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Campus DJs to perform this Friday at Techtonica

By Candace Mettle

“Enjoy the moment and dance.” Those are the words of advice from Hameedullah Weaver ’17 to students interested in Techtonica this Friday, April 14. Along with Jenkin Benson ’17, the two have revitalized an ever-present, but underground, student led music event. As underclassmen, they attended Techtonic Gardner in spring 2014 and were blown away. That year had been the last time that an all-electronic and publicized music event showcasing student DJs had been held, until now, rebranded as “Techtonica.”

Weaver and Benson felt inspired to restart this event to preserve its legacy and give other student DJs the chance to perform.

“A lot of times at [the College], if you try to play stuff that’s unfamiliar to people’s ears they don’t want to hear,” Weaver said. “At house parties, you have to play top 40s. [Techtonica] gives students the chance of expression to play whatever they want and have people be receptive and dance to it.”

Weaver began his DJ career during Block Party after a student asked him if he would like to DJ for the rest of the night at his house. However, his interest in music began in childhood. He credits his interest to his family who played genres from reggae to hip-hop, and his hometown of Chicago, the birthplace of house music.

“That same summer after Block Party, I downloaded Virtual DJ,” Weaver said. “I’ve always been interested in DJing but at [Block Party] I realized that I really liked this feeling, so I wanted to do it more.”

Benson, who goes by Yung San Pellegrino, had a similar experience. In high school, Benson had produced music, usually in the rock genre with a guitar, but based on his location he could not find people who shared the same level of interest.

“I had a laptop and I [realized] you can only compose so much on guitar, so I got computer programs that produce tracks like electronic music. Eventually I started beats and synth pop and hip hop instrumentals and it was a natural progression.”

Benson also has used his skills to add to campus culture.

“I’m kind of an anxious dude and when I was at parties they weren’t always the most comfortable thing for me,” Benson said. “I love music and I made music, so I thought that I might as well add to the party.”

Weaver is new to composition but because of his interest in DJing, he felt comfortable starting to make his own music.

“It’s only recently that I’ve been really developing the craft of making my own music,” he said. “I’ve been listening to other people’s music and I thought that if they can do it, I can do it, to so that’s what inspired me to make music.”

The lineup will feature Benson, Weaver, Jack Marchesi ’20 and Deniz Sahin ’20, who will share an hour and Juliet Torres ’19, who had actually encouraged Weaver to push for an event to showcase students.

Torres, aka “Uncle J,” also hails from Chicago and has been influenced by its music scene. Attending college has encouraged her to become an amateur DJ and to share her favorite sounds. Techtonica will provide the opportunity for Torres to perform her Chicago-based style, rather than purely conform to what partiers want.

In her first year as a student, Torres DJ’ed for Harris parties. Like Weaver and Benson, most of her experience DJing has come from providing music for parties. Since then, Torres has developed her craft.

“Honestly, I didn’t know that I could be good at DJing and that I had a niche for it,” Torres said. “I have a good way of figuring out what beats sound good together and I didn’t figure that out until now when I was able to discover new music that I hadn’t known about before college.”

The DJ culture at the College, although burgeoning, has helped her grow as an artist.

“I want to learn how to scratch in the future and use turntables, which is really expensive,” she said. “Prior to DJing, I didn’t know it is so technology based. Most DJs use computers whereas before you used vinyl records to scratch and make music which is super cool but the learning process has been really hard.”

Although the DJ community at the College has been very supportive, Torres has encountered some students who didn’t recognize her talent. Torres does not know the root cause of her peers disbelieve in her abilities—most likely a combination of race and gender.

“I remember there was a Gardner I had been asked to DJ and they put me at the 11-12 slot,” Torres recalled. “These two other guys were DJing and they wanted to play in my spot. When I refused, they said ‘well you are not a DJ.’ While I was DJing in my slot, they were like looking behind my shoulder like I didn’t know what I was doing.”

Weaver, Benson and Torres hope that students will be receptive of the work they have done at Techtonica.

“This is an event [where] … you’re coming to dance but also to hear songs that you may have never heard before,” Benson said. “[Techtonica] is an experience and a performance.”

Photo by Mahira Faran.
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