ZAKIM PODCAST #01: Bob Diesel


Welcome to the first installment of the Zakim Podcast series!

Anyone familiar with the ones I used to do over at Beantown Boogiedown know the drill: I bring a dope DJ on board to record a 1-2 hour mix, and either do an interview or some other form of write-up on what they’ve currently got going on. For Zakim I’m pretty much doing the same exact thing, and I’m pulling no punches by kicking it off with Bob Diesel.

If you’ve been in Boston’s underground house scene for more than a minute you know Bob. He’s been DJ’ing for, like, FORTY YEARS. That’s a lot of experience and a lot of records there. He’s probably spent like half that time listening to records he doesn’t like to whittle things down to what he does. He doesn’t do mixes online very often so it’s an honor to have him kick this off.

Bob’s mix is highly melodic and packs no shortage of vocals. He hits on everything from gospel to classic Frankie Knuckles-style garage, tribal, acid, Latin, African, hell even French if you’re factoring in “Deep Burnt” which makes an appearance early on. This man’s got good taste, and this is definitely a 95-minute session I’ll be keeping in rotation for awhile.

Bob and I chatted a bit over email and talked about the state of things in Boston, so I got things condensed in a quick Q-and-A sesh for you guys.

Nick: Bob, congrats on doing the music thing for longer than most of us have been alive. What do you think has changed about the community the most since you started DJ’ing 40 years ago? And what do you think has changed the least in that time span?

Bob: The community here in Boston has grown a bit but not much, however I think it’s been spreading apart. Most promoters and DJ’s that host their own party do not communicate with each other pertaining to their respective events with the same genre and fall on the same night and the same town. The Locals are not respected, especially the virtually unknown that draws a crowd like the more popular or World Class “Out of Towners” and not paid fairly, it’s a lot of “Political Politricks”.

Nick: It’s no secret there is a much lower barrier to entry to becoming a DJ in 2016, both technically and musically. Has this change in dynamics made gigging tougher for you due to increased competition, or has your experience enabled you to stay at the top of the pecking order?

Not really, I’ve managed to remain successful however, everyone wants to be a DJ, some for fame some for the music but the ones who last are the ones that heed to the art of being a DJ and take it seriously and honing their craft and be innovative to be successful and have longevity. I’m blessed to have the opportunity to be able to do what I love to do and share that with others, but due to technology now a days anyone can play music and call themselves a DJ. A good friend of mine and fellow DJ, Jide Max made a quote that was most poignant for anyone that wants get into this business “Anyone can be a DJ but a good DJ knows how to put music together”.

Nick: I’m sure you have a wealth of stories spending time with some of house and techno’s pioneers in the 80s. What was one of your most memorable experiences in those fledgling years, and who were you with?

Bob: Hanging out with Derrick May at his house in Detroit with Eddie Folkes, Juan Atkins and Mick Jagger and Mick Jagger was deeply interested in learning about House Music and Techno.

Nick: Many people involved in underground art movements leave Boston for greener pastures. What has kept you here? Do you envision staying in Boston for as long as possible?
Bob: I like Boston, it’s like a small New York and it has certain similarities also it’s just three hours away, so I’m not really home sick. I think I’ll be here for a while.

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