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Phoenix DJs Propagate Intelligent Jams

Published: Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 31, 2012 16:08

Last fall, a team of Phoenix DJs toured a string of nightlife events, called Circuit, with the purpose to keep underground dance music alive in the hearts of the masses. Over the last year, Circuit has traveled all across Arizona and parts of the southwestern US.

Circuit was founded by local DJs Steven Chung, aka Juheun, Michelle Sparks, aka Ms. Sparks, Dan Lunsford and Rolando Hodar. It began with a common goal, Chung said. With the sudden rise of electronic music, these DJ wanted to continue the exposure of different music to people and keep the “intelligent” side of EDM going strong.

“While we are happy that electronic music has gained so many new followers in the past couple years and is steadily gaining popularity everywhere, we want to bring a more global sound to Arizona and turn people on to music that they've possibly never heard before,” Sparks said.

It’s a concept that fellow Circuit DJ Lunsford agrees with.

“We wanted an outlet to play the music that we love and are so passionate about,” he said.  

“It allows us to create something that is completely original out here and preserves the underground sound at the same time,” Hodar adds. “Circuit is proud to represent our unique sound and the experience we have to offer to old and new listeners alike.”

This group of DJs isn’t trying to bash the commercial side of EDM. They would rather push the “intelligent” side of it. So what they aim to do is expose the listener to something different from what they're hearing everywhere else.

“‘Intelligent’ dance music involves a lot more experimental sounds than other electronic music genres, and uses many elements from the underground roots of dance music,” Sparks said. “But don't let that deceive you. The beats are still just as danceable.”

The Circuit crew has invested a lot of heart into these events, putting together sets that will resonate with their audiences.

“I love the reaction I get when I play a record that nobody in the crowd has ever heard before and everyone is feeling it,” Lunsford said. “I heard John Digweed once say ‘anybody can play a hit record and get a reaction,’ which is so true.”

What the Circuit crew has going for it is something unique to Arizona because no one else is currently pushing this kind of sound with such rigor.

“Everything in this area is really commercialized with mainstream EDM right now,” Hodar said. “Circuit differs because our sound is way more deep, groovy and technical.”

Chung, who is more popularly known as DJ Tranzit, performs under his Juheun alter-ego to distinguish the work he does under the Tranzit moniker, said the group strives to keep these events rotating from venue to venue and city to city in order to give people a new environment each time they came out.

The four DJs come together once a month to play a Circuit event and often bring guest DJs from the local scene or out-of-state. Most recently, they hosted one at Playground down in Tucson with Denver’s Danny Marin. And though the DJs work as a group, they also represent the movement individually, playing solo gigs in Austin, Texas, and Denver.

Circuit events aren’t your run-of-the-mill EDM shows either. They break the mold musically and according to Lunsford, the scene isn’t the typical one you see at a nightclub.

“At our Circuit shows, there’s not gonna be glow sticks and people poppin’ bottles and fist pumping all night,” Lunsford said. “The people that come to our shows are there for one reason: the music.”

The next major Circuit event will take place on October 27 at the 911 Halloween Massive, a yearly major underground electronic music concert. Until then, fans can stay in the know by visiting the group’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/CircuitAZ.

“I could go on and on about how the EDM scene has gone mainstream, and how what people are listening to on the radio isn’t EDM,” Chung said. “But to be honest, we’re not really looking to change the scene in any way. We’re just a group of like minded individuals who all share a common interest of techno.”

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