DJ Johnny Basil
“Costa Mesa’s turntable sensation DJ Johnny Basil kicked off the night and played a wholly rump shakin’ set featuring a bunch of his favorite 45’s. Looking like Iggy Pop, Basil wore no shirt, sunglasses, tight pants, and had his belt buckle fastened to nearly its last link; complete and utter absurdity coupled with a wicked sense of humor.” – SF Weekly
Star Sign: Pisces
Born March 7. The 66th day of the solar year. The 67th day of the leap year.
Music: Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, John & Alice Coltrane, Keith Jarrett, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Fela Kuti, Funkadelic, Pat Martino, Lenny Breau, Grant Green, Melvin Sparks, Ivan Boogaloo Joe Jones, George Benson, Gary Bartz, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Jack DeJonette, John Mclaughlin, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Joseph Schillinger, Chopin, Ravel, Terry Riley, Arnold Schoenberg, Ash RaKlaus Schulze, Kraftwerk, Dzyan, Volker Kriegel, Wolfgang Dauner, Ennio Morricone, Piero Umiliani, Franco Micalizi….
Excerpt from OC Weekly feature….
Everyone who knows Johnny Basil pretty much says the same thing: “One of the heaviest cats I know. You should see his record collection. Awesome.” Color me intrigued (and jealous; I’ve seen it).
I first encountered Basil by chance at the Costa Mesa Memphis Café in April. He was spinning one of his too-infrequent DJ sets during the Abstract Workshop. But his set was unlike any I’d ever heard there, or anywhere. Basil was laying down strange, beautiful, rarefied prog rock; spacey, alien electronic pieces from the ’70s; groovy, quirky library music; and the odd Herbie Mann cut, just to keep things a bit … grounded. I soon started trainspotting and asking questions. I discovered in Johnny Basil a real-deal, underground-culture guru.
The tall, longhaired, Italian-American 40-year-old strikes a heroic figure in person. But Basil is humble almost to a fault and not prone to self-promotion. Living in relative anonymity, he works part-time at Costa Mesa’s excellent Ubiquity Records, filling orders in the warehouse and curating the label owners’ huge vinyl stash. He’s also been taking courses in 3-D computer design and serves as a consultant for Los Angeles vintage boutique Tabloid and the L.A. Record free weekly. He creates music that’s as intricately detailed and surreal as the finest Dalí paintings. And, as noted, Basil occasionally DJs.
While Basil claims his influences largely lie outside music, as a youth he loved Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page and Frank Zappa. “Miles Davis showed me the way as far as attitude and exploring with a menacing quality,” he says. “I love the tension, darkness and the grooviness of Funkadelic.” Other factors that shaped Basil’s aesthetics include such avant-garde composers as Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Subotnick and Tod Dockstader; guitarist Lenny Breau; and soundtracks to “groovy films” and giallos (bizarre Italian horror flicks).