Besties: DJ Brian Maier
Our Bestie DJ is the adorable Brian Maier, who chatted after his photo shoot at the 440. His boyfriend Kyle Krebs hung out nearby, friends greeted him, and despite the fact that he doesn’t drink beer, he affably posed with a glassful.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Maier moved to San Francisco almost nine years ago. "I DJed at some of the underground clubs, but at that point I was still underage, so it was kind of tough to find the connections to do that sort of thing. But house parties, raves; I would find myself DJing at those until the wee hours of the morning."
The first local gig for the 28-year-old was with Brian Hughes at The Stud. "We had a really good turnout, and it encouraged me to see more nightlife opportunities here. I was still coming into my own as a DJ as far as my sound. I knew there were a lot of directions to take it."
Technologies have changed, and Maier has adapted to them.
"When I started, it was still all vinyl, back when DJs had to adjust sliders on Technics turntables, just so they could find the right hitch, so that when they did the mix, it wasn’t all jostled. Now, it’s so different," said Maier. "I recently taught someone DJ basics in a night. Because it’s all digital and you can use a controller, you can auto-synch everything, which takes some of the skill out of it."
He mentioned the Honey Soundsystem crew and DJ Bus Station among those who are either "vinyl purists" or those who mix technologies.
"Part of the fun and craft of DJing is storytelling, and you really can’t teach someone how to do that," said Maier. "It’s something you have to inherently know. I’ve felt fortunate that the mixes that I make take people on journeys."
Recently part of the four-man Rocket Collective (with Mat dos Santos, David Sternesky and Trevor Sigler), Maier and his colleagues have, since last year, each gone on to new gigs and sounds stemming from their nights playing at Burning Man, and many local and regional events.
"Because there were four of us, we would rotate through each night," said Maier. "One month I would open or close. We knew when peak hour was, but we would strategically pattern our sets to take people on journeys. You know that right around eleven o’clock, at least here in San Francisco, that’s when people will ’peak’ and want to pick up the tempo."
Maier mentioned their different connections within the community and how they’ve branched out. Maier’s recent gigs include parties in Vancouver’s Ruff, and in Seattle with Dickslap.
"In Portland, I DJed at Bridge Club, and SuperFun, which was great," he added. "It was a daytime outdoor event, so people were more open and positive."
As we discussed variations in gay dance events - bear events, circuit events and even circuit bears - Maier had to laugh and stop for a moment. He then decided to clarify his thoughts on what is known as ’circuit music.’
"I grew up with DJs Sasha, John Digweed, Sander Klienenberg, which not a lot of people know, but they are DJs who don’t have to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the audience," said Maier. "With some progressive house artists, it’s like there are sirens going off. I just need a good groove, some catchy lyrics and some good community. I really enjoy the circuit scene. But I find that the music I choose is not circuit music."
Tech House, Deep House, Techno and Indie Dance are his own descriptive phrases on his website. But perhaps such terms limit the fun, bouncy and warm, and sometimes sultry feeling of Maier’s mixes.
"I try to find tracks that people are familiar with, but I don’t try to make it so pop-centric that people feel like they just turned on the radio," he said. "If I throw on a Kylie Minogue track, it would have to be some odd dub track that takes the song a little further. So when people on the dance floor recognize it, you can see the dance floor light up. And that is part of the storytelling that’s fun."
With the online magazine "Mascular" (the project of the UK-based Vincent Keith), Maier has created sound mixes that correspond with each issue’s themes.
Mair explained: "Vincent needed a platform to bring his art into the world, but also realized that there are many other artists and photographers who wanted the same thing, and this collaboration would be a greater way to share their work. He contacted me, saying that he loved my work for a long time, and that he wanted sound to be a part of it.