triad dj profile
Real name: Jonathan Kirby
DJ Handle: Fresh Lewis
What it means: One day I was digging through several crates of wonderful, but high-mileage rap records at a thrift shop in rural North Carolina. I found an empty 12-inch sleeve with the name “Fresh Lewis” emblazoned across it. I thought it was such a hilarious name — the antithesis of fresh, even — that I knew it was perfect for me.
What I play: All vinyl. Stylistically speaking, I like to keep my sets pretty well focused; they can range in subject matter from local oddities to ’80s synthesizer soul to ’90s hip hop/R&B.
Catch me at: Every Thursday at Tate’s Bar in Winston-Salem I host a party called the Deep End. It’s a generous mix of major and minor label releases, 1967-1974. Everything from the Supremes to some gospel 45s recorded under a picnic shelter in Ahoskie.
Got in the game: 2004
Why I do it: I had been collecting records for years, and with the amount of money I was spending, I had to generate some revenue. DJing became a self-sustaining manner of supporting my habit and sharing my discoveries with others.
Influences: DJ Lemon Lyme taught me a lot about mic control and crowd interaction. I listen to his “Saturday Night Soul Party” religiously on WQMG. Chanting/ toasting is something that is largely missing amongst my generation of DJs; for me it is a crucial aspect of connecting.
First pro gig: This would be a misleading statistic, since my favorite gigs are always the least professional ones.
Signature mix: I released a two-disc mix last year called Gangster Love/Irie Radio. One disc was deep orchestral soul-jazz and the other was sweet roots-reggae. It allowed me to create broad musical statements and relay extremely specific emotions. Greensboro rapper Brandon D laced up one song wholesale for his Carolina Legend mix tape, which I considered an honor.
Connecting the dots between soul and hip hop is what it’s all about for me.
Personal playlist: I listen to a lot of radio. WNAA 90.1-FM is a model citizen for the broadcast community. I listen to 102 Jamz, even though I think they’re behind a sinister plot to systematically destroy rap music.
Favorite albums: The entire works of Lil Wayne, OutKast and Curtis Mayfield, plus talented family like Dam-Funk, G-Side and the Love Language. You’re only as good as your weakest album, a formula from which these artists are exempt.
My gear: Technic 1200 turntables, Shure White Label cartridges, a rotating cast of archaic mixers/the Rane TT56, Roland Space Echo tape delay unit, a pair of enormous headphones from the ’70s that Japanese guys are always trying to buy off of me.
I’d like to add: Aspiring DJs: You can have all the MP3s in the world, but if you don’t have an identity, you’re no better than the dude whose hard drive you hijacked. Ladies: I know it’s your birthday, but requests are mildly to moderately insulting. If you’re not enjoying the music, you should go somewhere else that suits your tastes, not try and derail the vibe because you want to hear “Thriller.”