I first met DJ Stan Zeff through an introduction by Luis Villamizar of Dynamite Entertainment Group. Initially the meeting was to feature Stan and DJ BE on The Ultimate Spotlight CMV, now defunct. Through this meeting and a subsequent interview for the show, I took a liking to Stan's ideas and passion for the now smashing dance party called Tambor.
Tambor is probably thee most engaging and vigorous dance party in Atlanta. Its patrons are from all walks of life, status and station in society. People who go to the the monthly Tambor parties probably will never die from stress. Why? Well, for the two times I've been at Tambor, everyone seems as though they have no cares in the world; it's like the 70's all over again.
Now two years strong, Dj Stan Zeff is taking Tambor on the road and aspire to create a long since remembered house party experience from his days spinning in London.
USL You've been in the business for over 20 years now, lets talk about your transition from starting in London to being in Atlanta djing and the whole conception of Tambor. How has music progressed since the 90's up to now and how can it get better?
Stan I think that's a really good question because the progression of Black dance music depends on the genre. The genres that have really progressed are the hip hop and the R&B and they have always been at the forefront of Black dance music. Back in the 80's, the mid to late 80's, that was always what was prevalent at that time. House music on the other hand was always 2nd or 3rd best and its still pretty much the same today. Although its growing, it has not grown or it's not as widespread as hip hop and R&B, dub set, jungle or any of those other dance genres. It's still very an underground music scene, but it is growing. I call it the new indie music.
USL Hip hop music seems like its a chameleon. It's always looking for something to grab onto to help push or to help motivate it to keep going and I think that is whats going on now. You've got Usher, Neyo, Chris Brown, Jason Durelo and all these music artists that's doing a mixture of dance music with R&B, pop and hip hop. How do you feel about Jason Durelo remake of Robin S's "Show Me Love" hit single from 1993?
Stan I think its good. I think its good because in order to stay successful and stay at the top, you have to be versatile. You have to be able to take other types of influences and add it to your repertoire so that you can keep your crowd and keep your audience captivated. I think its good! I think it's really smart! What I'm actually looking at now, up to this point, is house music in the U.S. has been very much a underground, you put your back-pack on, you drink your water, you're a dancer and its a very closed off type of club. Now, I'm bringing in more influences so that more widespread people who like the music but they don't know how to get into it; it will attract them. I want to do that. We've seen that in this thing now because people are doing remixes of Kem, Usher and Jill Scott's music, they're bringing that into house music as well. So, when people hear it they're like oh okay, that's Jill Scott right. It's Usher. It feels good!
USL We all know that house music and dance music has been around for a long time. In Europe, its huge. It seems like when we talk about music in the United States, the listeners are a little bit closed minded. They're not as educated or not as having free will because I've heard particular sayings and one that really stood out to me was that dance music is gay music. What do you say to ignorant people who makes comments like that?
Stan Well, that's exactly what they are ignorant because their concept of house and dance music is so narrow-minded. I specialize in deep, Afro, Latin house at the Tambor parties. There are gay people at the Tambor Parties. There are lesbian people at the Tambor parties. There are straight people at the Tambor parties and everything in between. That's the beauty of house, everyone comes in and dances and have a good time together whereas you go to a hip hop / R&B club and you don't see as many gay people or whatever. If you go to a gay hip hop/R&B club, there may not be any straight people there. If you come to a Tambor or another house party, gay, straight, lesbian, black, white, tall, fat, thin; everyone is there.
USL Baltimore has its own dance style just like DC, Chicago and New York have there own dance styles. When you get on the dance floor you kind of transcend into something you have no control over and that's why I feel you have to be a different sort of person or personality to be able to appreciate dance music. It's almost like you tap into an energy source that a lot of people don't understand. You know we usually shun away from things we don't understand, can't identify with or we just don't have that swag. It's like dressing, you see the hip-hoppers running around with their pants hanging off their butt and if you don't dress like them, they say you're different. There is a thing as people who are confident within themselves to be able to express their own sense of style without assimilating or needing to get approval from the masses. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be clean, fresh, and look good in your clothes when you step your feet outside your front door and not having your underwear showing! How do you feel about the current fashion trend with young men and how they sag and have their semi-naked butts in your face?
Stan I don't agree with it. I know its the style and I remember when I was 20, maybe I was wearing stuff older people would frown at me for. Back in the day we use to wear skin tight pants (skinnies), but that's totally different than whats going on today. I don't think the sagging does anything for ones demeanor. It's shows a lack of respect. What is that, really?
USL When you get up in the morning and you begin to start your day, what is thee motivation for Stan Zeff to say I have to continue being the element that I am when I'm doing my business?
Stan On a daily basis, my motivation is growth. My motivation is to make that one step more and never to be complacent in what I'm doing or to sit back and say everything is going to be okay. I'm very hard on myself and somewhat of a perfectionist. Everything has to be done a certain way. Nothing is ever perfect cause you're always striving and my strive is to make that extra step, go that extra pinch, that extra mile and reach someone else in the music scene and accomplish something that has never been done before.
USL What is accomplishing something that has never been done before?
Stan It's like creativity. Like with Tambor, I wanna open the flood gates basically so we change the way in which we market and attract different types of people because there are a lot of people who still don't know about house music.
USL How do you educate someone about house music, dance music for them to be in acceptance and comfortable to say you know what I want to come and just see whats going on; feel the energy?
Stan It's really a top down type marketing. It's a pyramid type marketing because if I'm energetic about it and truly believe in it and someone would come to the party, feel that energy, feel that belief and wants that energy and wants that belief then they're gonna go home and they're gonna talk to their best friend about coming to the party. Their friend might say I don't know about house music, but that person who feels that energy and feels that belief is gonna persuade their friends to come to the party. I hear this all the time, "I dragged my best friend or I dragged my girlfriend to come to the Tambor Party" and therefore they come every month. So that energy is like tag, your it. It's like a domino effect in reverse. What happen is that people come up to me and say "I really like the mixes. I like the music. Who do you have next month?" They google the DJ's. They get into the music. It's like building a new genre that they've never known before cause all they thought was in Atlanta was hip hop and R&B music and they're like sitting there bored.
USL One of the things I realize about Atlanta is that even though Atlanta became an international city from the 2006 Olympic, it's still like a small town and I think it could be so much more if the people who are in control would be just a little more open-minded about culture and about fashion. We all know that Atlanta doesn't have a fashion industry. However, the city is very vibrant, and there's always something going on! Why don't we cultivate that?
Stan That's a hot topic. With every Mayor that comes to Atlanta, we sit down and cross our fingers and hope that he has vision and can see the growth in Atlanta. Atlanta is like a city that comes from no other, really. The people here are transplants not only from other cities, but they come from all over the world. You get different types of minds that can come together, grow together and forming ideas and creativity. It's stifled. There aren't stepping stones put in place to allow these people to create that fashion industry or to take their music, art and restaurants to another level. I totally agree with you, we feel stifled here and its a shame!
USL Knowing that the politicians aren't going to do anything, how can we as motivators start to create that change?
Stan I think it's about getting people connected. If you and me wanna make a change and I know a couple of people and you know a couple of people, lets sit down here and lets talk about what we can possibly do and what we can bring to the table that we can use. I know there are people who are doing it now. The old forth ward, that area there, a lot of the owners of different establishments are getting together in regular meetings to see what they can do to get more people to the community; to make it more vibrant and make it thee place.
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USL Let's talk about Tambor. We've been to Tambor a few times now and have enjoyed ourselves emmencely. We have a great time every time we go! How do you choose a particular DJ? Is it through relationships already established or is it because they have a following?
Stan All the above, really! Whatever feels good at the time. What their following is and how well known they are plays a big part. On the other side the majority of the crowd that will come for someone like Timmy Regisford, a legend in deep house, don't really know who he is. However, people will come out because it's Tambor and they know they will have a good time at Tambor. Being known does matter, but I look into what type of vibe they will bring when they DJ. I try to make it as diverse as possible. Like, I brought in Fabio Genito from Italy; great DJ. A little Italian guy; you know people wasn't expecting that. He came and he rocked the house because I know what he can do. So, it's really all the above. It's a comfort factor that I get from the DJ's as well; do I feel they can produce for the night.
USL So, for the readers, what is Tambor? What does it stand for as far as symbolism and why did you start it?
Stan Tambor first of all means drum. It's a drum sounding. It's from the Nigerian yoruba faith and it means drum ceremony. It's where people get together to use the battle drum to call on the Arishias; the African gods. And they would have a drum celebration for someone who is being initiated into the African faith. So, that's what its all based on. I chose Tambor because I thought it fit. Atlanta is a place of so much energy and spirituality that as soon as I pulled the word from reading a book, I knew immediately it would fit. The word just popped out from the book.
Coming from London, I was brought up on parties that was diverse (black, white, Chinese); everyone was there. That's how the house parties were in London and I miss it. Having djayed at that time in Atlanta for about five years already, I noticed it was still segregated to a certain extent. I wanted that big vibe where everyone could go to a party and enjoy themselves. I didn't care what you wore, what you looked like, you could go and dance. So, I wanted to recreate that and Tambor was the platform to do it.
USL What's your legacy now and what do you want to leave after you're done and you say, you know what, I'm not gonna spin another record? What do you want people to remember you by?
Stan Tambor is probably my legacy now and from August 2011, Tambor has traveled to London, Toronto and we're going to Italy and Greece. So, the vibe and energy of Tambor has grown organically and starting out I didn't expect it to grow like that in two years. Still, we have people in Jersey and LA who want Tambor to come to their city. In the future, my legacy would be someone more to do with life and people; someone who accepts everyone and give them a chance. If I were to die tomorrow, my legacy would be a dance party that has been successful in a genre that isn't thought to be successful and bringing new people into the music who has never been exposed to deep house before.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2011 USL Magazine