Drums and wires

DJ Etan reps the new sound, plus rap from Radix
By DAVID DAY  |  May 1, 2007

DJ Etan

“You should write about my friend Nate,” says a fellow at the counter of Harvard Square clothier Proletariat. “He DJs around and is just starting to get noticed.” With this he passes me a handmade CD-R, and one look at the track list makes it clear this is another new talent worth covering. DJ ETAN (a/k/a NATE DONMOYER) is a phone call away, and on bicycle. Within minutes, we’re meeting in Harvard Square’s Winthrop Park, complete with strumming folk-singer accompaniment. “I went into Proletariat to buy paint, and I had 20 or 30 mixes, so I just left them in there.” The mix, called “Civil Discobedience 2” (available for download here) includes 14 hot new tracks from D.I.M. and Surkin plus the obligatory Justice remix (Etan Bootleg Remix).

Just 19, Donmoyer has been into electronic music most of his life. “Since I first heard the Amen breakbeat, I just loved it. When I was 13, I got really into drum’ n’ bass and jungle, then trance and IDM and the minimal stuff. I was programming before I got a drum set, cause I couldn’t have a drum set where I lived. I didn’t get a drum machine until I was 16.”

He started with freeware called Hammerhead. “It’s like a cheap 909-wanna-be thing,” he says, mimicking the sound of the software. “Then I’d have my friend rhyme over it in seventh grade, and we thought we were hip-hop stars, but no one listened to it. But whatever.”

Like former Circuits subjects Tanner Ross and Danny Patterson, Donmoyer is a student at Berklee, where he studies Music Synthesis (“The facilities there are dank as hell”) and plays drums in a band, the Peasantry. “The band is my priority; I’m committed to a group of friends. I can always go home and DJ on my own, whenever, until I’m dead, but I’m here now.”

He uses the band as an excuse to DJ, however, playing before and after gigs. “It’s good to have a band, because it’s such a good contrast. I’ll play between us and other bands’ sets and then after. Usually at a rock show they’ll put on stuff that sounds like the band, and it’s like, ‘Why do you want to hear the perfect studio-production rock song and then you have to hear the live rock band?’ Why not give the band a chance and play something completely different? It’s worked for me.”

He also plays house parties around town. “I do laptop with a midi-controller, all Abelton Live, so I can fit it all in my backpack. So almost every party I go to I have it on me, and if there’s speakers I’ll be like, ‘Hey, you wanna dance?’ ”

Originally from Maryland, Donmoyer fell in love with the electro sound when he visited the nightclubs of DC. “Nations, Cubik night, Buzzlife, all those shows were awesome. Seeing everyone dancing, everyone feeling each other and it was so much fun.” He sees drumming as a natural extension of the techno work. “They thought I played keyboard ’cause of all this techno shit I do and I was like, ‘Dude, I’ll play drums!’ They co-exist so well. When I’m practicing drums, it’s not like I’m taking away from DJing. When I DJ, I’m still hearing a perfect pulse, which is gonna help my time. And when I’m playing drums, I’m still feeling musical forms, so when I’m DJing I can be as musical as possible. I don’t see them ever interfering.”

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