The accidental DJ

Trying to establish himself as a musician, Micah Banes ended up behind the turntables as ‘MicahB.’ And that’s not a bad place to be

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer

FROM BLACK TIE TO GOSPEL TO HAPPY B-DAY! Micah Banes cut his musical teeth with his group  Foreign Trade, but now wows audiences as DJ  MicahB, and as a producer of gospel-cum-dance music. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)
FROM BLACK TIE TO GOSPEL TO HAPPY B-DAY! Micah Banes cut his musical teeth with his group Foreign Trade, but now wows audiences as DJ  MicahB, and as a producer of gospel-cum-dance music. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The Bank, 1313 Main St.
Sept. 18 at 7:30 p.m. Free.

When Micah Banes blows out the candles on his 32nd birthday cake, he may have only a split second to make a wish and down a piece. That night, he’s also DJing at his own b-day bash under the moniker MicahB (his preferred calling card). And if those beats don’t match up, then there might be blood on the dancefloor.

But really, the last thing MicahB would have ever thought of is providing the entertainment at his own party.

“I kinda fell into [DJing] accidentally,” he says. “But I like the idea of liberating genres and mixing music together. To me, that’s what music is all about.”

Initially, this philosophy was translated into his band (perhaps better described as a “music project”) Foreign Trade. He described the group as electro-funk in which he layered computer-generated sounds against the music of live instruments. Foreign Trade garnered some good local attention; MicahB booked gigs in the underground house scene at venues like Zubar, minc and Alexandre’s. But when he was asked to perform at Black Tie Dinner in 2007, the doors swung wide open.

Foreign Trade eventually dissipated, so MicahB pushed his solo work. Owing to his involvement with Black Tie, he found himself working the fundraiser circuit, a move that has exploded his DJing career over the past year. It has also positioned him for making an impression on the LGBT community.

“With gay crowds, you can definitely feel the music working the energy,” he says. “Especially with the nonprofit work, I can feel like I’m giving back but also put positive energy into my community and of course, the bash itself.”

MicahB got his musical tentacles into other high profile projects, like providing music samples for filmmaker Israel Luna’s controversial movie Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, DJing mixers for the likes of Youth First Texas, Lambda Legal, DIFFA and BTD, and spinning tunes at Margaret Cho’s concert at the Verizon Theatre last week. On top of all that, he’s booked the fall with a gay cruise to Hawaii that includes local comedian Paul J. Williams on the bill.

MicahB, like it or not, is becoming a big deal.

“I love the charity work because it’s easier to control,” he says. “Yeah, I’m young to the DJ world, but I also think that my background in music works to my advantage. I can maybe hear some things in music that DJs without that background wouldn’t hear.”

That’s a bold statement from the likes of a self-proclaimed newbie. But MicahB also isn’t shy about the work he does. He’ll brag, but in a careful, even polite way. But that doesn’t hold him back from admitting his musical plans are grand.

“Well, it’s all about time and the resources, but I’m planning for world domination,” he says with a crooked smirk. “It’s all a hustle but it’s that and the passion that has helped me keep things going. And now, my five-year plan includes hitting up other cities.”

In turn, he has some superstition about totally discussing the future. While he certainly has his goals and is happy with how the career is unfolding, he doesn’t want to jinx anything.

Banes is fine with the baby steps he’s now taking, and if world domination means by his music, that means more production as well. Along with his own music and DJ work, MicahB has five albums under his belt as a producer and some apparently obscure recordings floating around Italy.

MicahB worked with former Dallas musician Dan Paul (who moved on to New York as part of the trio She-Dick) on some tracks from Paul’s latest album. Along with producing credits on other minor releases, it’s his work with a local gospel singer that could put a feather in his producing cap.

“It was awesome working with Marvin [Matthews],” he says. “He’s such a glowing person who uses his national resources to create the project. He would do a studio recording in L.A. that I worked on the audio streams of. Someone else would mix and then would be mastered by someone else. It was wild.”

The resulting CD, Now, was released this year under Matthews’ pseudonym M. Francis. The album stretched Matthews beyond his usual gospel sound into realms of pop and dance. More importantly, for MicahB at least, the album’s potential distribution by EMI puts his name out there on a bigger scale — and ups his game.

“This is a big step for me,” he says. “The album has been sent to radio stations across the country. That’s something!  I’m just growing with it all, man.”

For now, he’s got a birthday to worry about — which always coincides with Dallas Pride. Even though he’s booked other DJs to entertain his guests, he couldn’t resist getting up there himself. For now, it’s about MicahB and he’s all about the music. That is, until he admits the real truth.

“I’m a DJ,” he says with a laugh. “We’re all divas!”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas

When you’re a Jett

Queer rocker Joan and radio gadfly Jack weren’t separated at birth, but they still have a lot in common

We thought it weirdly coincidental that local radio guy Jack E. Jett and rocker Joan Jett had so much in common: Just look at the spelling of their odd, shared last name. They don’t look like twins, but might they have been siblings?

No, don’t be dumb. But we did come up with a few striking comparisons.

This has been a big year for Joan. She was back in the spotlight after the indie film The Runaways depicted the history of her first band (and hinted at lesbian overtones). Timed with its release in spring, she dropped an impressive greatest hits album including Runaways material, solo work and of course, with the Blackhearts.

Joan may always be known best for “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” from 1982. That’s OK, because we can still jam to that song as well as “Bad Reputation,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me” and “A.C.D.C”

Jack Jett never fails to rock us in his own way. He’s made a comeback as well with two radio shows … not bad for someone who got jacked (no pun intended) around earlier this year by Clear Channel: Just when he was set to start his CNN radio show, the plug was pulled.

Resilient as ever, Jack has come back pulling double duty on Internet radio. He hosts ilume-A-Nation on Tuesdays with what he calls “campy music for boomers and hipsters.” And he’s brought back The Jack E. Jett Show Thursdays, co-hosting with Sly’s mom, Jackie Stallone.

With such shared longevity, we knew there was something to these two. So we delved.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 02, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas