Big Ups with modrums

Photo by Attis Clopton

Name, Location, What You Do:
My name is Morgan Greenstreet, AKA DJ modrums.
Ridgewood, Queens.

Drummer, percussionist, DJ and journalist (Afropop Worldwide, NPR, RBMA and even Resident Advisor once or twice 😉 ).

I have to start with my parents who are both musicians, and specifically my father who has been playing professionally since he was 16. From a very early age they exposed me to a wide range of music, live and recorded and encouraged me to play. In the house, we heard everything from Bach to Bartok, Al Green to Grant Green, Bird, Coltrane, Dolphy, and also some Cuban and West African music. I remember particularly wearing out a compilation CD called Real Rumba from Cuba (Corason Records) that totally blew my young mind. My father used to teach a course in World Music (i.e. anything that was not part of the Anglo-Western musical canon) as source for composition and improvisation. I listened intently to all the music he brought home and made myself mix CDs constantly of music I dug in the public library and copied from his collection. As I grew older I was most attracted to music from Africa and the Africain diaspora. I traveled to Cuba and Ghana to study drumming and write about it. I dove into NYC salsa history and music when I moved to the city after college and I also started playing more Afrobeat and Congolese music with Nkumu Katalay, and other styles of Latin and Caribbean music with Karikatura, Yotoco, Fulaso and Juanita Cash. When I started DJing, I basically picked up where my ears have been leading me as a musician, though I’ve definitely become more open to certain different sounds since I started DJing, particularly more ’80s and disco aesthetics, though I still avoid playing a lot of disco. I try to follow the music that moves me, that I’m most excited about, or that has a certain pull on my ears, heart, gut. I don’t follow a lot of DJs, although there are definitely certain people who inspire me a lot, in their music and their hustle: Eric Banta of Names You Can Trust; Brian Shimkovitz of Awesome Tapes from Africa; Hugo Mendez of Sofrito/Nouvelle Ambiance; my friends Boris Paillard AKA DJ Mixanthrope and Edna Martinez in Berlin; also Greg Kaz, Mickey Perez, Cesar Toribio in NYC and, big time, DJ tres dos, my main collaborator in NYC. I’ve learned a ton from him already and it never stops. I’m also inspired by the picó sound system culture of Caribbean Colombia, although I’ve yet to visit and experience it in person, their mix of musical influences and over-dub and version aesthetic really appeals to me. And I love soukous, like a lot.

Favorite Records at the Moment:

Alix Jacques – Alix Jacques Colé Colé Band
Silvestre Mendez – Oriza
Bebeto – Cheio De Razão
Empire Bakuba – Show Times (mainly the joint “Petshi Pour Ida”)

Best Digging Story:
I don’t have that many special stories. My favorite digging experience is ‘discovering’ a cheap record that lights up the dance floor and becomes a favorite of mine. It happens a lot and it keeps me digging. Here’s a story, though not sure if it qualifies as a digging or a gigging story or both: DJ tres dos turned me on to the cadence group Lino and the Hardway from St. Maarten, particularly the record Street Fighter. On tour in Europe, I found another record by the group at Plexus in Delft, Netherlands, which is an excellent and historic shop if you find yourself in the area. Later that tour I was spinning a small party at KAOS, a collective art space on the outskirts of Berlin, pretty far off the beaten path. At some point I played the Lino record, and from the first notes, a tall young guy approached the booth, like “What are you playing?” I show him the cover. “That’s my dad!” Sure enough there was a likeness between him and Lino! I didn’t get his name or contact or anything but he told me he was visiting Berlin from London and his friend happened to bring him to KAOS of all places. That experience made us both pretty happy.

Favorite Mix and Why. Any Genre, Any DJ.
I don’t want to sound like an asshole but I don’t listen to a lot of mixes. I guess I have so much music at home to listen to all the time. Most of my favorite mixes are from my friends: Here’s one from DJ tres dos and lo_fi_vinyl Lemuel. ZL #2: Deep crate salsa. It’s fucking great all the way through and salsa is fucking great music. Here’s another, New York Haitian records with Hugo Mendez. It’s beautifully curated and and Here’s a third, from Mixanthrope, totally different, all new African pop music totally dope selections throughout: Auto-Tuned Africa Vol3 .

LP, 12”, or 7” format?
Yes and. I’m digging more 7″s lately for all the obvious reasons of portability, fidelity, specificity. But there’s so much great music on the LP format that was never and will never be pressed as a 12″ or 7″ so I definitely dig them hard.

Junk Food You Can’t Live Without:
Garden of Eatin Chili and Lime or Red Hot Blues chips. Also I’ll fuck up a bowl of homemade popcorn.

Most Memorable Gig Played:
The African Beats and Pieces party in Berlin last December. Just an overwhelming amount of love and good energy, from first to last note after dawn. Old-school records to the most contemporary stuff. It was beautiful.

Record That Never Leaves Your Record Box:
For the past year or so, Dadou Pasquet- Cherchez La Vie. A beautiful disco/konpa record that always takes the floor from warm to warmer.

Shout Outs, Last Remarks, and Gig Info:
I’d like to shout out my two crews, firstly Zona Libre with DJ tres dos. We have a regular third Thursday at Mad Tropical but also tons of other one-offs, including Ricardo’s birthday bash August 24th all day at Bier Wax with a huge lineup of all-stars. No te lo pierdas! And Terapia y Verbena with Elkin Pautt, Colombian picó style! Look out for us! I’m honestly just grateful to be doing so much of what I love! I’m a baby at this compared to so many greats here in NYC, so I’m grateful for the opportunities. Thanks to everyone who’s put me on and given me a chance to grow!

Dig Deeper!

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