Aspiring DJs and producers work up a sweat at the DubSpot school.
By Bruce Tantum
SCHOOL OF HARD JOCKS DubSpot’s students are drilled in the arduous arts of deejaying and production.
Photograph: Chris Carvey / StreetflyStudio.com
As with many challenging projects, this one had its genesis with a simple dream. “This all came about simply because I personally wanted to learn how to produce music,” Dan Giove recalls. “I had been deejaying for a long time, and like most DJs, I wanted to learn how to make this music. But I just couldn’t find a place that would teach me that in a way that I would feel comfortable with. Just when I finally realized that there wasn’t really anything out there for me, I stumbled upon this old, empty space.” And, like many dreamers before him, he did the least sensible thing possible: He decided to open his own school. DubSpot, billed as “NYC’s first DJ, VJ and electronic-music production academy,” opened at 348 West 14th Street this past December; on Sunday 20, it’s tossing a big party featuring Masters at Work’s Louie Vega, Turntables on the Hudson’s Nickodemus and Mariano, the Ubiquita crew and Giove himself on the wheels of steel.
Though DubSpot has been open for five months, Giove considers the date to be a coming-out party of sorts. (Officially, the bash is serving as a celebration for DubSpot’s new event-production division, called DS14.) “It’s really marking the fact that we have finally got all of our equipment in,” he explains. “We now have eight student stations, fully loaded with all the equipment and software, and our recording studio is in place as well.”
The school—small but sleek, brimming with decks, computers, keyboards and the various high-tech gear needed for music production—already boasts almost 150 pupils. “We take on all kinds of students,” Giove says. “DailyCandy did a little write-up, and the next day the phone was off the hook, with all these DailyCandy people going ‘Oh yeah, I want to learn how to DJ!’ That showed us that there are so many kinds of people who want to learn about this. We have people from 12 to 50 years old coming to DubSpot right now. Some people are serious, going ‘I want to be the next Tiësto,’ and others are more like, ‘I just want to learn how to mix some songs together for a friend’s party.’
Of course, when a school has students, it also needs teachers. “It was really hard to find good instructors,” Giove says. “Most DJs and producers can’t really articulate what they do. And a lot of them, unfortunately, just don’t want to teach—they want to keep their secrets to themselves. To find a good DJ who can teach is not an easy thing.” He’s managed to succeed, though, building up an impressive facility that includes Neil Armstrong from the 5th Platoon turntablist crew, Kool and the Gang engineer-producer James Bonnefond, Ubiquita’s DJ Reborn, Chris Biggins (the 2007 Club World Award winner for Best Resident VJ) and longtime friend JP Solis, who’s been Giove’s partner in DubSpot from the start.
Giove has plenty of big plans for DubSpot, including an array of big-time guest lecturers, a corporate team-building program (hey, it beats climbing ropes in the woods) and a café on DubSpot’s street-level floor. “We’re also launching a youth program next month,” he says . “It’s a good way to get kids to play with music instead of video games.”
Despite DubSpot’s continuing evolution, Giove hasn’t yet realized one of his primary goals: “All of our curriculum has finally been tweaked and tried and tested. All of our equipment and software is finally up and running. We’re still progressing—and we’ll probably never stop doing so. But I’ve been so busy setting this place up, I still need to learn how to produce music!”