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Quick, name your favorite Irish DJ.
Come on, we're waiting.
Okay, maybe you see our point. Even though it supports a flourishing underground scene, the Emerald Isle isn't known stateside as a dance music hot spot. Which is why we're just as surprised as you that this year's New Times/Village Voice Media Ultra DJ Contest winner, DJ Ed Whitty, hails from the small town of Carlow, Ireland. Part of a Dublin-based collective named Club Educate, Whitty has called Fort Lauderdale home for a year and a half. He is a true DJ's DJ, spinning records as his only source of income, a situation that has forced the house-head to reluctantly take on residencies at Top 40 hangouts in Lauderdale's lowbrow Himmarshee district.
"I'm trying to push more house into Capone's, but the kind of crowds that go in there, they're all kids and it's very hard to keep their attention with that kind of stuff," Whitty says of his Saturday-night residency. "You gotta build up a lot of energy before the crowd will accept it. If I just break into it, they don't even react at all, but if you get 'em all hyped up and put it in then, they'll go in for it for maybe four tracks, and then people just start leaving."
Fortunately Whitty came to America with plenty of experience and a long-term outlook on his career.
"I have all the patience in the world, so I'd rather be doing this than working at McDonald's," he says with a quick-tongue brogue. "I love music at the end of the day, and obviously I enjoy playing it, but I just prefer playing house. It's just a matter of waiting for those doors to open."
Whitty has been knocking pretty loudly since he began DJing seven years ago. His voraciously upbeat sound tilts funky, organic drums against raring machine beats and digital melodies, slipping in the occasional vocal or guitar sample or a kicking remix of the Killers or LCD Soundsystem. He has played almost every club in Ireland and rocked a float in San Francisco's Love Parade as part of Corvin Dalek's wet 'n' hard crew. The winning mix he submitted to New Times blew wide-open at the halfway mark with outrageous, big-beat pyrotechnics a stunning crescendo that made Whitty the runaway favorite.
"It's a track by Coburn, called 'We Interrupt This Program,'" he says. "It's wicked, a style unto itself, I think. It can come across to people as nasty, or it can come across as really high energy."
That statement basically sums up Whitty's style nasty and really high-energy which he'll take to Ultra to rep both Ireland and South Florida.
"I like being here because the diversity is unbelievable, the cultural differences. Even the negative things are positive," he says of his subtropical surroundings. "It's something I would never experience back home." Just like most of us wouldn't experience an Irish DJ in Fort Lauderdale. God bless America, Irish eyes are smiling.