Zion I's Amp Live steps into the solo album spotlight

Local DJ Amp Live mines the Bay area for guest talent on his futuristic tracks
Photo courtesy of Yonas Media

It's hard to think of a Bay hip hop DJ with a more diverse footprint than Amp Live. Rising to prominence as the mixing half of duo Zion I, he's since spread his futuristic tinkerings through tracks featuring Goapele, Too Short, Charlie 2na, and Del the Funky Homosapien. More recently, he funked up Radiohead's In Rainbows – dubbing his new vision Rainydayz Remixes, and releasing it to the public before, well, really clearing it with the music's progenitors. In exchange for his hip hop creativity, he received a cease and desist order from the band. Luckily, their camps found a way to talk it out, and Radiohead eventually gave Amp Live the go ahead to offer up the project, which you can still find on his Myspace page as a free download (he also issued a creative, yet heartfelt apology for his role in the conflict).

We caught up with Amp Live via email on his Mexico vacation – where he's no doubt “amping” (ha!) up for his CD release party this weekend (Shattuck Down Low, Sat/19). You might recognize some of the other cats that will be onstage; Amp Live's graciously sharing the playbill with Kev Choice, Deuce Eclipse, Trackademicks -- and Zion I will take over as the headliner. 

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San Francisco Bay Guardian: You've said in the past that you've been looking at adding more “live music” performance on stage to your DJ sets. Can you explain what you are looking at with that?

Amp Live: I think live [music] is very important in creating a good show. During my production set, I create music on the spot using live video and visuals, and will also feature other musicians. 


SFBG: What kind of unique resources did you find coming up as a musician in the Bay? Besides your music, is there any one artist today that you think speaks most eloquently about what it's like to live out here?

AL: There is definitely a large amount of accomplished and talented musicians in the Bay Area. So many tight drummers, keyboardist, horn players, singer, etc. That makes it easy in collaborations and studio work. I like what comes from the DJ Shadow camp. I think he captures the vibe out here pretty well. Also, like what Traxamillion is doing. 


SFBG: Your DJing, and general work as an artist, make it clear that you've got very deep skills when it comes to technology. Where do you think you would have wound up if it hadn't been for music? 

AL: Well, I graduated from college with a bachelor's in science. I was going to go to medical school basically, and be a cardiologist. 


SFBG: What ways will the Amp Live solo shows differ from the performances you've done as part of Zion I?

AL: The main difference is that it is mostly me on stage, so it's all eyes on what I am doing. I have to keep the crowd engaged. 


Sat/19 9 p.m., $15-20

Shattuck Down Low

2284 Shattuck, Berkeley

(510) 548-1159