Samantha Garrett's visibility is all over the Austin music map. The guitarist and singer for Austin band Whiite Walls, Garrett, or Cap'n Tits, as she is known in her other musical pursuit, enjoys being a rare breed: a queer, female DJ in ATX.
In the lead-up to my moving here I was informed, repeatedly, that Austin is the ™. That tagline was beaten into me by everyone I knew with an opinion about Austin. Turns out, a lot of people have opinions about Austin. Also turns out, that every bar, club, and grocery store in this town does have a concert or show some night of the week.
In a city notorious for its live music, the fact remains: It's the DJs that make the dance parties happen. That's why I'm starting this special column. Over the next few months, we'll explore Austin’s queer DJ culture.
Learn about them here, dance to them out there.
In the summer of 2007, after graduating from UT, Garrett realized her true calling in life was making people dance. Before Spotify and Pandora, Garrett remembers her obsession with making playlists and mixed CDs for parties. Her love of supplying the music paired with her dance music obsession led Garrett to, what she calls, 'a no-brainer decision.' "I needed to get into DJing.”
It’s been nearly seven years since Garrett brought home her first set of turntables. A self-described snob, Garrett DJ’s mostly vinyl sets, with the occasional CDJ (for CDs) thrown in once in a while. Though she learned the initial stages of DJing on a computer, she prefers to not use them. “My philosophy is, you shouldn’t have to be staring at something while you’re DJing music.”
With an ear for underground music, specifically deep, soulful house and disco (“but not a lot of boogie disco,” she says), Garrett’s sound is aimed at people who want to lose themselves in the music. “I like stuff that always sounds a bit darker and moodier. I don’t want people coming in looking for ‘Pony’ and Rihanna songs,” she states. As a DJ who really crafts her set-lists it’s understandable that she wants an audience to appreciate it.
The Houston native credits her internship with Learning Secrets, Austin’s 10 year-old monthly dance party – notorious for guest DJs – for giving her a lot of exposure early on. But sparks really flew in 2010 when she met her musical soulmate, Mike Zawodniak (Mike Z for short) of Austin’s DJ Crew, Flying Turns. They’ve been partners-in-DJing-Crime ever since under the name Deep Cuts.
While Garrett loves a good queer crowd, she doesn’t limit herself to playing gay-only parties. She does admit that despite the frustrations of operating within a traditional boys' club system – one that often makes women and queers feel “almost invisible” – she loves it. “When I DJ with Mike – a straight white dude – it’s almost like gender blindness,” she explains. “As long as every one’s down to party, it’s all good.”
And so it comes as no surprise that Cheer Up Charlie’s has always been one of Garrett’s most cherished venues to DJ. Though not specifically a gay bar, CUC has queer roots, and more often than not, the crowd is devoid of Austin’s bro contingent. (Or perhaps some Austin bros are less… "bro"-y?)
Garrett has been a bit M.I.A. from the dance scene as of late. Her suit-and-tie 9-5 at a CPA Firm, along with band obligations (yes, even Austin’s DJs don’t stray far from the live music scene) have eaten up her time. That ends this week.
Garrett takes a spin at this Friday’s LOVEBOMB!. Cap'n Tits is one of several DJs on deck for the queer love dance party “explosion.” The Valentine’s Day event is the official fundraiser for Austin’s annual QUEERBOMB in June.
Get a feel for Cap'n Tits and a quick sneak-peek at her favorite songs before her Friday night set, midnight-1am. “Hello” by Axel Bowman, “Knowing We’ll Be Here” by Daniel Avery, “Grind” by Les Sins (Toro y Moi’s side project), and “Shuga” by Combo. Or check out Garrett's Soundcloud.
LOVEBOMB happens Fri., Feb. 14, 9pm-2am. $5-10 donation.
Copyright © 2016 Austin Chronicle Corporation. All rights reserved.