Maybe 2005 wasn’t that long ago, but it kinda seems like forever since Carlos D was DJing at every club in LA week after week and URB had to put him on the cover to show what’s up.
When URB put Carlos D on the cover of our magazine in 2005, it was kinda a big deal. I think we had originally planned for Mos Def that month, but he flaked out at the last minute. I hadn’t seen Carlos DJ yet, but some friends of mine from Detroit had booked him recently and couldn’t say enough good things about the experience.
I was a junior editor at the time and had never really pitched my own cover. So when I took the idea to my boss, Scott Sterling, and his boss, Raymond Roker, there was a little trepidation. “Why would we put the bass player of a rock band on the cover of URB?” was asked. I didn’t have a real clear answer—but it seemed to me that all the kids who would have been ravers or backpackers in the mid-to-late ’90s we’re suddenly becoming “hipsters” who listened to indie rock, even when they went out to dance. Interpol was already big with their second album, Antics, and getting played by DJs at clubs like Fucking Awesome, which was run by Steve Aoki and Franki Chan. In fact, Carlos D was DJing there that week, so a rallied up the crew and dragged them down to see what the fuss was about.
I can’t tell you what impressed Raymond or Scott about that night. I can tell you that for me, it was all about the Front 242 Carlos dropped, followed by the extended version of The Cure’s “Facination Street.” It reminded me of 1990 in Detroit, the year before Grunge, when we used to sneak into clubs downtown where DJs like Darren Revell were playing “Alternative” music like “I Wanna Be Adored.” I was hooked.
Little did we know that the Carlos D cover would mark something of a new phase for this mag. Many “indie” covers followed (Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand, The Faint), and we even started a new weekly party with Steve and Franki, Loose Tooth, which was meant to focus specifically on this indie-dance scene. Other publications started referring to URB’s Carlos D cover as the affirmation of the “rock star DJ” trend as legit. We even had Carlos DJ our Coachella Afterparty that year.
And then it sorted faded away. Many of the people are still around. Steve Aoki is probably the biggest name to come out of that scene. Franki is doing his thing. You’ll still hear about Nick Zinner from Yeah Yeah Yeahs playing records around town. But it’s mostly fallen back to electronic tunes, thanks to Daft Punk, Ed Banger and the like. And that’s great. But sometimes it seems like a new generation just learned how to beat match, and the result is not dissimilar to the big room house at any megaclub aroudn the world. Hell, some of these guys are now playing megaclubs.
As for Carlos, he seems to have stopped with the DJing for a while. He no longer listed on the website of the agency that used to handle his bookings, so I assume he’s taking more than a quick break. The funny thing is—even though this was only three years ago, it could havebeen a decade ago. I recall the Rockstar DJ thing about as clearly as I do those days in Detroit 15 years earlier, which means very fondly, though rather faintly.