“There I was with this rambunctious rapper, and I was like, ‘I really hope I don’t fuck up. I don’t want Busta Rhymes bitch-slapping me with his mike.’” One of downtown Vegas’ most familiar faces, the wise-yet-humble DJ of 17 years and avid vinyl collector, Aurajin, laughed about the time he DJ’d for Rhymes in a suite at the Palms.
The Griffin’s Saturday night resident has also been a fixture at the Get Back for seven years, dating back to when the monthly post-First Friday fete was just a house party. Vegas Seven recently caught up with Aurajin at his home to get a look at his vinyl collection (well into the four digits) and to discuss the high side of his downtown DJ life.
What are the origins of your DJ name?
“Origin” was taken, so I played with the spelling. You have Aura, a physical radiation, and Jin, which a friend told me means “body” in Japanese, so Aurajin was a match made in heaven.
But Aurajin is just one of your names. Word on the street is that you have multiple aliases.
My “government” name is Lemuel Roque Granada. Sebastian is my gay name; I picked that when I was modeling for Q Tribe. I was still in the closet, so I wrote Sebastian because I really liked it. The magazine got distributed, and my friends from high school saw it and that’s how I came out. Pokey is old-school; I got it in sixth grade as my [break] dancing name.
The Griffin and the Get Back are known for having strong indie support, but you also throw in underground hip-hop. How does it mesh?
I do it in my sets. Start out electro/indie, throw down hip-hop, then blend it with the funk; it correlates. The indie kids I know like hip-hop, too. Just ’cause they cut their hair asymmetrical and dance in skinny jeans doesn’t mean they don’t like it. They’re quite diverse. My crowd is universal; you can’t stick with just one genre.
Why do you prefer DJing downtown as opposed to on the Strip?
Right now the Strip is so plagued with meatheads and douchebags, it’s no kind of culture, and the mainstream crowd is regulated. I love the creative freedom I have downtown. The Get Back is my favorite because everybody’s there; it’s like a circus, all kinds of folks, from rockabilly to bumbaclot Jamaicans … all walks of life.
Have you had a residency on the Strip before?
Yeah … Me, 8-Bits and Standing 8 had a night at Beauty Bar; the vision was to take the local underground scene to the Strip. [So we started] Vinyl Wednesdays at Tao. It was old school hip-hop and purely vinyl. Once, one cat laid down $100 if we’d play [rapper] TI; we didn’t have it because we only had records and 45s! We lasted there for about seven months.
If you could only spin one type of music for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Trip-hop and downtempo; I produce those kinds of beats. It’s very soothing, makes you relax. It’s escapism for me. I dabble in every genre from electro to reggae to underground hip-hop to rock ’n’ roll.
You have to be open to exploring music and culture; it’s diverse, an amazing thing to do. That’s what keeps me running and going. There’s so much to be explored that needs to be put out there and that people need to be exposed to. My all-time favorites are Portishead, Zero 7 and Massive Attack, who I got to open for.
Massive Attack is one of your idols. Was that a DJ dream come true?
My friend Corlene Machine told me, and my jaw dropped on the phone! I was really nervous, and they treated me like royalty onstage. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m still goo-goo-ga-ga about opening for Massive Attack.” I wanted the time to go by slow so I could savor the memory.