DJ Idem Interview - Crate Diggin'
Author: Jeremy King
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
"I guess I've always thought of myself as some kind of professional appreciateur" - Rob from High Fidelity.
Most people (usually white, single men) who shop for vinyl have seen or are at least aware of the book/movie 'High Fidelity' and how well it parodies the simple act of collecting vinyl or shopping at record stores. So when I sit down to interview DJ Idem (aka Johnny Idem) I can't help but see several parallels to the Nick Hornby book. Just like Rob, the lead character in the aforementioned novel, Johnny co-owns a record shop (Jaycees Records)with his wife), has a ridiculously large record collection and in his spare time he spins funk, soul and hip hop. As such I can't help feeling that throughout the interview, Johnny is going to start doing top fives at any moment. Fortunately, Johnny is just a really laidback guy who loves collecting and playing '70s funk and soul records.
The only thing it seems that Johnny likes doing more than collecting records is sharing his love of these particular genres of music. Everyone who buys more than a couple of records from his store gets one of his very cool mix CDs. He also likes spreading the love through DJing and he'll be spinning very early in the morning at the upcoming Meredith Music Festival. From past experience this early morning session can prove to be rather a messy affair but this doesn't seem to bother Johnny who just enjoys playing quality picks from his record collection.
"Last time I really liked just playing what I wanted to play," he tells me. "Just going through my whole 20,000 record collection and just pulling out things that I knew that I really liked and would love to dance to myself, and that hopefully the people at Meredith would also enjoy. I actually ended up playing an extra half hour. It was 7.45 when I was finished. And I always look at the crowd to see if they are enjoying themselves. I just see what they like and flick through my record box. It is really spontaneous and I can do that because I bring about 300 records."
Johnny's record collection is truly something to behold. A black sea of smooth curves and thin cardboard, it ranges somewhere around the 20,000 mark and is predominantly '70s funk and soul, although there is also quite a lot of hip hop and other various oddities. Ploughing through this collection, in order to get the best cuts for a DJ set would surely take the patience of a turntable saint. For Johnny, however, flicking through records and picking the best stuff is absolutely second nature.
"It basically takes a day to go through the whole collection and get what I consider are the good dancefloor tracks. All of it is from the '60s and '70s, with a few early '80s electro 7 inches thrown in. I've always said that I would be playing dance music from the '60s, '70s and early '80s and I hope people enjoy that rather than hearing 'now' dance music… I kind of wanted to go through the whole collection and bring those because it's good to hear something different."
And no one should ever doubt Mr. Idem's dedication to the art of collecting and sharing quality music. Most people who collect or buy vinyl are used to sacrificing the odd meal or cup of coffee in order to get that mint edition of Kool And The Gang. Johnny it seems used to take this one step further and simply foregos basic necessities in order to buy more vinyl. "I'd eat toast and 2 minute noodles," he states. "I'd go the bakery and just get bread and a bottle of cordial. But now that's a couple of years ago."
So really, for all those people going to Meredith the question needs to be asked. How can you not trust a DJ who is that dedicated-