A Rising Star: DJ Joe Pacheco Takes over ICON

Interview by Daniel Blair

Pride month is over but summer has just started. Cecil Russell is bringing you the hottest party of Independence Day Weekend with ICON: The Tea. This Pride recovery T-Dance is going to be the highlight of your summer.

Superstar DJ Joe Pacheco is set to run the T-Dance all night long. Pacheco takes over Audio in San Francisco on July 7, 6-12am with an array of lasers, lights and hot go-gos!

Before the ICONic DJ makes his San Francisco stop, Gloss talked with Pacheco about his career, his love for Nina Flowers and why he always wears a suit when he spins.

We’ve been seeing you all over for a hot minute now, how long have you been DJing? 

I started DJing back in 2015.  

In your opinion, what gives a DJ the title of  “circuit DJ” vs just a DJ? 

Distinguishing between “circuit” and open format DJing is honestly just a matter of marketing strategy. It’s just a simple way of distinguishing what kind of sound you play. When you’re a “circuit DJ,” it generally means you play a combination of genres of house predominantly progressive and tribal house.

What got you into this? Who did you first see/hear that made the wig go off and be like “I want to do this”?

I started pursuing this because of a trip to Miami in 2015; it was my best friend’s birthday weekend and also my first time in Miami. We had gone out Sunday night of Labor Day Weekend to Urge with Paulo and Jackinsky, and I was just blown away by every aspect of the event. I knew then and there that I wanted to pursue this.

I imagine like every artist, there’s inspiration behind your work, where does that come from for you?

When it comes to my music, I’m always striving to keep my listeners “on their toes.” As a DJ, I never want to be accused of being predictable, so I’m always brainstorming new ways to surprise people with the unexpected because I want them to have a fun time on my dance floors and also leave with a memorable experience they can talk about 15 years from now. Also, I don’t personally like labels or limiting my sound to one area; I let my sound evolve organically so I can be able to deliver a well-rounded musical experience.

Every time we see you spinning, your wearing a suit. I can only imagine how blazing hot it is behind the booth and behind that coat, but why the suit? And how many do you own exactly, and do you have a favorite suit? 

It gets incredibly hot every time, but at least I look good! I decided to start wearing suits at all my parties just because I knew how much it would go against the grain from what you see in the scene. I also do it to send the message that you don’t have to follow the norm to fit in. Even to this day, as much as I love the music and the parties, I still sometimes feel like an outcast because I don’t have the ideal body, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that way, so I use DJing as a platform to show everyone that you’re entitled and deserve to be yourself unapologetically. 

As far as how many suits, I can’t tell you at this point. I’ve gotten a little trigger happy finding suits in wild colors. Although I will say, I find myself cycling through the same 3 looks, so it may be time to update the closet!

I’m sure this has been a long journey for you, but what is one piece of advice you were given along this journey that has helped you to this day? What is once piece of advice you could offer your fellow DJs who aren’t quite where they want to be yet, or who are just starting out?

Always focus on how you can be different, not how you can be better. People love authenticity and novelty, so as a DJ, we have to challenge ourselves to stand out of a very competitive crowd.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ+ icon? 

Nina Flowers is honestly one of my favorites because she is possibly one of the sweetest and uplifting people I have ever met. Nina is force to be reckoned with behind the booth, and yet one of the humblest and most inspiring people. Nina also has been able to establish herself as an icon in industry with her own unique brand and image. I admire that very much, and it’s role models like this that will encourage and build a strong sense of community and individuality.

Where was your first big gig and how did it feel being behind the decks that first time? 

My first big gig was PowerVers at Schimanski; it was an incredible experience because it was the first time I was hearing my sound on a powerful sound system. There’s just something about feeling the vibrations of your music through you that really just makes you go, “Wow, I’m really doing this.”

Who haven’t you played with yet that you’d love to share the stage with? 

I actually have never gotten the chance to spin with Isaac Escalante. I love his sound, and I really appreciate the experimental things he does with his sets, and I feel that both our sounds together would offer a dynamic musical experience for the party goers.

Pride month is in full swing. How do you showcase your own pride?  

I put up a pride set every year to celebrate, but I’m usually exhausted from working pride weekend, so I don’t really do much celebrating. Maybe a sensible boozy brunch with my best friends, but that may be about it.

What song do you never get tired of spinning?

Literally anything Cardi B. 

What’s your after gig ritual? Do you go find another party and go dancing or do you put on your slippers and watch Netflix?

I generally peel my suit off at the end of the night, and figure out if there is any after party at a friends place. I always like to socialize with the people that were at my events because I love to get to know who I’m DJing for. It’s important for me to have this connection because it helps me understand what it is they want to hear. 

Tell us about the flan?

It all started as stupid joke on Facebook actually. Facebook had this question section where you could answer questions publicly and they would post on your wall for your friends to see, so I thought it would be funny to answer all my questions with the flan emoji. I also do love to eat flan, and so I thought it’d be funny to showcase this healthy obsession with flan, and for some reason it caught on. It became so much of a thing that I even designed a fan and drawstring bag with Wear It Apparel with a flan graphic. It just all goes back to my heritage of being Dominican and Puerto Rican and being proud of it. 

What is your favorite element about a party, as the entertainment or the patron?

My favorite element about the party will always be the energy of the crowd; it’s something that you can sense very easily, and it often shapes your experience of the night quickly.

Have you always lived in New York? Where are you from? 

I’m actually a Native New Yorker; I grew up and currently live in Washington Heights. 

Any upcoming gigs you’re looking forward to? 

I’m really looking forward to World Pride and also Icon. I’m beyond excited to be able to spin in Stage48 for World Pride because it was the place where I first met my best friends. I’m also excited for Icon because it’ll be my first time doing a tea dance by myself. I can’t wait to use some great tea dance tracks that I’ve found but never had an opportunity to play live. I also loved the energy of San Francisco the first time I went, so I can ‘t wait to experience that again.

ICON: The Tea

July 7, 2019 // 6pm-12am

Audio // 316 11th Street

Tickets at glosspresents.com