DJ/producer Ceeplus Bad Knives is a long-time staple of the Houston music scene. Since the 80s, he has been involved in some aspect of Houston music, and continues to perform and produce music. South By Southwest‘s own Matt Sonzala has said of Ceeplus: “He’s one of the foremost experimental DJ’s on the TX scene who’s not afraid to take chances…” He has won the Best DJ award in the Houston Press‘ “Best of Houston” and has shared the stage with some of electronic music’s finest.
Ceeplus recently answered some questions for Houston Calling about SXSW and his thoughts on Houston music’s past and future.
Houston Calling: I know you’ve played in Austin during SXSW before. What are you as a DJ hoping to get out of this year’s SXSW?
Ceeplus Bad Knives: More so this year than any other year, I’m going more as an electronic music producer and playing as DJ. My goal is to get my name out there as an electronic music producer. That’s one of my main focuses. I hold many torches, though, and one of them is DJ-ing and producing, and promoting events, doing marketing, so when I go to South By Southwest, I’m kind of two people…
HC: Is there anything in particular that you’re looking forward to seeing during SXSW?
Ceeplus: I wouldn’t mind checking out the SPIN magazine party this year. I missed it last year, but hear that Courtney Love and Hole is playing this year, which could be interesting to see.
HC: In retrospect, how do you view the sets you’ve played before during SXSW?
Ceeplus: Every single time that I’ve played, other than the early days when I was playing with a group, as a solo artist I have gotten so much out of South By Southwest. From going to panels and learning about licensing, music industry dos and don’ts, to actually getting connected to out of town shows and promoters, and meeting agents face to face that I’ve been working with for years as a talent buyer, and meeting my clients face to face as a marketer. And as well as other artists who are my peers who we contact each other online, but we finally get to meet face to face and have a drink and seriously work together.
My performances, I’ve been fortunate enough to play some pretty fun showcases. Last year, I played the same showcase as DJ Sun. It was at a really cool venue, and I have gotten a lot out of it. Everything from networking to actual legitimate business endeavors. This year, I am really focusing on my music and production, and I have been already been speaking with a few different labels of choice…
HC: As a DJ, how much do you let your personal taste influence what you choose to spin in a given setting? Obviously not everything you like will please every person listening…
Ceeplus: I’ll tell you this: as a disc jockey, first and foremost, I’m pretty much 100 percent my personal taste. I look at myself as a record collector, and I have been since I was literally born, I was born and raised into a family of over-the-top record collectors. So, first and foremost, I’m a collector. And the only reason I got into DJ-ing was to share my musical tastes with others.
I’m definitely not, and never will be, one of those DJs who plays the crowd. That sounds kind of mean, but I don’t. I take it upon myself to educate the crowd, or maybe influence the crowd, or maybe give the crowd a bit of what I like hoping they’ll walk way with something…I wish every DJ would do a little bit of what I’m doing and take some changes and throw some of their personal tastes–whether it be good or bad– in the the music they’re playing, versus what’s on the Billboard 100 or whatever… There’s so many albums out there that are great that are just not being played.
HC: Any music you’ve been listening to lately that you’d recommend?
Ceeplus: DFA Records / Rong Records / RVNG of the Nerds re-edits / //TENSE// / Optimo / Woolfy / 6th Borough Project / Ssion / Toomey Disco / Clone Records / Minimal Wave.org releases
HC: How do you view the Houston music scene these days? How do you see that it’s changed?
Ceeplus: One thing that always caught my attention, and I grew in the Montrose/Heights my whole life, and have been a part of the music scene for a really long time–going to shows, producing shows–since my teens, since the 80s. And it seems that things comes and go in waves here, you know? A group of bands will be big draws– local indie bands, rock bands–and a few years down the line they’re just not heard of. They break up, they go on with their lives, and are never heard of again.
It seems right now, we’re in one of those renaissances where there are a lot of young, up-and-coming bands that are just bringing a lot to the table. You’ve got The Tontons, Wild Moccasins, Golden Axe, Fat Tony. It’s like a new wave of indie artists that are performing and putting out records, are touring, and getting great reviews on blogs. I think it’s a great time right now, people’s eyes are on Houston and we have some national and international recording artists living here. I know people in the electronic music community and the rock community that are working out deals with labels for distribution. Of course, we have the rap scene, but in the rock and indie scenes there are some good things happening here and it’s good to see that finally happening…
HC: And we have the Free Press Houston Summerfest now…
Ceeplus: Yeah, with people like the Free Press putting on Summerfest and putting on things like the Block Party, that’s really brought a lot of people together and really created sense of camaraderie within the scene to make people feel like they’re a part of something. Were were in a lull there. And the thing about the Free Press, they’re not just about doing it for the city, they’re for doing it for the public, whereas one of my biggest pet peeves with Houston was when, if there is one promoter or one promotion company, if there’s a monopoly–this is indie, then that show goes to that promoter. And for a while it was like that here, and I think that really hurt Houston more than it helps. I like seeing multiple promoters, multiple venues booking, in-house booking…because what that does is diversify. If you go a show at Mango’s it’s going to be different than if you went to a show put on by the House of Blues. There’s so many different people putting together shows that are similar, which I think makes the scene more vibrant.
Here’s a video from Ceeplus Bad Knives:
Ceeplus Bad Knives plays his official SXSW showcase on Wednesday, 3.17.10, at Club 115 (115 San Jacinto St.) at 8pm. He also plays during the Pegstar.net/Free Pree Houston party on Friday, 3.19.10.