and senior year of high school, I took a vocational course to learn graphic design to prepare me for my college studies at Pratt. I graduated from Pratt in 2002, which was probably one of the worst times to graduate with a degree in graphic design. I had a lot of trouble finding an entry level position in the field. It's the typical runaround of "you need experience, but can't get experience until someone gives you a shot" catch 22. I worked full-time as a bank teller to pay the bills while freelancing here and there. I'm still a freelancer. Mostly though, I got work in photo-retouching for e-commerce sites, which actually pays better than graphic design. Even that has dried up as of late though, so I launched an Etsy shop called "Grafes Ende Pyrography" where I sell wood-burned religious art based on Norse/Germanic paganism (my religious beliefs). Luckily, my wife has a good enough job that we can pay our bills. If not, we definitely wouldn't be able to to continue to afford living in NYC. At least my graphic design skills come in handy when designing fliers and promo material for my DJ nights!
When are your next Dj gigs?
My residency is my night Arkham, which I created back in 2010. We are currently on every last Friday of the month at Bizarre Bushwick in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn. I would love to have more guest DJ spots, but for that to happen, I have to be invited to do so (hint, hint, NYC goth scene promoters)!
People want to know; what do you love about djing? Is it being able to get people to dance? Or watching your superhuman Dj skills? Or did you make a deal with a wizard?
For me it's about three things. First, the music that I love. Second, being able to share the experience of that music with others. And last but not least, throwing a party where my guests have a great time. The most rewarding part about being a DJ or an entertainer really, is when you see a room full of people having a great time, dancing, enjoying the same things you enjoy, and knowing that you are a part of bringing them that experience. Knowing that you are bringing people with like interests together as a community where friendships and even romantic relationships can blossom. Even on a slow night, if there are even just a few people out on the dance-floor that I can tell are having a great time, it's what makes it worth it and keeps me going, despite all the hard work and budgeting (which we often don't even make back) that goes into promoting and running a night. Being a DJ in a niche scene like the goth scene is far from lucrative. As other DJs in this scene have often said, it's a labor of love.
Dead Bettie: You and Dj ralphienigma think alike. This is beautiful and well said!
Last question; we'll sort of. Leave us with a quote:
"The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." — H.P. Lovecraft
As a horror fan, Lovecraft is on one of my favorite authors. This quote always resonated with me, because if you think about it, fear is the cause of most of our societal woes. Human beings fear what they don't understand. That fear can lead to anger and prejudice, which in its extremes lead to things like bigotry, homophobia, racism, sexism, misogyny, etc. It's ironic as Lovecraft himself was quite xenophobic, but he was on to something. If we can all get past the fear and reach understanding, this world would probably be a much better place.
You can find Dj Cyclonus on VF dj_cyclonus