Measure of a Man

San Francisco’s DJ Worthy has your ticket for a musical journey

No rookie to electronic music, DJ Worthy fell in love with the deep bass sound in the ’90s during the early rave scene while growing up in Washington, D.C. Absorbed in the East Coast music culture, he went from playing drums, bass and guitar in punk-rock bands to become a DJ of genres ranging from hip-hop to techno before finally finding a home in deep house. Now happily settled as a member of San Francisco’s Dirty Bird label, the groove-giving producer makes his Las Vegas debut at the Revolution Lounge in The Mirage on Jan. 21.

You and the Dirty Bird crew are the most well-known group of DJs and label out of San Francisco. What’s the story behind the group?

I went to college with [DJ] Justin Martin in New York City and met freshman year. He moved out to San Francisco and told me how the music and the scene was so much better and that I needed to get out there. We decided to start up Dirty Bird as a party, and it took off from there. It’s bigger than any of us thought it would be.

Those first famed Sunday daytime parties in Golden Gate Park really got you guys noticed.

Yeah, those were great because it was a lot of people that can’t come to the parties we used to throw because they have families and jobs. So it’s cool because people can come listen to electronic music with their families, bring their dogs; we have a barbecue where we would do tons of carne asada and had as many people as we could cook and eat, and it’s just a good family vibe. It’s outdoor, so everyone can come. And music outside is just so much better.

Wow! You don’t normally hear the words “family” and “electronic music” in the same sentence!

Yeah, well, we’re all growing up and our friends are grown up so it’s like all our old friends with their kids running around and dancing to the music. It’s fun to watch.

You mentioned that many DJs who come to San Francisco always say it’s their favorite place to spin. What’s so great about the scene there?

I think people in San Francisco just like to get down! They dance and they have a little more of an open mind and they go out to hear music. When a DJ comes over I think that they feel like they really take a crowd someplace different. I think it’s because of that open-mindedness and people take the music to a broader realm. You can play some weird, twisted tracks and people will still be into it.

So what is the San Francisco sound, and what can we expect to hear when you play Las Vegas?

My sound is somewhere between bass-heavy but kind of rooty tech-house, kind of ghetto-funk-inspired but all works with a groove. I really play some crazy sounds then some deep house in my sets. I like to play anything that just makes me want to groove. I feel like whatever will make me groove should hopefully make the crowd want to groove.

What do you think of huge DJs who become big deals and then go mainstream?

In the end I think it’s good that electronic music is actually taking off in the States. It’s been so developed for so long that it’s crazy it’s taken so long to come to the States, even though it was developed first in Chicago, then went to Europe to find itself, and now 20 years later it comes back over here and America’s finally accepting it. It was accepted everywhere but the States. People are finally digesting it, and I think people will finally want to dig deeper than the Hype Machine or whatever the mainstream music is. There’s so much deeper in the music.

It sounds like you’re not into the whole pop-house movement. Is there anything you absolutely will not play?

Probably anything Tiësto, just mainstream tracks. Like a Deadmau5 track—you would never find that in my bag.