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Brian Hunker likes to keep it simple on the decks. "I take a decidedly un-creative approach. No fancy beat-matching. No mashups. No special effects," he says. "I just select one song I really like and let it play. When that song ends, I play another one. That's it. I like to think that the songs I select for a set don't need to be messed with, least of all by me. Great records speak for themselves."
That's shockingly unorthodox in the age of Serato, but it works. And you'll hear Hunker's MO in action this Saturday night if you hit Hollywood for the gala opening of Pinkghost's new headquarters. Like the designer toy store and mini-gallery, Hunker's heady mix of high color and whimsy is more about chosen components and their presentation than anything he's actually created himself. Not that either Paola Pinkghost (proprietress of the eponymous venue) or Hunker aren't creative. It's just that in this case, their creativity is purely curatorial.
And for that reason, Hunker is more of an "un-DJ." Sure, everyone who touches a turntable has to choose his or her tracks, but Hunker does so without any of the DJ's usual obligations. In other words, he's not bound to fuck with the sound — he stays out of it. And that makes him terrifically in.
The Miramar native started out playing classic punk rock on the University of Miami's WVUM-FM, hosting a show called The Usual Suspects during his first years studying for an audio engineering degree. And there's still a decidedly college-radio, fan-boy-style aspect to his spinning, as if you were hearing the thrill a kid feels when he brings home a new indie seven-inch. To put it simply, Hunker builds a home where both the roar of Flipper and the tinkle of Exotica are in absolute harmony, and everyone is invited to move in and sing along.
It's an approach that served Hunker well when he guest-spotted at Revolver back in its nights as a weekly party and at Poplife before it took over our world. And it worked just as wonderfully throughout 2008 at the Poorhouse in Fort Lauderdale, when a Radioactive Records-promoted night called the Adapter became the place to indie-rock out. But of all the many showings Hunker can boast about, it is spinning the Polish American Club for Poplife's K Records showcase that he considers the true highlight of his DJ career.
The fact that Hunker is a DJ who believes it's all about a song can also be heard in his guitar work, first with the now-defunct band Skyscraper, and now with a threesome called Matilda Nights. And though the music on his MySpace page (myspace.com/lexusofpembrokepines) reportedly is "influenced by Nyquil, serotonin, dreams, and sleep generally" and sounds like "boring shit," Hunker's aural devotion is unequivocal.
This Saturday night at Pinkghost, you shall hear it shimmer, and Hunker promises a vast spectrum of sounds. The set, he says, might begin with Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" and end with the Talking Heads' "Crosseyed and Painless." In between there will be classics you've heard (Iggy Pop's "Nightclubbing") and should have heard (the Records' "Starry Eyes"), currents you've heard of (Ariel Pink's "Every Night I Die at Miyagi's") and haven't (Suburban Kids with Biblical Names' "Rent a Wreck"). And then there will be offerings so heavenly pop-ful they'll make even the most adamant atheist praise Zeus (Stereolab's "Motoroller Scalatron" and Belle and Sebastian's "Dirty Dream #2").
Remember, it's all about that part of music almost forgotten on the dance floor: the song. And if it takes an un-DJ to get out of the way to remind us, well, hey, at least it'll take. And who knows? It just might take your breath away.
Brian Hunker's top five songs to sweat to:
1. "Dying for It," the Vaselines
2. "Silently," Blonde Redhead
3. "+81," Deerhoof
4. "Atlas," Battles
5. "Goofy's Concern," Butthole Surfers