Real Talk With DJ Excel & Rick Rude: "You Bring The People, I'll Play The Music"

by Jerold Limon · January 10, 2011

Rick Rude, Jerold Limon, DJ Excel Rick Rude, Jerold Limon, DJ Excel

At a cozy nook in Noah's Bagel Shop on Larchmont, DJ Excel and Rick Rude, two East-Coast-to-West-Coast DJ transplants, settle in. DJ Excel (a Philly native) and Rick Rude (a Bostonian) had built reputations as major deck masters back East, so their Cali migration seems something of a conundrum.

Rick RudeDJ Excel has been in the game for over 20 years; homeboy put his first needle on the record at 11.  Pulling inspiration from DJ superstars like Jazzy Jeff, Excel engulfed himself in the art of music: countless hours spent shopping for unique records coupled with the tireless routines in turntablism. [Photo left: Rick Rude]

Rude has a similar provenance, establishing a niche for himself in the city of Brotherly Love and garnering enough of a following for him to branch out. The bagels and coffee are vestiges of their East Coast routine, and they cling to this joint in their morning as touchstone of their former lives. But they arrived together and on-time: so not L.A...

Even if they hadn't quite nailed the West Coast sensibility and mores, they've come seeking greater professional bounty, if not personal transformations. Rude gives credit to the expansion in L.A. to Graham Funke and StoneRokk, who convinced the young Rick Rude to move out to LA to years ago. Rude recently signed to S.K.A.M. Artist, has spent only two years in L.A. DJ Excel, who created Skratch Makaniks, has found great growth opportunities with the change.

DJ ExcelI first met Rick Rude at his birthday party last year at Hyde. I actually had no idea who he was. The intro was made by my former boss Jen Rosero from Bolthouse Productions. I was impressed with the number of DJs that showed love for Rick on his birthday, breaking out their eclectic vinyl collections. [Photo left: DJ Excel]

The DJ game has changed significantly in recent years, though, past the vinyl golden age...

DJs today treat music more like a hobby, rather than a lifestyle. DJ Excel and Rick Rude live the DJ lifestyle. Everyday they are practicing, shopping for records and now producing their own re-edits or tracks. They don't have a nine to five kind of job, and simply live for the weekends. Excel tells me that if you become a DJ and play the entire top 40 list, you never separate yourself from other DJs. Excel says it's all about keeping it hip, cool and familiar but putting your own musical twist on things. Clubs today are not what they were 10 years ago. DJs must come as a complete package. Promoters aren't interested in musical direction, but more in making money and filling a venue.

Rude tells me that on numerous occasions promoters or owners approach him and ask him to play more this way or that, play more "current" music.

I asked Rude how he reacts to this and how it makes him feel.

"I understand it's my job to play music people like but I also understand it's my mission to let people experience new music."

Rude tells me it's all about balance, the right amount of exposure to the new cool. They feel that as authentic outsiders, they can tap into L.A. nightlife, at SPiN Hollywood for example, and inject their funky beats to a greater effect.

Rick Rude, Jerold Limon, DJ Excel Rick Rude, Jerold Limon, DJ Excel

Rude likes Friday nights at Trousdale, and Excel digs Dance Right on Thursday nights. They like to grab some after-work nosh at Swingers. But they're not fooling anyone. They'll stick to their bagels and coffee of their East Coast origins.

[All photos by Brett Dallinger]