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Turnin' da Tables



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Turnin' da Tables
Jimi Bruce

For and Sid Vanderpool, Editor in Chief, this is DeeJay Naphtali Jimi Bruce "Turnin' da Tables n' Discs" from the downtown Nashville, Tennessee scene here at the end of the summer of the double-oh-deuce.  I'm with D.J. Onasile ("she-lay) at Bar Nashville tonight.  He's one of the hottest I've heard since I've been here, and in most demand.

He also plays at the Nashville version of New York City's club NV.  Read-on my precious reader, as we talk about it!

NJB:  Saturday night at Bar Nashville where dancing on the bar is on only encouraged but necessary, and there's mucho ladies on the dance floor...and not many men. 

SHILE:  I wanna do it better than any DJ that's ever stepped inside a bar's corporate group. Giving the best that I can hip, Ya know what I mean?

NJB:  I feel ya.  The call you DJ "She-lay" but you have a longer name than that, I'm gonna let you say it.

SHILE: ONAshe-lay. O-N-A-S-I-L-E.

NJB: Cool. What does that mean?  What are the origins of that?

SHILE:  It's a Euriban name, comes from the Euriban tribes of Africa, that's West Africa, ah parts of Nigeria basically.  It means the artist that builds the house, the artist that opens the house. It has two translations.

NJB: Okay. Are you from there?

SHILE: No actually I'm from west Tennessee, I grew up in Jackson, Tennessee.

NJB:  So how long have you been spinnin' here in Nashville?

SHILE:  I've been spinnin' in Nashville 'bout five years; strong 'bout four years.

NJB:  And you've relocated, you now new live in the Nashville area?

SHILE:  Yeah.

NJB:  Well I'd hear of you, but I really first discovered you back on my birthday last winter at BAR Nashville, so let's start there.  For my readers, Bar Nashville is like a place with a big bar and an even bigger dance floor; DJ booth above the crowd.  Outside, it's a brick building in the heart of downtown and the sign over the door says "BAR" in big letters, and in little letters underneath it says "Nashville".  So from your perspective, what's Bar Nashville all about?

SHILE: Some people say it's like a college fraternity party.  It's all about energy.  It's a fun factory.  When people leave, you wanna them remember what happened at BAR.  BAR plays everything from, like the fun fifties sing along, sixties, seventies, eighties, plus the new stuff.  It's all about knowing when you playing them, that can bring the energy up of the crowd an' whatnot.  I love it!

NJB: I notice that you play mostly CDs. You're a CDJ!

SHILE: Yeah, we just recently got on the MP3 files at DJ settings like,  DJMKS1 an whatnot; so we're usin' that.  It's real tuff.

NJB: How do you feel about that?  I mean did you ever come from a place where you spun vinyl?

SHILE:  Yeah, my roommates in college, ya know DJ L.J., ah, my roommate right now, a cat by the name of Universal Vibe, and I had a real, real close friend who passed away in '92 that got me into Hip Hop in the beginning and so ah, by the name of DJ Chicano (rest in peace). My man hooked me up back then and I was always on the musician's side of things.  I played keyboards and drums growing-up; I played in the band and whatnot in High School ya know, did that kind of thing.  Got into college, got involved in the music, but I've always been around DJs so it really kinda helped out.  So when I got my first start, which was actually here in Nashville at Have A Nice Day Café, I was actually doing security,

NJB: Wow!

SHILE: Yeah, and a big group of people came in, three hundred plus, and they wanted a live DJ to spin and there were CDs up there, and so I walked right in and did it.  Did a great job at doin' it on CDs, and then it's like all of a sudden its like, 'hey let's rotate you in!'  They brought me in actually on a Saturday night, my very first night...

NJB: Right in the deep water!

SHILE:  Ohh, man it was wonderful!  It was wonderful.  And the radio stations around here helped pump me up, whatnot, keep me going an whatnot, cause ya hear a lot of the DJs mention my name here and there over the radio, so I've really mastered, or not really mastered, but let's say I know how to control the politics and all that nature when it comes to down to being around a mainstream flow.  All of this going into a mainstream culture right now, anyway...

NJB: Right, exactly.

SHILE:  Especially down here in the South where some people call it the "dirty South" but it's not like what everybody thinks it is.

NJB: To me it's not the "dirty South", I mean, being from the New York metro it's been a little bit pleasanter surprise, especially since 9/11. Some of the stupidity seems to have calmed down, and various peoples are getting along more somewhat because of the music out across the spectrum.

SHILE:  It's totally different now. I really appreciate being here, seeing some of the things that, uh, I mean, my parents grew up down this way, so it's all been a learning experience.  When I came from west Tennessee to middle Tennessee I was like, "whoa, there is a difference!"

NJB: What's the main difference?

SHILE: The mentality.  Mentality.  Probably the reality of it all everybody works in factories down in west Tennessee, more as where here everybody's into music , ya know, but they still work.(laughs)

NJB: Right!  Yeah, I'm feelin' that.  It also doesn't hurt that this is the state's Capitol either; givin' it a more big-time status.  When I came here and they had sold it to me coming here for radio, Nashville has a more of a "baby Atlanta" feel to it.

SHILE:  Yeah, and we've heard that about, let's see, I've been in the area 'cause I went to MTSU [Middle Tennessee State University] school...

NJB: Yeah?  What'd you major in?

SHILE:  Recording Industry Management

NJB: Wish they'd had that major when I went to school.

SHILE:  That, which is whole 'nother story, we can talk about that(laughs)

NJB: Ha! Yeah, I bet...

SHILE: When I got up this way, probably like for ten years in the middle Tennessee area, and you can tell the difference from city to city, and this is like thee spot, ya know probably next to Knoxville and they've got U.T. up there and whatnot, but we've got a lot of colleges here in Nashville, and that really helps us out a lot besides all the music!

NJB: Okay, and this brings me to another point I wanted to mention when you were talking about how you DJ at Bar Nashville, you have a college crowd, but would you say also that a lot of your support is from tourists to the capitol district and "music city" stuff?

SHILE:  Yeah.  Ah, we have people coming from western Kentucky, northern Alabama, west Tennessee, parts of Missouri, parts of Mississippi all the time.  You play "Sweet Home Alabama" at midnight, you gonna have a great reaction.  It's not gonna be like, "what in the world are you doing?"  Especially at a place like BAR Nashville, so, I mean, you play that, I get a lot of love the surrounding states.

NJB: I've felt that love the times I've hung out with you there because the crowd is totally with you, an African American DJ, and they're mostly Caucasian, or as you say, "mainstream"

but they're digging what you're doing and what you're sayin' on the mike.  Everybody seems happy as you juice the crowd!

SHILE:  Yeah, it's really, really hard to pinpoint what it is, but I just think man,  if you have a great aura, and you try to be positive about everything, and you really look at everything for what it is and see the reality of it all, and make the most out of it, everyday is a party.

NJB: Everyday is a, I like that (laughs)

SHILE: I mean not necessarily saying you actually just party and get wasted, but everyday is a party because life should be fun!  And if you're not having fun, or if you're learning anything, then...

NJB: Then you're doing the wrong thing.

SHILE:  Yeah, ya doing the wrong thing.

NJB: I've been there.   What's the address of BAR Nashville?

SHILE:  BAR is 214 Second Avenue South.

NJB:   So let's switch tracks and talk about the other place you play at.   A club that I know from it's original in New York City, NV.  I've played the original on Spring and Hudson streets, and Nashville's has been open about a year now?

SHILE:  Yeah, just a little over a year now, it's called NV Bar and Nightclub, 131 Second Avenue North, there just right up the street from each other.

NJB: Now there practically right across the street from one another, do you have any politics with that?  The people, apparently they work with you on that, they're not jealous?

SHILE:  A lot of the DJs around here that are truly great DJs and have great personalities, they're able to not have to deal with the conflict of interest...

NJB: Okay, well put.

SHILE:  For the first two years that I was down here I was with the BMG group which owned Have A Nice Day Café`, BAR Nashville, and all that whole stuff so I was with them for like, five years.  So when we had some of the guys that worked over at NV and those other clubs it was like a family thing.  I've always had an interest in Dance music in cause my music as an artist, myself was kind of ambient  and kinda transient sometimes but I was using different rhythms in my mix at times.  So I flipped the rhythms and learned a little bit more, and got involved with NV an' whatnot and it's a family atmosphere.  The club looks like no other club in Nashville, ya know you're like, "where am I", so it's a great place for me.

NJB: That's that NV décor patterned after the original one in New York City.  It's like a harem room in there with the drapes and the burgundy furniture and plush accents, crystal chandeliers, brown tones, lasers and checkerboard patterns too. Real nice.

SHILE: Real nice.

NJB:  And the balcony upstairs in New York was the DJ booth.   So what's your experience with NV in total?  You're having a good time there as well?

SHILE:  I'm having a great time.  I'm there Thursday and Friday night.  I'm linking-up with two of the hottest DJs also here that's in the dance music scene, "DJ Fly" and "Dave Apauzo", those are special-type guys.

NJB: So you're in the mix turning the discs there, but NV's crowd wants a different flava don't they?  BAR's more Top 40 and NV's more Club, right?

SHILE:  Yeah, NV's more club.  I play more club mixes.

NJB: You still workin' CD's though.

SHILE:  Yeah I still work CD over there.

NJB: Awright.  See, personally, I'm ole skool guy. I admire guys or gals who do CDs these days. I'm, uh, tryin' to make the transition, but I'm begrudgingly wit it.  If I got ta play a gig, I'm gonna play vinyl and some CDs unless I'm playing a Gentleman's club where it's not mix intensive.

SHILE:  Yeah, yeah.  One of the things about playin' on CDs; it's like,  a lot of the clubs around here bought the whole CD comes Dave by the way

NJB: Dave Apuzo's coming over on our interview set right now.  He's also a major punter here in downtown Nashville.  Thank U, Good to meet you.

DA:  Alright.

NJB: So which club let me put you on the spot, which club do you like better?  And no politically correct answers either (laughs)...

SHILE:  Actually I like NV better.  NV has, well a lot of people down here do not understand the concept of being a DJ as an artist.

NJB: True.

SHILE:  Being able to go over to NV, I can play my original music as well as, ya know mix something off the fly that's totally off the wall.  I mean, have opportunity to do what makes you Hot!   Get the people to really, really know about'cha, and so it's been really great over there at NV, and I love it; it's not a lot of pressure 'cause you don't have a lot of people poking you.

NJB: Even though the "DJ booth" looks like a closet...You can walk right by it, it's like the coat check room.

SHILE: It's like a double door with a red light in it.  It's just totally out of the way and they're looking' for ya .

NJB: So does that affect the way you can see the crowd?

SHILE:  Naw, the crowd is right there, though, so, you know, actually you're real close to the crowd, and in most cases they spill over the dance floor, and they over by the tables near me, still dancin', and plus there's the stage right by me in the booth, so it's just a matte of just walking up to the door and looking out to see what's going on.

NJB: And using the big mirrors mounted on the opposite wall too, I guess helps.

SHILE:  Yeah! Versus like at BAR Nashville where you have everybody in the booth with you

which is one reason why they won't bring turntables in there.

NJB: Ah huh, 'cause it's too accessible. 

SHILE: Yeah, and you got girls dancing on the DJ booth; I'm leavin' one extreme to another.

NJB: Ah yeah, at BAR Nashville I noticed one of their main things is they let the ladies dance on the bar, on the DJ booth almost.  The phenomena I first saw at Hogs 'N Heifers back in lower Manhattan.

SHILE:  Yeah, and that was the thing that every bar store that they have all over the country; all the girls they have dance up on the bar, that's one of the concepts things. Not really like, ya know a thing..

NJB: It's a gimmick, everybody has one...

SHILE:  That's what they do. NV's totally different, I've got no pressures.

NJB: It's more laid-back, it's more, I think, New York style.  I think that's its concept, more East Coast vibe on Second Ave!   They're branching out all over nowadays.  Well dear reader,

We're sitting here in Nashville, Tennessee with DJ Onasile.  This is you chance to promote yourself on  Let my readers know about your upcoming events, gigs, or parties...

SHILE:  Actually I've got a big armada of stuff that's just about to come together.  I was recently on a TV show on channel 4 WSMV.  We don't know if we're gonna be back for this upcoming season; there's a lot of politics and whatnot going on, so we'll wait and see what's going on.  I'm about to get a website started.  Right now it's in the making, but I can tell you the address is gonna be www.angelfire/electronica2/ 

NJB: That's a short address for ya! (laughs!)

SHILE:  Yeah, it's cool. Basically it's a simple set-up; we had to get something started up real quick because there's a lot of attention that I've been getting lately, where if was music,...

NJB: Ya blowin' up!

SHILE:  It's really cool, so I got a lotta stuff that's gonna be going on from mix compilations to actually bringing out some of the original work.  Some of my work will be featured on e of the upcoming TV shows.  I can't say which ones because it's still in the works, and it's a lot of good things and maybe I'll be the one here in Nashville  to show with a lot of the cats that are with me, to show these people that DJs are artists, and what can be done!  I will be in Cincinnati soon; I will be up at U.T. up in Knoxville for some of the parties whatnot...

NJB: No specific dates?

SHILE: No specific dates right now, everything's still in the talk right now, ah 'because it was supposed to happen a month ago, and we didn't get things together.

NJB: Right, scheduling's a mutha.

SHILE:  Sometimes a DJ gets really busy with a lot of things going, and to keep my attention here takes focus.

NJB: Yeah, and I feel your concentration from a mentor status, and that's good my brotha!

So here's the sixty-four thousand buck question that I always ask my interviews, do you do private parties? (laughs)

SHILE: I haven't yet did one private party.  I'm working at it...

NJB: Good answer.

SHILE:  I actually gave a card out the other night.  You was in the booth, and the guy came up

NJB: Yeah, I remember that guy.

SHILE:  I probably don't do it, but since the emergence of me going to the MP3 files, and being able to DJ from laptop or computer and whatnot, I might cause it's just a matter of just pluggin' it up and that's it.

NJB: You got it, that right!  You can mix the party at home or wherever, even if it's a wedding, bachelor gig, and something, bring your laptop, and then you can just basically bring your microphone, and you're set.

SHILE:  Yeah, because I don't like complications.  Like I said, I was with the DJs who went to do the private parties, stacking your crates of records in there, gotta get'em out that night because the sun is gonna warp'em in the morning...(laughs)

NJB: Been there big time, 'man.  I remember the days when I had to break-down my whole system every night.  The crowd would be gone, here you are with the clean-up crew and the owners of the spot; maybe one girl  lingers to try to hang out with ya after you finish, but by the time you repack all your stuff, you're so tired that you hardly have enough energy to deal with her! (laughs)..

SHILE:  Exactly.  You tired!

NJB: That's whey nowadays if someone asks can I do a private party, I say if it's in a club, and they've got their own equipment, then I'll bring my records, and that's all.  Well Onasile, I'm glad you took some timeout from your busy schedule to talk with us here at

On behalf of our editor, Sid Vanderpool back in Idaho, it's been good.  I know you gotta step down the street to NV and a fashion show rehearsal, thank you for hangin' in the DJZone.

Much success and stay in touch.

SHILE:  Everything has a message.

NJB: DJ She-lay, a man of many quotes! (laughter)














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