Just before the holiday season finished, we brought you an amazing seasonal party mix, thanks to the DJ talents of DJ Agent Meow. Now we have a little more about the man behind the tunes. And – you guessed it – another mix, this time for the game day of your dreams.
This is the interview that we always meant to bring you, but as it turns out, people get busy towards the end of the year. Who knew?
And although I certainly worked on some leading questions, most of this is better left in the words of the man himself, because he tells it so well.
The man has played in derby location after location, including some particularly impromptu smash hits, such as when: “Atomatrix was kind enough to let me play some tunes at her Riviera Cabana party during RollerCon 2014, an event that will be immortalized by the ludicrous Turn Down For Why Can’t We Be Friends beachball fight.
“Once, I believe in 2012, I drove up with the staff of the Rose City Rosebuds Jr. All-Star team to Everett, WA with the intention of cheering on the skaters during the tournament as a fan in the stands. Apparently, K. Beezy from Rat City walked up to the event coordinator and said ‘Uh, so we brought our DJ…’ 10 minutes after I arrived, I was plugging my little portable DJ mixer into the sound system for a 7 hour set.”
The first thing that really struck me was a combination of obvious passion that Agent Meow has for the sport of roller derby, and his complete lack of self-aggrandizement (something DJs more generally aren’t often known for). In fact, when asked about his DJ talents meeting the derby world, we got this reply:
“Let me say this: I feel strongly that I brought absolutely no DJ talent to derby- just a love of music to match my love of the game. I arrived as a fan, spent two years learning what I could about the sport, thinking of ways to support my league.
“When I was first offered a gig DJing at a derby event, I had not spun music for years and was absolutely not a DJ. Everything I am and every tune I play was built by roller derby. I’m here because I would be here anyway as a rabid fan or even as an NSO if I knew how to do math or use a stopwatch.
“Derby doesn’t need ‘DJ talent’, derby needs a soundtrack.”
I don’t want derby audiences to think of my ‘DJ talents’, I want them to think ‘holy shit, what a rad sport… and that music made it even more intense!’ I know if you asked Mister Sister or Kasey Bomber or anyone else who orchestrates amazing soundtracks for the game, they’d feel the same way. Derby doesn’t need ‘DJ talent’, derby needs a soundtrack.”
“Blurred Lines. Here’s the spoiler: I played it. Erasing Robin Thicke from my iTunes directory was a moment of pure satisfaction.It’s been quite the learning curve, too. In the ups and downs of roller derby, even the DJs have some themselves. Agent Meow told us about his least favorite track to play for roller derby, and what it meant for him as a lesson:
“Are you a derby DJ or considering DJing for roller derby? Here’s a piece of advice. You’re not spinning to a dance floor, but an entire culture. When your skaters approach you with concerns regarding music performed by artists that trivialize or damage the safety, equality, and empowerment of women… don’t just respect their wishes, actively research the issue to understand why you must be more thoughtful. I did, and now I feel that I am”.
His most memorable roller derby DJ moment is quite the narrative of suspense and triumph:
“It was the Rose City Rollers Season 7 Championships, a full-on bloodbath between Rose City home teams the Breakneck Betties and the High Rollers at Memorial Coliseum in Portland. Multiple skaters and one of the coaches for the Betties had already fouled out or been asked to leave. The atmosphere was just about as tense as a sporting event can get. Wheels of Justice jammers Sully Skullkicker and Soulfearic Acid were facing off in a dead heat for their respective home teams, 14 seconds left on the period clock, tied at 110-110.
“You’re not spinning to a dance floor, but an entire culture”.
“As the whistle blew, I cued Flynn Lives, Track 20 from Daft Punk’s exceptional Tron: Legacy soundtrack, and played it from 1:20. Last jam tracks are a huge risk for me as I do my best to calculate tactically what could happen and how best to match an epic song to that moment. My calculation sometimes fails. But for some reason, on this night, at this game, with those absolutely amazing athletes on the track, it all came together. With each string and horn crescendo of the song, the skaters made another lap. Acid was out of the pack now, preparing for her scoring pass with the Betties holding Sully behind a fast four-wall. As the orchestra grew, she lapped the High Rollers line to the outside at turn two, putting her team 5 points ahead with the clock at 0:00. But she didn’t call the jam. Every fan in the stands, every skater and alumni representing the Breakneck Betties were jumping now, hands frantically waving from heads to hips. But she didn’t call the jam. The cellos played fanatically below the growing rise of violins, cheers, and penalty whistles, the last crescendo of the song was approaching. And as the french horns came thundering in above the screams of the crowd, as Sully came tearing through to her own scoring pass, Soulfearic Acid put her hands from her head to her hips and the Breakneck Betties were champions.
“Later that night, Acid approached me at the after party. She had waited an entire lap to call the game so that the moment of victory could coincide with the symphonic apex of the song. For years as a fan, I had theorized about the importance of conducting the roller derby soundtrack, but it was not until this humbling moment that I began to believe in it.
“Thanks to Blaze Streaming Media, that game is actually still archived online. Everyone should check it out – not for the barely audible soundtrack, but for the absolutely amazing game”.
And while there were many people and places – including you the audience, and “MisterSister’s hot jams” – that came to his mind when he talked about what kept him in the sport, these words really struck home in a way I feel sure you’ll echo:
“Being there for that moment when a formerly unsure thirty-something civilian emerges from the mist as a world-class athlete, plows beautifully at the pivot line, reseats their mouthguard, looks out over the screaming crowd, and confidently says, ‘let’s do this thing, motherf——.’ And it will be my honor to look back, smile in appreciation, and press play.”
Click on the image below for more tunes to savor from Agent Meow
LINK TO ORIGINAL ARTICLE