Untitled 909 Podcast 173: DJ Tips

A deep and freaky mix inspired by the woods from San Francisco’s DJ Tips.

A champion of the local Bay Area scene, DJ Tips runs the Club Moniker party series which has booked the likes of Carre, Deep Creep, Pascaal, TSVI and more. DJ Tips is also involved in fellow Bay Area party hyper k, where he is a resident and curates the art direction for the series as well as hosting a monthly radio show on sutrofm.

Hi Tommy, how are you doing today? What have you been up to lately?

Doing well, thanks for asking. I’ve been leaning into my inner child and going to the theater almost every weekend. Catching as many films as I can because the current film season has been superb.


Let’s start from the very beginning, what was your first introduction to music in general and then more specifically electronic music? 

My parents introduced me to R&B, disco, and pop classics on the radio. I remember Al Green, Celine Dion, Earth, Wind, and Fire featuring heavily. My dad would obsessively scan through radio stations to avoid ads and keep music flowing during long drives. We would occasionally land on the dance station, which was my favorite. I think about Pump Up the Jam and The Rhythm of the Night often.

Besides listening to electronic music on the radio, I was enchanted by electronic film scores and soundtracks. Sofia Coppola introduced me to Squarepusher and Air. Michael Mann introduced me to Brian Eno and Tangerine Dream. I’ll also never forget THAT Underworld track in Trainspotting. I started seeking electronic music seriously after my ears melted to The Chemical Brothers score for Hanna.


Who was the first artist or band that you were a fan of?

The first band that felt personal and unique to me was Radiohead. I was 7 and visiting my cousin in Alaska. The sun was up for almost 20 hours a day and I was delirious. She turned on MTV and we watched the music video for Paranoid Android. I started searching for music on my own from that point onward.


Was there a formative moment growing up, whether that’s seeing your favourite band live or an incredible DJ set, that led you to this path? 

I saw the Deftones play when I was 17. It was the first time I embraced the atmosphere of intense and melancholic music. It made me want to play the drums more seriously. At the time, I had a Roland electronic drum kit. I started playing around with samples on the drum module and experimented with FL Studio. It all escalated from that point onward.


Did you always envision yourself following a creative path? What are some of your earliest memories exploring creativity?

Watching films was my favorite pastime growing up. I perpetually daydream about moods in films, visualizing ideas and pairing them with music. I pursue anything adjacent.


From what I can see, you launched the Club Moniker party series last year, what motivated you to start a party?

Originally, I wanted to build a rave atmosphere based off of visuals I made a few years ago. I was hooked on distorting imagery with analog video effects, trying to re-interpret what I felt in my dreams. Eventually, I started sequencing visuals while mixing live. The pairing opened my eyes to detail-oriented rave experiences.

I started asking my friends deeper questions about their rave experiences. I sought to understand what made us all click. The motivation grew into wanting to contribute to rave culture in my hometown (San Francisco). I was afraid to do it alone, so I asked 9 of my close friends if they wanted to join. Everything took off when we found strong commonalities: expansive, heady club music, intimate rave environments, and an introspective (occasionally silly) visual identity.

We also wanted to release music from the Bay Area. My lifelong friend Lawrence (Pteron) is an excellent producer/DJ and runs the label side of Club Moniker.


What have you learned from Club Moniker? Do you feel it has influenced how you approach your DJ sets?

I learned that the Bay Area has a strong collective of people who care about dance music. I want to continue being mindful about the bridge between deeply personal, creative inclinations, and respectful circumstances for like-minded fans of club music.

Being active with Club Moniker has helped my confidence with DJing. I feel loose and daring within the comforts of a b2b with the collective. I seek that energy with all of my DJ sets nowadays.


You’re also involved with another local party hyper k, is this through creative direction / flyer work? What got you into designing event flyers? 

Yes, through creative direction and flyer work. Jordan and Matt (Pressing and llloyd) are very kind to let me conduct some mayhem with them for Hyper K. Shout out to Sheila, Rudy (9-System) and SutroFM for our collaborations on production, lights, radio, and more.

I got into designing flyers when my friend (and graphic design genius) Ryan Ormsby showed me how I can incorporate my visuals into flyers. It’s been fun exploring visual identities with Ryan for Club Moniker. I’m still excavating imagery from sessions in the past. Brainstorming new imagery at the moment.


Where do you look for sources of inspiration outside of music? 

I love driving in the Bay Area, gliding through unusual microclimates and geography. I often volunteer for long drives to absorb landscapes. Breezing through a hilly vista helps me ruminate on my relationships and creative ideas.


You’ve also contributed a mix for the 909 series, what’s the concept behind this one? 

I enjoyed a lot of raves in the woods this year. I love how spooky, psychedelic, and warm textures bounce around trees. I love how those textures interact with body rumbling bass and percussion. I wanted to explore all of those elements with UK bass and techno club rhythms.


Do you have a different approach to preparation for club sets to online mixes whether that’s for a platform or radio show?

Yes. With club sets, I try to get insight on the environment and build off of that. I generally lean in on rollers and lively percussion at clubs. With online mixes, I imagine a variety of non-club settings that people are tuning in from and build off of that. It’s always a nice opportunity to play non-club music online.


Is there a staple track in your DJ sets at the moment?

Skeng by The Bug, featuring Killa P and Flowdan. Never gets old.


As we come towards the end of the year and start reflecting on 2023, what’s been one of your favourite memories from this year? 

Experiencing No Way Back in Detroit for the first time with my friends 🙂