Checking In: DJ Mel Saw the Writing on the Wall
Obama-endorsed candidate for best local spinner set the curve
By Raoul Hernandez,
10:10AM, Tue. Aug. 4, 2020
What Mel Cavaricci represents to ATX DJs, Stevie Ray Vaughan once meant to guitar freaks worldwide: Best known – maybe only known – and thus a local embodiment far beyond our borders. Naturally, a tuning fork is rarely ever caught unaware. “I started the Living Room Dance Party in March and it took off,” writes in the UT Men’s Basketball spinderella.
Austin Chronicle: Where are you sheltering and under what circumstances? Who else is there and how’s that going?
DJ Mel: I’ve been in quarantine in my home in South Austin since March 9. I am here with my dog, Jack. Overall, it’s been good. When I am not working, I am usually at the house being a homebody, so staying at home is not too much of a problem.
AC: At what point did C-19 shut down operations for you, and what went down with the ship, so to speak, both personally & professionally?
DJM: Fortunately, the last UT Men’s Basketball home game was on March 7, so the timing was perfect on that. However, SXSW was soon after and a significant amount of gigs and income disappeared with the [festival’s] cancellation. What ensued in the months after was a house of cards collapsing with festival plays, private events, and shows being postponed and eventually cancelling.
Personally, the social component of my work is important, so not being around my colleagues and clients is a bummer.
AC: As a global culture, people employ music for every purpose imaginable, obviously spanning religion to entertainment and everything in between. What happens to communities like ours when people can no longer access it in person?
DJM: As a community, it forces us to be creative and to think outside of the box. This pandemic has highlighted that nothing is static and we cannot change change, but we can change ourselves. So whether it’s doing things virtually or finessing our way through this situation, it opens a window to new levels of creativity. When we reach the other side, our community will be stronger and wiser.
AC: Everyone’s had to shift or drastically alter their work situation. What does that look like for you?
DJM: I went virtual. I was already DJing online for months prior to the pandemic, so I was all ready to go. I started the Living Room Dance Party in March and it took off.
There was a lot of trial and error. I’ve learned so much since the beginning. I saw the writing on the wall and I doubled down on DJing virtually, investing in equipment and other things to have a presentable show.
I’m glad I made the choice to do this, because this looks like our reality for the unforeseeable future. I am grateful to have created a platform where I can be creative, spotlight charities, and provide folks a brief respite from the pandemic. It’s been a rewarding experience.
AC: What’s your soundtrack for the apocalypse and what role does music play for you as a fan and scholar of it in times of hardship?
DJM: During hard times, I’ve always leaned really hard on music. For better or worse, in a Rob Gordon kind of way. My current rotation is a combination of childhood favorites and new discoveries, from New Order to Girls of the Internet, to Scientist segueing to Sault.
I’m all over the place. I will say though, my dog is partial to dancehall reggae. Music heals and it’s everything.
Check out the entire Checking In series.