The Secret Service was busy digging through the background of Adam Bravin, aka DJ Adam 12, when the two of us spoke yesterday. The reason? The spinner behind popular old school hip-hop party AFEX — which debuts at Los Globos on Thursday night — will perform at an Obama fundraiser at House of Blues later this month, which Obama is scheduled to attend. (It will also feature the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles and B.o.B. Bravin's like, on the invitation, which you can see at the bottom of this post.)
He DJed one of Obama's birthday parties in Hollywood last month, which was attended by Mayor Villaraigosa and Obama advisor David Axelrod but not Obama himself. Since then he's been pulled more closely into the presidential circle, however, with more gigs in the works. He gave us the scoop on how all of this came to be and whether Fox News is dictating his playlists.
Is the Secret Service about to call you? Should we make this quick?
They may or may not call me today. They're doing their background check, so they may have a few questions for me.
Are you worried about dirt they might find from your ex-girlfriends?
No, although that depends on how many girlfriends back they go.
So, at this point would you say you're Obama's official DJ?
I'd say I'm more like one of them. He will probably have guys doing stuff in different regions of the country.
How did all of this come about?
I was DJing the VIP at the Trousdale in Hollywood in July. I think I take more chances on the turntables than a lot of these younger kids do, and that night I really went for it. At the end of the night the lights came on, and my friend Pantera Sarah told me, “You're about to be stoked.” A woman named Adia Smith came over and said, “I really loved what you did in here tonight, and I think my boss would really love it too. I was wondering if you do private events.”
I said, “Of course,” and she handed me her card. It said, “Obama 2012” on it and she said Obama was her boss. I kind of freaked out and said, “I think that's the coolest card I've ever gotten.” Still, it's Hollywood, and nine times out of ten nothing comes of it.
She started speaking with my DJ management, and said Obama was doing six birthday parties in six cities for his 50th birthday, and I [signed on]. Cut to a few weeks later and I'm standing next to the mayor and David Axelrod talking about music. It was at a weird sports bar called Spot 5750, and it was also a fundraiser. It was a great party but an interesting venue.
So, you haven't met Obama yet?
No, but it's supposed to happen at the event on the 26th at House of Blues, because he's definitely going to be there. I believe it's a fundraiser.
And that's why the Secret Service is checking on you?
Yeah, they check on every guest who attends those things. They asked for my information, for my birthday, my address, how long I lived there, and my social security number.
Have you been reading up about what kind of hip-hop Obama likes?
Yeah, everything I can find. At the other party I touched on all of the ones I'd read about, like Jay-Z, Lil Wayne, and a lot of Chicago people, Kanye and all the usual suspects.
What about Common? Are you worried that your playlist might be scrutinized by Fox News?
I played Common. I'm not gonna worry about that. If anyone was worried about it, I'm sure they would give me a list of what not to play. Although, I may play it a little more safe than I would for my own night.
What kind of music did you play at the birthday party?
There were a lot of young people there and a lot of older people there, and I've learned that the move in those situations is to please the older people first, 'cause they'll be the first to leave. So in the first couple hours I was playing a lot of '70s and '80s classic R&B, and Prince and Michael Jackson, and after the speeches I played for the younger crowd, contemporary hip-hop. The people [running] the party apparently liked what I did, because we have the House of Blues event coming up, and we're talking about doing other things in California and other states, but none are confirmed. Adia is confident that when Obama's in the same room as I and hears what I do he's gonna be super happy.
You spun at an Oprah party, right? Did the Obama gig have anything to do with that?
Not really. I DJed her New Year's party at the Soho House, which was also her network launch party. She and a bunch of executives and celebrities were having dinner. Someone who was close with her told me to play “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross at midnight and she was very happy about that.
Does Obama pay pretty well?
I don't know if I should really discuss it. It's not about the money for me. If Obama tweeted that I DJed his party — and my mother saw it — that would be worth more than any dollar amount. My mom isn't easily impressed, but she was with this, which goes a long way with a Jewish mother.