Ray Riddle is known in the Nashville music scene as Orig the DJ. Every time I talk to him, he’s always giving me advice or telling me stories. He is always trying to give encouragement or teach anyone who is willing to listen. I personally have benefited from numerous conversations. I thought it’d only be right to have an interview with him on this blog. However and thankfully, he gave me so much information in the interview that I’m going to have to split it up into 3 or 4 parts. Here’s the first section of the interview where he discussed his origins in the Nashville music scene and the origins of the MASHVILLE dance party.
QE: What were you saying before about DJing versus having a day job?
Orig: Several years ago, I did that. I quit my job. I had went to SAE; graduated in 2006 and also going to work. That was interfering with my grades. So I quit my job to focus on school. Once I got out of school, I decided that instead of going and getting a day job; I pursued the music industry because I just got out of school for it. So I just did interviews with a lot of studios in the music row area; I just put out an email to all the studios and I got a reply back from four. They brought me in, and pretty much every single manager that I interviewed with told me “Look we can’t hire anybody; we can’t even have interns right now” Around that time big studios started falling and it came down to 4 major studios in the industry. Now it’s all private studios and personal home studios. Everyone’s able to do that now. I had bad timing with that.
Orig: So anyway, It was tough. I pursued music and it was tough. I wasn’t getting the gigs I was getting when I had a day job. I was saying yes to certain gigs that I’d rather not do but it’s money. I learned after about 5 months of doing that, that I had to get a job. I wasn’t making any money and I was making poor decisions because I wasn’t educated enough. Even though I just got out of school, I wasn’t educated in life. I ended up getting two jobs and kind of pushed all the music to the side. I would wake up at 7 in the morning and I wouldn’t get to bed until midnight and I’d be at work the whole time. Monday through Friday. Things started picking back up. Since I had the weekends, MASHVILLE started happening in 07. Prior to MASHVILLE starting, I was DJ-in at a bar, doing karaoke DJing, play list DJing. I wasn’t brining my turntables, I was just more of a personality and playing whatever music the bar had. But it was a little bit of money. I was able to quit my second job and just continue doing that. So when that stopped, I was just working my day job. I had a few other projects with other DJs like MASHVILLE…
QE: Can you tell me how MASHVILLE got started?
Orig: Shortly prior to MASHVILLE, I was doing Double D Tuesdays with Rob Hinnenthal (DJ Hashbrown) in Murfreesboro. At the same time, Brad Knight (DJ Local Motion) and I were talking; and we were griping about we’re not getting the kinds of gigs that we see these other DJs are getting. So why don’t we start our own night. SO we were tossing ideas back and forth on the phone. And then our friend Daniel (Dirty D) he decided to jump in on it. So the 3 of us collaborated on ideas. He helped us get it going. Daniel got us The End. He rented the End. I saved up some money for a photographer because I figured we needed to get this documented and try to bring to the table some of the ideas that Brad’s being seeing in Atlanta with his friend Caleb. They were doing Sloppy Seconds in Atlanta; and it was a night where DJs were the showcase and it was dancing and good times plus a photographer. I had known Wick-it and Kidsmeal already; so we invited them to jump on board as DJs. At that very same time, Wick-it was working on mixtape called Music City Mashville. Parallel to that, Brad and I were trying to come up with a name for the night; and Brad came up with the name “MASHVILLE” because we were wanting to do mashups. But then, he found that Wick-it had already came up with the mixtape Music City Mashville. So at the very same time, without us knowing that we were coming up with the same name; that’s how it came up with the idea of MASHVILLE and we would just have Wick-it as a headliner since he had a mixtape. So, it just made sense. So we gave it a shot. We had the first one; it went really well. Did you go out to that?
QE: Yeah I was there. I actually went every month for the first year straight.
Orig: Yeah, The first one was awesome. The second one wasn’t all that great. The third one… Well, it was costing us money. Eventually Daniel didn’t want to spend that much money. He threw the towel in and said, “I don’t know what y’all want to do but I don’t want to waste that much money on it.” So Brad and I just kept it going. I put up a sum of money on it. We would just take a portion of the money we made. We didn’t make much from the door. We’d keep a little bit but we’d pay the DJs and then we’d pay ourselves. But we’d still have to come out of pocket. I had the idea of letting the other DJs know that we need to build this, if you could just help volunteer your time and talent. we can take the money that we make and put it back in to it. That way we wouldn’t have to come out of pocket. Because, yeah you’re getting paid but I’m coming out of pocket and then I’d be the next Daniel in line. And it would stop working. So that’s how it started. we kept funding it out of our own budget. Eventually, it kept going and picking up. We started averaging a hundred people. the next year, Brad was leading it at that time, and I was helping him. Just making sure that everything was running smoothly, contacting everybody and making sure everybody was on for the night. Keeping up with lineups and everything. Brad eventually had to focus on his own carpet cleaning business so he couldn’t focus on Mashville. So it was Brad, Me, Wick-It and Kidsmeal. Whenever Brad decided to not lead it, I picked up the baton and started leading it. Wick-it had invited Mike Vulcan to DJ. And he did such a great set…
QE: Yeah I remember a lot of us saw him at a July 4th party and he ended up playing the very next MASHVILLE…
Orig: Right, Wick-It saw that and was really impressed. He invited him to come on board just as a guest. And then after his set, Wick-It had suggested why don’t we throw him on as a resident DJ because he’s brining something different that’s going to help balance us. And he was a perfect fit. Bateman came along shortly after that as a graphic designer. (QE note: Read my interview with Bateman!) We were designing our own flyers; we were hiring other designers. Bateman offered his talent and services just to be a part of the crew. Eventually, he took the bull by the horns. He started managing it. It kind of shifted. He had a lot to offer. a lot of enthusiasm; a lot more resources. He wanted to do it, and we let him do it. He eventually started DJing. He was opening. He wasn’t quite a DJ, he was an MC. He’s a very talented fellow. He shortly became a resident DJ. What else? I know in 09, Christ Mironescu of Everything’s Nice sat down with us at a meeting and offered to help us out. He helped us get the Limelight for the first quarter of the year. It was fun and different but it didn’t quite work out; it was just too big for our scene.
QE: I played the last one y’all did there.
Orig: Oh yeah, that’s right! So you know eventually we went back to The End. In 09 was when, we started testing other venues. We did Limelight and we did Mercy Lounge. Mercy Lounge was awesome. We were blessed with the opportunity to do it there. We thought we did really well but as a local act we didn’t do well enough to get a monthly lockdown. Because they have to reserve themselves for something big just in case something big comes their way. It was really fortunate for us; I appreciate Drew from Mercy Lounge for being real with us on that because if we had gotten a monthly there, we probably would have gotten rescheduled on a date because some big name could have come in or something like that. We decided to go back to The End. Bruce at the End really believed in us. There were nights when after a year or two of doing it there that we didn’t have a great night and we’d have to come out of pocket. But he’d say “Hey don’t worry about. I know next month is going to be better. I think this weekend there was something going on across the street or something.” He’s been like an uncle to us. He’s helped us out; I really appreciate him for that. So we went back there and we had our anniversary shows at Mercy Lounge. Then we started testing other performances, we got you in. At the time, you weren’t a DJ really, you were doing your performance. (QE note: read the difference between live PA sets and DJ sets) So we had that, we had some MCs. Things were going pretty well with that. The Billy Goats did their CD release. Sam and Tre did their CD release there.
QE: I know you had the Hood Internet.
Orig: Yeah! We brought in The Hood Internet. And that was probably the first actual headliner that we’d brought in from out of town. They’re from Chicago.
QE: What would you say your role in MASHVILLE is now?
Orig: Now, I’m the leader of the pack again. The beginning of this year, I started doing other projects with Big Smo; he’s a rapper in the country hick-hop scene. He’s really leading it. I was really blessed to go on gigs out of town but that left me out of the picture with MASHVILLE. And I wasn’t really around MASHVILLE. I felt kind of bad, I thought I was fading away from it. So, I was just budgeting my time and make it happen to where I get back involved with MASHVILLE. It shifted with everybody. Wick-it started getting really busy doing gigs. He’s got a booking agency and a management company. Doing really well. So I was able to come back and just make it happen for myself schedule wise where I could fit in. Bateman moved to Atlanta recently. So it just shifted just right for me to jump back in and carry it on. So for the past couple of MASHVILLE’s. Maybe for about 3 months. I’ve been kind of leading. I’ve been getting emails and Facebook messages from other fellow DJs. saying stuff like “Hey, I hollered at Wick-It and he told me to holler at you because he said you’re the one that’s in charge of producing the night and the lineup” and even though Bateman is Atlanta, he’s still doing the best he can. But he’s got a lot going on for himself as well. So, it was appropriate for me to come back at the time that I came back. So I’m back leading it. I felt really good about it. I talked to Bateman; I asked him what can I do to help and he told me it was booking. Calling DJs, booking, getting fresh acts, fresh faces. Even though I don’t have a list of DJs, I’m going to make one. I think it’s good to have one fresh face a month. There are only so many spots to fill. I don’t want ten DJs to play in a night. It’s too confusing for the sound guy, just for everyone. I think MASHVILLE has survived because of it’s relaxed production. There’s always been one guy that’s kind of leading it but everybody helps. Wick-it’s not just a DJ there. He’s the reason we got the Mercy Lounge. Kidsmeal’s brought along a lot of people. DJ Dirk who opened the past Mashville. That was probably one of the best opening nights ever. We actually had been trying to get him on MASHVILLE for 3 years.
Orig: Anyway, Brad had a lot of awesome ideas. Like I was saying; from the Sloppy Seconds nights in Atlanta. This guy Caleb. Caleb was managing DJ Klever at the time. So DJ Klever and a lot of other local DJs in Atlanta. I never went to it so I don’t really know. But from what I knew, that was a night that we were looking up to and that we were basing our Mashville idea off of. So a cool thing, Just how life happens. I mentioned Bateman moving to Atlanta. I spoke to Bateman after a month of him living in Atlanta. We had a chat and he was telling me there’s this club and he got in good with the manager. He said that there’s a possibility maybe in the future that we could get a MASHVILLE down there. Just so happens that it’s the same spot that Sloppy Seconds was doing their thing. So it’s almost coming full circle. It’s really cool!
QE: Yeah man!
This is only the Part 1 of the 3 part interview series with Orig the DJ. Be sure to sign up to receive blog updates in your email so that you don’t miss the rest of the interview!