Wendy Hunt interview
|This Saturday night (October 26), Greg Gilbert and Thriller welcome Wendy Hunt (Provincetown) to the Wyndham Bel Age Ballroom. Recently Scott Van Tussenbrook had the opportunity to chat with Wendy about this upcoming gig and get a glimpse into the life of a DJ with incredible staying power and a loyal following of fans; one of P-Town’s favorite hometown DJ’s who is increasingly bringing her own brand of joyful, versatile talent out here to our coast.
SV: So, Wendy, the obvious question--how did you get started DJ’ing? Why? Give us your DJ life’s story in a nutshell.
WH: I got interested in 1974. I was a nursing student at Northeastern University in Boston and I frequented a club called the 1270. I saw the jukebox get replaced by the man who became my mentor, Jimmy Stuard… Why did I get started doing it myself? Because the music made people happy and I wanted to be a part of that. I soon became very passionate about not only the music, but the way the DJ transitioned from one song to the next. Mind you, this was back in the days of 45's, album cuts and NO variable speed turntables! I abandoned the life I THOUGHT I had wanted, for a big adventure.
SV: A leap of faith. That’s quite a jump for a nursing student!
I HAD to do it. I was hooked from the moment my shaky hand put the needle on the first record I ever played ("Tell Me What You Want" - Jimmy Ruffin).
SV: The last song ever played at The Saint was also Jimmy Ruffin--"Hold On To My Love"—you were “in the biz” during the years of The Saint. Did you ever hang out there?
WH: I was one of 13 female members at The Saint. Sharon White (DJ @ The Saint) was instrumental in getting me my membership. To this day, it's my favorite club of all times. I never did spin there though...
SV: How long, then, have you been working as a DJ?
WH: I've been a DJ since 1975....
SV: So you've been around the "scene" long enough to see it go through some pretty significant changes. What are some of your favorite highlights of the last 27 years?
WH: The evolution of the music has been interesting, to say the least. Every party I've played where the moon, stars and planets were in alignment, have been the highlights of my career. You know, when everything's "right"… the dancers, the lights, the music.
SV: I know those nights. Where the energy just all comes together. You can’t predict them, they just happen. Do you have favorites, events that stand out as being particularly memorable?
Well for example, the Sunday pool party at White Party Palm Springs 2002, the last time I played at Arena in Seattle, Sunday nights at the Metro (now "Avalon," in Boston), Wednesday nights at the 1270 in 1975-76, etc., etc. I could name hundreds of times. I live in gratitude for all the great moments my job has given me over the past 27 years.
SV: Every few years you hear people grumble--"The best days are behind us," or, "The music just isn't as good as it used to be." Do you agree with that? Is there a period of "good old days" behind us?
WH: It really depends on your age. Let's face it, the rich, pure sounds of REAL strings, drums, horns, etc. are a thing of the past in the dance music of today. Those sounds are sampled in other songs but now the music you hear on the dance floor is mostly electronically produced. So, I think what's missed are the REAL sounds that came with the older material...
SV: Where do you live now, is that where you spin mostly, and if not, where do you consider your "home" town?
WH: I was born in Glendale, CA and raised in Massachusetts. I now live in Provincetown, MA, which is also my "home" town....
SV: Hmmm... I must get myself to P-Town one of these days. I've been told I'm going to have my Gay Card, if not my Circuit Credentials, yanked if I don't get there soon.
WH: You most definitely will! Summer’s beautiful and VERY crowded with lots of tourists, in spring the town is very pretty as the flowers grow and leaves reappear on trees, fall is my favorite… not TOO cold, event weeks, and the incredibly picturesque foliage. I spin seasonally at the Crown & Anchor complex (Paramount, Wave, the Vault) May thru December… I also play nationwide at clubs and circuit events on an average of 3 times a month year round... I am blessed.
SV: Absolutely. How often do you make it out to this coast?
WH: I've only started playing on the west coast since White Party 2002 in Palm Springs; since then, I've played in Seattle, San Diego and now L.A. on October 26…
SV: When I first started going to parties, I was told there were three kinds of dance music, New York "Hard House," Miami "Tribal House," and L.A. "Happy House." Is that accurate at all?
WH: Yes, NY is still hard house, Miami is still tribal and L.A. (I've heard) is happy house. We’ll see what the crowd is in the mood for on Saturday.
SV: So what is your favorite style of music you like to play for a crowd, in P-Town or elsewhere? I think those musical lines (if they ever really existed) are blurring now, but I know the L.A. boys do still love the hands-in-the-air happy. I take it we can expect a good dose of that from you?
WH: I like to play what my crowd wants to hear. I lean towards vocally, anthemy, tribally, cutting-edgy... My music tends to be happy, not angry… I like the journey aspect and, being that every crowd is different, every journey is different. And yes, you WILL hear hands-in-the-air happy music mixed up with lots of surprises!! I do carry with me a wide variety of music since you never know what your crowd is going to want or where the journey is going to go so I like to be prepared.
SV: That’s a lot of records to drag around. Do you have any of those nightmare stories of arriving at a gig and the airline lost your luggage?
When I travel I spin mostly CD’s, because they’re so much easier to carry, and I don’t check them. The music comes onto the airplane with me.
SV: So from vinyl to CD’s, and then the inevitable technological leap is from CD’s to .mp3’s. What are your thoughts on digital music, and downloading, and all of that?
WH: There is so much great talent out there, and people working hard and just doing their own thing, that a lot of really great stuff never gets released on a label, and never will. Sometimes the best bootlegs, the best underground mixes, show up as .mp3’s first which make them a great source for some of the really great tracks that nobody will have heard before, and won’t ever hear otherwise.
SV: What sort of music do you listen to when you're not spinning?
WH: I like silence a lot, the sounds of the bay and the ocean are good, the rustling of dried up leaves as you walk through them in the fall...
SV: Leave it to a DJ to appreciate the music in silence, and nature.
WH: But musically, I like laid back, unusual stuff you'd find on a "Hed Kandi," "Real Ibiza" or "Buddha Bar" CD compilation....
SV: So your big adventure you abandoned your nursing career for has really turned out for you, hasn’t it?
WH: It has. I have so much to be thankful for. You really have to believe in yourself, follow your dream, and make it happen. I remember sometimes dancing at 1270 with my mentor Jimmy Stuard spinning, and I’d think of a song I wanted to hear. So I’d write my request down on a cocktail napkin and hold it up for him to read, and he’d point down to one of the turntables and smile, because usually he already had that song cued up and ready to go. That’s when I knew that this is what I was supposed to be doing.
SV: So now you’re starting to travel more and show your stuff to a wider audience.
WH: And I’m very grateful for the opportunity. Patti (Razetto) has been instrumental in getting me gigs out on the west coast; it’s kind of a big deal to move on from your home crowd to the road, to new cities and new experiences.
SV: How do you yourself describe your own sound?
WH: The best way for me to answer that question is to quote reactions I get from the crowd, which is usually something like, “Oh my GOD, I haven’t heard that many vocals in forever!” Not that I spin all vocals, all divas, all the time, but I like to infuse my sets with some big, popular, crowd-pleasers that unify the dance floor and bring everybody together.
SV: Well, welcome to Los Angeles, we look forward to hearing you on Saturday.
THRILLER 3 - Greg Gilbert Presents this annual Halloween event upstairs in the Wyndham Bel Age Ballroom (1020 N. San Vicente Blvd). DJ WENDY HUNT (White Party, P-Town) Advance tickets $15. Also limited THRILL BANDS--GETS YOU INTO THRILLER & HELL, FOR $20. AVAILABLE @ LASC, HERE & PERFECT BEAT.