Blaine Soileau brings old-school philosophy to modern DJ techniques
RICH LOPEZ | Staff Writer
Blaine Soileau wouldn’t say that his DJing is about his image. The beefy arms, scruffy good looks and shirtless spinning, however, don’t hurt one bit when he’s at the turntable. If being a muscle daddy gets him a few fans… well, there are worse fates.
Soileau has been a staple in the Dallas DJ scene for years, but don’t mistake his image for his talent. He’s been mixing music since well before he had hair on his pecs.
“I started [DJing] in high school, which was 1979,” he says. “I feel like I’ve gotten where I’m at not because of any image. I just knew how to market myself.”
Soileau (pronounced “swallow”) knows the P.R. game well, owing to a stint in Los Angeles when he pursued an acting career. Having to get his name out as much as possible was the game then and it continues to be now. It’s just a different arena.
He’s fared much better on the DJ path than acting. Soileau has built himself into a marquee name even outside Texas. With bookings in D.C., L.A, Phoenix, Fire Island and more, he’s not only put his name into a national spotlight, he’s also bringing something back to Dallas each time with some specific hope and with his regular gig at the Dallas Eagle.
“The gay scene here is finally graduating to what’s going on now,” he says. “I never really had good things to say about Dallas’ music scene because of my travels. The music I would experience in other cities was always livelier and happening.”
He’s changed his mind now that he senses Dallas audiences aren’t “stuck in the ’80s and ’90s” anymore. It’s taking a while, but the sounds of Los Angeles, New York and even Eastern Europe are making way here. And Soileau sees audiences responding.
“For a while, all of us [DJs] here had to spoon-feed the crowd, but I think it’s moving into a good direction,” he says. “The stuff I’m playing at the Eagle, and the other DJs, we have a much more progressive sound.”
He brings that sound to Release, the club night he hosts at the Eagle twice a month. As Soileau infuses a cosmopolitan, modern sound to his party, he’s still a purist about technique. He’s embraced digital music over vinyl, but in a time when people can call themselves a DJ and program their mixes to autopilot, Soileau still brings some of his old skills to the proverbial turntable.
“There is definitely so much more you can do with digital music, but I don’t agree with the programs some are using,” he says. “I’m so thankful I learned how to beat-mix. I can manipulate a song just as I would a piece of vinyl and line up the beats old school. Programs that sync songs for you, that’s not DJing.”
Sometimes Soileau sounds like he misses the club environs of years before. He enjoyed playing the anthems of disco divas like Kristine W and Deborah Cox, but he finds that sound isn’t happening right now. His focus was on house music with vocals, but trends now lead to more instrumental tracks. But an unlikely tool now works in his favor.
“The good thing is that radio has become more dance oriented,” he says. “There are no remixes needed so when people go out to clubs, they wanna hear stuff on the radio. That gets them on the floor dancing. When it gets packed, then I can give them what I want but maintain the energy of it.”
Soileau doesn’t worry about setting himself apart from other DJs; he just wants a flawless night. So if that means playing music from the radio in order to have a happy dance floor, he’s on board with that.
“If I have to bite the bullet and play Britney, am I selling out? No,” he says. “My goal is to make people have a good time. I’ve never thought about being different from other DJs.”
Which perhaps makes him different after all.
But we still like it when he takes his shirt off.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 19, 2011.