Get to know JAMZ 93.1 FM's DJ Pain 1

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Posted by on December 17, 2008 at 10:44:25:

Hip-hop producer DJ Pain 1 spins a name for himself
Katjusa Cisar

DJ Pain 1 recently produced a track on an album that debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in September.

But that doesn't mean he's living the high life.

"I get e-mails from young people saying, 'Man, I wish I had your life. You're a famous DJ and a producer,' And I'm thinking, 'No, I'm not. I don't even own a car,'" he said.

DJ Pain 1, aka Pacal Bayley, is a graduate student in linguistics at UW-Madison who rides the bus between two part-time jobs and lives at home with his parents to save money. It's only in the last couple of years that the 25-year-old has become comfortable considering himself a professional musician.

"But professional doesn't necessarily mean well-established," he's quick to add.

In Madison, at least, he is established. He spins at venues all over town and has produced and performed with a wide variety of acts, from singer Felicia Alima and rapper Kev Brown to God-des and She, a lesbian hip-hop/soul duo best known for their hit on Showtime's "The L Word."

He and MC Starr, aka Cody Wilson, record and perform together as the Fall Guys. Since earlier this year, they've also been hosting Planet Jamz, a Saturday night hip-hop mix on JAMZ 93.1 FM from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. While they have to keep within station playlists for a certain percentage of the show, they mostly have the freedom to spin what they want.

Bayley, who has an undergraduate degree in secondary education, also teaches audio and multimedia production to high school students through UW-Madison's Information Technology Academy.

Now, he's working on getting established outside Madison as a producer. "I pretty much decided that I needed to either be a professional producer, or focus on something else. I gave myself a year deadline to see what happened," he said.

After months of networking -- face-to-face at concerts, via e-mail and on MySpace -- he recently got signed by Brendan Malette of Toronto-based Lavish Life Management.

With a manager out scouting for him, he was able to land a placement producing a track on Young Jeezy's latest album, "Recession," which reached gold status in the past month by selling almost 600,000 copies. He figures that if he got two deals like the one with Young Jeezy each year and worked a part-time job, he'd earn as much as a full-time teacher.

Much of the production work on "Recession" falls into what Bayley calls "the style of the moment" -- Southern hip-hop's predilection for minor chord progressions and dramatic orchestral arrangements. He's happy that the track he produced, "Don't Do It," is different and has its own style.

DJing and producing are essentially two very different sides to the same coin. As a producer for the Fall Guys, he composes all the music from scratch.

"There's this image of this person clicking the mouse around and all of a sudden, there's a song. Or, like, you just click a button that says 'Generate Rap Song,' and there's a rap song," he said. "Even sampling is more complicated than that. There's a lot of music theory that goes into it."

During the Fall Guys' performances, Bayley's role switches to that of a DJ -- holding and balancing communication in a triad with the MC and the crowd to pace songs.

For a dance party, DJing means leading a kinetic dialogue back and forth with the dance floor. That relationship becomes "an organism in and of itself," he said. A DJ has to prove himself quickly -- Bayley compares it to "a very fast first date." He starts out with safe choices, then quickly reveals more and more.

He decides how much to charge for DJing based mainly on the venue's capacity and whether it's a for-profit event or for a nonprofit community group. One time after DJing four hours at a poorly attended sorority party, as he collected his promised payment of $300, he overheard someone say with snark, "Oh, let me become a DJ and make $300 in a night!"

"And I'm thinking, yeah, okay, $300 a night is a good salary. But at the same time, the initial investment is anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000 and the time investment is, you know, years."

He sometimes feels pressure to fit into the mold of what an "average" 25-year-old should have: a 9 to 5 job, a house, car, marriage, maybe a kid.

"I have these existential moments, and my mom slaps it out of me," he said. "All the accomplishments that may be important to somebody else, if they're not important to me at this moment in my life, they shouldn't be something I should regret not having. I'm proud of what I've done so far."

(77 Square)

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