DJ Tom LG combines the past and the present
The annual Burning Man festival is a unique fusion of the ancient and futuristic, the human and the digital. The very nature of its Nevada desert location, which puts its participants face-to-face with many of the same basic survival issues with which our primitive ancestors grappled, ensures a somewhat archaic feel, yet the tribal festivities are enlivened by electronic music and state-of-the-art technology.
In short, it’s probably the only place in the world where you might see a robot cruising past a cluster of naked people dancing around a fire.
One would be hard-pressed to find a better DJ for a Burning Man after-party than Tom LG, whose musical tastes epitomize this synthesis of the archaic and modern. “Part of the electronic music scene is to be continually moving forward: Don’t look back; that record was played yesterday, therefore, it’s obsolete,” offers LG, who will be spinning records at this Wednesday’s post-Burning Man party at Moe’s Alley along with DJ Seek, Little John and Rob Monroy. In contrast to that, he notes, “I think the essence of what I’m about is this old and this new, this past and present. I ride this line back and forth, and when the two come together is when I think I’ve created the best experience for people.”
The 39-year-old DJ adds that the electronic music that he finds most intriguing has a strong tribal element: “hands on drums; objects that are very, very old instruments.”
After getting his start as a DJ in April of 1993, LG, a Santa Cruz resident since 1974, primarily played electronic music for a number of years until he started working at Logos Books & Records as a record buyer, at which point he developed a strong interest in music from the ’20s through the ’60s. He claims that at present, his repertoire is divided right down the middle between modern electronica and very old music from the last century. Some of his all-time favorite songs from the latter category are “Summertime,” “St. James Infirmary Blues” and “Caravan.” “They’re so beautiful that you want to cry, yet there’s sort of a spooky element to it as well,” he notes. “A lot of that has to do with the crackle and pop of the record. It’s a dreamlike experience, really; something that you might hear in a dream.”
LG plays vinyl exclusively. “I like being able to tell that this is an object that’s being played—it’s not a file, a digital number floating through the cosmos, through Internet or through your computer,” he explains. “Once you put a record onto a platter, and you put that needle on, you can hear the surface noise; you can tell something’s about to happen.”
LG, who spins vintage 45s each Sunday night at the Red Room and each Monday night at 515 Kitchen & Cocktails, began DJing under unusual circumstances: In 1993, he attended a rave in Watsonville where gang members shot six people, killing one of them. “Later that night, after everyone was just trying to figure out what we all just experienced, I decided to put on some ambient records to help settle people down,” he recalls. “From about that moment on is when I put 100 percent of my time and energy into [DJing].” LG states that he still uses music as an emotional stabilizer: “There’s not a moment when I’m not conscious that, ‘OK, is this song working? Is this the mood that I want people to feel right now?’”
Sounds like just the man to help ease road-frazzled Burners back into civilian life.
DJ Tom LG, DJ Seek, Little John and Rob Monroy spin at 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 9, at Moe’s Alley, 1535 Commercial Way, Santa Cruz. Tickets are $5 in advance or $7 at the door. For more information, call 479-1854.