Cultural exchanges

Spank Rock’s Chris Rockswell and Brazil’s DJ Dolores
By DAVID DAY  |  July 3, 2007

VIDEO: Devlin, Darko, and Diplo take on Australia

DJ Dolores & Isaar "De Dar Dó (remix)" (mp3)
CHRIS ROCKSWELL, the official DJ for the club-rap phenom SPANK ROCK, says people are always asking him, “What does your neighborhood sound like?” His answer: “Reggaetón! Boom-ba-boom clap!” Rockswell (a/k/a Chris Devlin) moved to Boston from Baltimore last year, and he can be talking about only one place:  Jamaica Plain. “The neighborhood is great, man. It’s different from where I lived in Baltimore. There’s a huge immigrant population, which is cool. And great food, and everyone is really friendly.” It’s no small thing that a piece of Spank Rock resides in Basstown. The big buzz generated by their 2006 album YoYoYoYoYo (Big Dada) has the group, whose members include rapper Naeem Juwan and producer XXXChange (a/k/a Alex Newton), poised for a breakthrough. Recent news had them hooking up with Downtown Records, home to Gnarls Barkley. “Dude, all I know is that!” says Chris, stopping himself. “You can read about it on the Internet. There are some tracks out there that Alex and Naaem have worked on, and Naaem has been working with a couple of other guys.”

Chris has started to branch out with his own remixes of NYC’s Kudu and Scottie B. He recently toured as a DJ team with another Spank Rock member, Ronnie Darko. “I definitely play more outside Boston than I play here. I get offers all the time, and it’s like, ‘Oh, I’m on the road that day’ — which is kind of lame, because I want to play here more now that I am living here.” He’s been able to hook up with 18-plus promoter E-MARCE to form the Throwed party, but he also wants to continue producing — he has singles coming out from Seattle’s Pretty Titty, a DJ mix for MP3 superblog, and music with MC Baltimore Chip including a track called “Race Riot on the Dancefloor” and a re-edit of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.” “It’s nice to sell some DJ mixes, but it’s pretty hard to sell copies until you’re touring,” Chris says before heading out to Great Scott to spin between bands. “Unless you’re Justin Timberlake, a lot of your money is coming from licensing and touring.”

Not all DJs just spin records — often they’re called on to lead the party and sit in with a live act. This Wednesday in the Museum of Fine Arts’ Calderwood Courtyard, Brazil’s DJ Dolores will be doing just that. “It’s hard to integrate a DJ with a band and not have it be cheesy,” says DAN HIRSCH, the MFA’s concert-program manager. “But Dolores is almost a conductor in the way he approaches it. He’s definitely in the driver’s seat. There are skeletons for songs, but there’s a lot of spontaneity and a lot of shift in direction. Like any good DJ, he’s feeling what people want and watching what the crowd responds to, and the band follows where he leads.” And Hirsch suggests that the Calderwood Courtyard, a vine-laden outdoor venue, is perfect for Dolores. “There’s a bar out there, people can bring their own food, and the café is open as well. When people start dancing, people really get loose.”

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