A Conversation With Athens' Hottest DJ: DJ Barticus
By Jane Dickerson, Contributor
Speaking from personal experience, Y2K night is one of the most well-done dance parties someone could attend. With the perfect mixture of obvious hits and even more hidden gems, DJ Barticus provides. Michael Bart, more commonly known as DJ Barticus, is known for his theme nights, animated persona, frock of curly brown hair, and perhaps most importantly, his jump suits.
The ACRN Alumni gave me a few minutes of his busy day to ask questions on just how he became the hottest DJ of the Athens music scene. What is it about his 80's nights that get everyone out and dancing?
Q: How'd you score the gig to open for Soulja Boy?
I'm part of something called the S.W.I.M. Team Organization, which links a lot of local businesses like Casa, The Union, and Mike's Dog Shack. They brought Juicy J last year, who I also got to open for, and this year they brought Soulja Boy. I had a lot of fun. Juicy J and Soulja Boy are the two biggest names I have gotten to open for. Unfortunately, I had to leave before Soulja Boy came on to go play a wedding .
Q: How long have you been DJing?
Since 2000 or 2001. I went to OU and spent the first couple years being a dorm room DJ. I was always fascinated by music and I played guitar for years, but realized the music I preferred was not guitar heavy. I knew it was a turning point when I sold my guitar for a turntable.
Q: What are your favorite venues to play in Athens?
I love playing the new Union. The environment and the lights are really great. Casa is another favorite because it is a really small, intimate venue - perfect for experimenting with new ideas. When I want to do something a little different, Casa is my venue of choice.
Q: What are some ideas that you have experimented with?
Once I did a set set with nothing but 45s, playing them at the wrong speed in slow motion. Some people had to go home because they said they were nauseous. At Casa, “Don't Stop Me Now” is the workers’ favorite song, and so I played it ten times in a row.
Q: Did it drive people insane?
It actually seemed to work. The fade out to piano and the beginning worked well together.
Q: How do you feel like you have progressed since your start?
I started out with “Dance or Die” at The Union from 2003 to 2008, playing songs that were extremely popular at that time. I remember buying the vinyl singles at that time when they were brand new. Now, I play what I refer to as “on the cutting edge of old school,” songs from 2009 to 2012, that are just starting to be considered retro.
Q: Do you have a stylistic approach?
Again, things that are seen as retro.
I hear music in a different way, and usually have a feeling for if a song will become very popular. I also pay attention to what appeals to everyone and choose to be more specific. You can specialize in certain things and find the more artistic crowd.
I also have very nice flyers. My wife is an amazing artist and does all of my advertising. It's so important to have a solid identity to attract a certain type of crowd.
Q: What makes a good crowd or a bad crowd?
I don't find that I have bad crowds. I put out a certain energy and people tend to return that. I purposefully only do weddings by referral, so as not to have the image of a "wedding DJ." Honestly, some of the best crowds I have had were at house parties.
Q: What kind of atmosphere do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy dance parties the most. Festivals are cool, but different. Weddings are fun too, and helpful in making a living as a DJ.
Q: Does anyone ever steal the DJ booth?
Not really, but part of what I want to change for the next set at Casa is just allowing the whole stage to be open for dancing and for me too, instead, sit up in a booth in the window. I enjoy being part of a crowd, but sometimes when the dancing gets a little too wild, I get worried about people spilling drinks on my vinyl or turntables.
Q: What is the wildest thing that has happened while DJing?
Both I'd say were back when I still did "Dance or Die." Once, people were literally having sex up against the wall in the crowd. Another time, a speaker fell literally on top of someone.
Q: What might you dislike about Athens?
When people treat it like a temporary home. Obviously, I don't feel that way since I have chosen to say here post-graduation, but some people act like it's just a temporary home - littering, partying, and disrespecting it as a city.
Q: What inspires you?
How people react to songs and being able to witness lots of different types of audiences. I get to do lots of weddings.
And I don't always discover music, a 10-year-old might come up and ask me to play something. That's how I discovered the song "Nay Nay!"
Q: Do you have any side projects?
Well I have a weekly radio show on channel 106.7 FM at 9 am every Sunday. We play a lot of weird oldies and my show in particular focuses on disco. Mostly, I DJ.
Q: Do you have a personal mantra?
Honestly, the jumpsuits. Half of my success as a DJ is in the jumpsuits. Maybe not necessarily that, but in having a personal uniform or something easily recognizable, like The Simpsons or The Flintstones. It's easier to identify people, so I think it's important to have a persona.