If you’ve ever heard a set by local DJ Pedro Le Bass, you’ve noticed his name is appropriate: There’s a lot of bass involved in his sound.
The fierce but friendly DJ is a transplant from Seattle and has been part of the local music scene for a while now. You can catch him in action Tuesday nights at the Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club.
Pedro Le Bass recently discussed his moniker.
“Pedro is my real first name. Le Bass—well, I like bass music, and house. Anything with bass in it catches my ear, as long as you can dance to it,” he said. “I used to go by DJ Pac Man, but I had to give that up, because I wanted to do something different.”
Pedro said he was inspired to take up DJing after watching a video. “I was at my friend’s house in high school, and he played a Thud Rumble VHS tape. It was DJ Qbert, Mixmaster Mike and D-Styles. … I was like, ‘This is crazy, what these people are doing.’ I saw Skratch Bastid do ‘The Imperial March’ from Star Wars, but he flips this orchestra beat into the ‘Imperial March’ as a scribble jam, and that just blew my mind. After seeing that, I wanted to learn how to DJ.”
He bought some turntables off of a high school friend.
“I used to have these crazy parties at my house, because my sister played on the traveling softball and volleyball team,” he said. “The turntables ended up getting stolen at a house party a year later, out of my own house. The cops showed up, and everyone split, and they handcuffed me and threw me in the back of the car. I wasn’t in my house for a little bit, so I didn’t have turntables for a while, until 2000, when I moved here in the desert.”
Pedro said he always had one goal in mind as a DJ—having fun.
“I didn’t know what I was doing at all,” he said of his DJ beginnings. “A friend of mine was more of a battle DJ, and I actually wanted to learn how to blend. I wish I had recorded something when I first started, because it had to have sounded atrocious. But it was fun, the whole spirit of it. I would have the parties just so people could dance. That was the main thing: I wanted to make people dance and have a good time.”
After improving his skill set after moving to the desert, Pedro found himself with his first regular gig.
“My first residency was in 2001, behind where Bananaz used to be at a place called The Old Prospector,” he said. “I remember I used to open up for Mark Lewis, and he would come out once a week to play there. That was really crazy. I had that Eminem moment in the bathroom, because I was freaking out: I had never played something like that before, that was more official, on a legit sound system and at a real venue on a weekly basis.”
Pedro said he’s learned everything he knows about DJing by being a hands-on learner.
“I’ve learned mostly through being in the trenches with my friends and DJing at parties, bars and clubs,” he said. “That’s where the real schooling comes in. No amount of practice will ever prepare you for that feeling of when there’s people in front of you. That’s when things appear, and people can start choking.”
One skill every DJ needs to know is “beatmatching”—in other words, matching the tempo from song to song. He said he gets what he calls an “ear boner” when it’s done right.
“Remember when you were a little kid, and you got what you wanted for Christmas? It’s like that every two to three minutes when you throw another song on,” he said. “It’s great because you’re creating something out of two pieces of music. It’s not yours, but you’re manipulating it and making people dance, or whatever they’re into.”
Pedro said that no track is off limits as far as he’s concerned. He offered up Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” as an example of an off-the-wall track he’s played.
“If it makes you want to dance, I’ll play it,” he said. “I enjoy house music, because you can pull from the ’80s all the way to country music, funk, soul and hip-hop. It’s such a wide thing, and that’s what I love about open format. There’s nothing off limits. It might be off limits because you’re scared to try it—but people might dig it and freak out.”
Pedro hopes more venues for DJs open in the Coachella Valley—and that locals become more supportive.
“What I would like to see is larger venues popping up and hiring local talent,” he said. “There is local talent here. I’d like to see more local support, and this being a touristy town, if we can get some of the locals in these places to get heard, it’s going to put the Coachella Valley on the map. There are people here with crazy talent, but there’s just no real venue for them to express themselves or showcase that talent for people.”
For more information, visit www.pedrolebass.com.