“I love being a father of a five-year-old and I love being a DJ, so can I be a father-slash-DJ?”
DJ Harry Hotter’s first answer during a recent interview with On Tap should give readers an idea of the good-natured sense of humor held by this long-time DC area-based disc jockey. Born Harry Dixon, he’s an area native. He’s also a Howard University graduate, former Second Story Books employee and currently, a full-time DJ. With a pair of turntables, he’s achieved professional success by turning any “open-format [i.e., “multi-genre”] set into a journey that weaves 90s and 2000s hip-hop flavored pop, house, dancehall and even rock into a seamless stream of sonic excitement. Hotter’s story of how he started his career, like many of his tales, are left-of-center, but still strike right at the heart of his dedication to his craft.
“[Local veteran DJ] Analyze and I decided that we wanted to be DJs at the same time,” he says. “He stole his parents’ turntable from their stereo, and I would bring my own turntable along. And one year, he got a mixer for Christmas. Then we both started buying records together to share our collections.”
As the years passed, Hotter’s talent became apparent, and it was a chance meeting while he was a doorman at Dupont Circle’s Gazuza nightclub that propelled him to both mega-club and local renown.
“I was DJing rave and hip-hop parties while I was in college, and DJ Dirty Hands needed a DJ to play with him at [then NE DC-based club] Dream. So, I took the night off from doing the door, and played disco breaks and classic rap records. Marc Barnes [Dream’s owner] liked me, and everything else came from there.”
Of late, Hotter’s schedule has been a bit more open-ended, as he’s sampling a broader taste of the diverse and progressive vibe of DC nightlife at present. He’s finding significant inspiration behind the decks at Velvet Lounge, a small dive bar tucked deep in the U Street Corridor.
“These early-20s kids want to hear a little bit of everything,” he says.
Also, he speaks highly of his DJ sets at a party called “The Feel Good” at [Golden Triangle’s] Rosebar, where he notes people “love everything from Missy Elliott’s ‘Work It’ to more experimental stuff and timeless soul classics like Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’”
Regarding the how and why of his musical process, Hotter opines, “I’m a raver, hip-hop kid and a punk rocker who used to see music like peas, mashed potatoes and carrots on a plate.”
Explaining himself, he continues, “I never let genres touch. Now, I like to imagine what can go with what, and keep my selections super interesting. From corporate gigs to weddings to nightclubs, it’s all about playing the right song at the right time to keep everyone dancing.”
Follow Harry Hotter on Twitter @hotterthisyear.
Photo: Courtesy of Harry Dixon