Besties: DJ Brian Maier
Our Bestie DJ is the adorable Brian Maier, who chatted after his photo shoot at the 440. His boyfriend Kyle Krebs hung out nearby, friends greeted him, and despite the fact that he doesn't drink beer, he affably posed with a glassful.
Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Maier moved to San Francisco almost nine years ago. "I DJed at some of the underground clubs, but at that point I was still underage, so it was kind of tough to find the connections to do that sort of thing. But house parties, raves; I would find myself DJing at those until the wee hours of the morning."
The first local gig for the 28-year-old was with Brian Hughes at The Stud. "We had a really good turnout, and it encouraged me to see more nightlife opportunities here. I was still coming into my own as a DJ as far as my sound. I knew there were a lot of directions to take it."
Technologies have changed, and Maier has adapted to them.
"When I started, it was still all vinyl, back when DJs had to adjust sliders on Technics turntables, just so they could find the right hitch, so that when they did the mix, it wasn't all jostled. Now, it's so different," said Maier. "I recently taught someone DJ basics in a night. Because it's all digital and you can use a controller, you can auto-synch everything, which takes some of the skill out of it."
He mentioned the Honey Soundsystem crew and DJ Bus Station among those who are either "vinyl purists" or those who mix technologies.
"Part of the fun and craft of DJing is storytelling, and you really can't teach someone how to do that," said Maier. "It's something you have to inherently know. I've felt fortunate that the mixes that I make take people on journeys."
Recently part of the four-man Rocket Collective (with Mat dos Santos, David Sternesky and Trevor Sigler), Maier and his colleagues have, since last year, each gone on to new gigs and sounds stemming from their nights playing at Burning Man, and many local and regional events.
"Because there were four of us, we would rotate through each night," said Maier. "One month I would open or close. We knew when peak hour was, but we would strategically pattern our sets to take people on journeys. You know that right around eleven o'clock, at least here in San Francisco, that's when people will 'peak' and want to pick up the tempo."
Maier mentioned their different connections within the community and how they've branched out. Maier's recent gigs include parties in Vancouver's Ruff, and in Seattle with Dickslap.
"In Portland, I DJed at Bridge Club, and SuperFun, which was great," he added. "It was a daytime outdoor event, so people were more open and positive."
As we discussed variations in gay dance events - bear events, circuit events and even circuit bears - Maier had to laugh and stop for a moment. He then decided to clarify his thoughts on what is known as 'circuit music.'
"I grew up with DJs Sasha, John Digweed, Sander Klienenberg, which not a lot of people know, but they are DJs who don't have to throw everything but the kitchen sink at the audience," said Maier. "With some progressive house artists, it's like there are sirens going off. I just need a good groove, some catchy lyrics and some good community. I really enjoy the circuit scene. But I find that the music I choose is not circuit music."
Tech House, Deep House, Techno and Indie Dance are his own descriptive phrases on his website. But perhaps such terms limit the fun, bouncy and warm, and sometimes sultry feeling of Maier's mixes.
"I try to find tracks that people are familiar with, but I don't try to make it so pop-centric that people feel like they just turned on the radio," he said. "If I throw on a Kylie Minogue track, it would have to be some odd dub track that takes the song a little further. So when people on the dance floor recognize it, you can see the dance floor light up. And that is part of the storytelling that's fun."
With the online magazine "Mascular" (the project of the UK-based Vincent Keith), Maier has created sound mixes that correspond with each issue's themes.
Mair explained: "Vincent needed a platform to bring his art into the world, but also realized that there are many other artists and photographers who wanted the same thing, and this collaboration would be a greater way to share their work. He contacted me, saying that he loved my work for a long time, and that he wanted sound to be a part of it.
"Typically what happens after one of the quarterly issues is published, he tells me what the next quarter's theme is...Liquid, or Fetish. A few weeks before it's published, I work away at home and try to assemble a mix that represents that theme. It's not as simple as throwing songs together," Maier added of his short essays in each issue that compliment the sounds. "It's a way for me to write freeform about some of the passion that I have."
Maier's mixes blend new and vintage sounds with a dexterity that he said make some fans ask how old he really is.
"I have been following dance music for a really long time," Maier explained. "DJs get stereotyped. 'You need to look this way, perform this way, play this kind of music.' But the DJs who stand out are those who identify with the music and the community; that's the driving force behind their success."
Not only is Maier a DJ, but his prior work for Apple, Intuit, and currently LinkedIn, make him one of those nice techies. Yes, there are such people.
Having spun for more than a dozen years, Maier is also aware of the financialy reality of the profession.
"Because I work, I've actually turned down gigs that didn't seem exciting, fun or innovative, or with any community I'm affiliated with. Some potential hosts will say, 'We want to fly you here, and we want you to DJ, but we're only gonna pay you X amount.' Well, that would require me to take days off of work, which costs more, so it doesn't happen. My time with Kyle is precious, so I'm selective."
And he offered a bit of financial advice for aspiring spin doctors. "My day job definitely funds my DJing. If you're getting into DJing for the money, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. It's not lucrative. If your passions are not there, you probably won't last," Maier said. "My best friend in Atlanta taught me how to DJ, so for me, it's always about bonding with my friends."
When he's not working with computers or music, Maier has become a part-time model as well. Peter Pappas of the Blade & Blue clothing line included Maier and Krebs in a fashion shoot at The Harvey Milk School, along with Mike Enders of the fun sexy website Accidental Bear, and other pals.
"We shot photos at the school, and decided that it would be great to give money back to them. It's part of our heritage, so why not?" A portion of the clothing sales's profits are donated to the school.
The snappy colorful clothes have suited Maier's own style, which he said is evolving.
Yet some may know of his photos with less clothing, or none at all. Maier has posed nude, but in some cases, not originally for the public eye.
"I don't personally identify as a nudist," he explained. "But, some of my nude photos have made their way online, and that's actually an interesting story about Skruff and what happens when you trust somebody with your pictures," he said wryly. "It's funny when people say, 'Oh, you're a DJ, too?' I'm like, 'Well, I wasn't selling the other thing, but it's nice that you found that first.' "
Along with a few shirtless selfie tweets and Instagram posts, Maier shares his extensive workout tips, and is aware of his status as a local sex symbol as well as a DJ.
"I'm not ashamed of my body, he said. "I don't try to hide away from the photos. It's already happened. So at this point, why not embrace it? I don't have anything to hide."
But before you swoop in, notice the ring. Maier is engaged to his equally adorable partner Kyle Krebs. Their lives are pretty much inseparable these days.
"Now," said Maier, "part of my lifestyle is waking up at five in the morning to go to the gym with my husband."
With no wedding date yet, another question might be, who will be the wedding party DJ?
Brian Maier's upcoming gigs include DJing along with Billy Lace at I Just Wanna Fuckin' Dance at Beatbox on April 19; in San Diego with The Instigators for a '70s pool party, and he'll be spinning in Vancouver for their Pride dance events.
For more info, visit www.djbrianmaier.com