IN THE MIX > BRYAN CRAFT
by Arman Reyes
Otherwise/HotSpots Atlanta Magazine
June 5, 2002

Burkhart's doesn't have the reputation for being a dance club. You'll never pay a heavy cover charge and the bars will probably never sell out of bottled water or Gatorade. What Burkhart's is known for are the antics of Kitty LeClaw, hopping karaoke nights, damn good drinks, and friendly faces. One of Burkhart's best kept secrets is the music on Friday and Saturday nights. It allows people to carry on a conversation, but makes other folks fiend for the dance floor. Allow me to introduce DJ Bryan Craft.

How did you get behind the turntables at Burkhart's?

I used to DJ at Backstreet in Fort Lauderdale. I moved up here because my lover at the time wanted to go to school here. I tried getting a job in clubs here and I could not. This is a very closed town. I would go to places and it would be, "Who do you know? Where [in Atlanta] have you played before?" I would go to auditions when clubs would open up and get denied before I got there. They weren't open auditions. I got the DJ job here [Burkhart's Atlanta] because Palmer, the owner of the club, auditioned the five people that applied by giving us each a night. It wasn't 15 minutes at two o'clock in the afternoon for the management; it was an entire night so he could see how you interacted with the club. And, I got the job.

Where's your source for music?

The vast majority of my music comes from somebody that has clued me in on something. Then there's London; I've been there five times over the past seven months. I go check out the clubs and then I hit the stores. So, I come home with like two, three or four hundred dollars worth of CDs. Granted, I can't do that all the time. It becomes very expensive.

Most DJs are hit by inspiration to start their own careers. Is there anybody in particular that inspired you?

Well, nobody in particular. I was shy.

Being shy inspired you to be a DJ?

I was always shy at bars. It was a hopeless situation. But, nobody rejects the DJ. The DJ is the life of the party. Yet, he's protected. He controls the whole show. I worked at Backstreet in Fort Lauderdale as a doorman. And, from the door, I could see all the way across the huge dance floor to the DJ booth. He was in the spotlight and I just looked up and thought, "I want to do that." I wanted that. I wanted guys to think I'm the shit. Even now, I go to bars and I'm still shy. Here, I'm comfortable. This is my home. It wasn't one DJ, one song, or a phenomenal mix. I just wanted to be the guy everyone adored. But, I can tell you about the first time I was enamored by dance music…

Absolutely.

I walked into Backstreet in Fort Lauderdale and saw Sylvester on stage. He was wearing a platinum blonde wig and a white beaded gown. I remember thinking, "This boy is crazy." After 30 seconds, I didn't care. I just thought he was the man. He had such a presence on stage. He could have been a cult leader.

So, what are your DJ aspirations? Do you hope to release a mixed CD or play out in a different venue anytime soon?

I'm very comfortable here, and I do have my own little following here. But, in the larger context, I'm pretty anonymous. People don't really know me as a DJ. When I was in London, I was meeting DJs, club owners, managers, and just knocking on doors.

But nowhere locally?

No, I'm very tied to this club [Burkhart's]. I think it would be cool to play an event, but not at another club. I would love to play in other towns. You know, like Club One in Savannah, just because.

What's your pet peeve request?

Well, we have a really mixed crowd here at Burkhart's. We get the gay people and their straight friends. It's just a mixed crowd. But the worst is when you get the straight women coming from the bachelorette party and they come in here and you get, "What do you mean you don't have 'It's Raining Men'? This is a gay bar, you have to have 'It's Raining Men'." Hey, have you heard of Dirty Vegas?

Yup, I love that track. Are you going to play it?

Yeah, in just a little bit. Well, what else do you have for me? I'm sure you had a whole list of questions you wanted to know about Bryan Craft.

Now that you mention it: Do you keep up with DJ culture at all? Like, when Abel or Paul Oakenfold comes into town?

Umm, no. Should I? Probably. But I can learn just as much from somebody that isn't as well known. Even if I'm not internationally famous [yet], that doesn't mean I'm not any good, you know? There are a lot of DJs out there that don't get the spotlight but that's ok. It doesn't mean I can't learn a thing or two from them.

Bryan prepares to mix out of Jennifer Lopez's "I'm Real" and then lowers the volume of the monitors.

The downside of not having a dance floor or a cover charge is that people are free to walk out at any time and they do. So you can't go too far in any one direction or another. You can bring it down and you can't go too far. You can bring it up and you can't go too far.

He seemlessly mixes into a remake of Adina Howard's "Freak Like Me."

I gotcha. I can see how that would be kind of difficult if you want to cut loose with your records.

My favorite part of the night is when I can build. Maintaining a tempo is cool, but I love the build. There are songs that start high, but by the time they're done, they're flat. Sometimes, I have to take the headphones off to hear what everyone else hears. I mean, I think I hear what everyone else hears, but I forget that I really don't. Here's Dirty Vegas.

"Days Go By" booms over the speaker system and soon there are a number of people lined up outside the booth asking for the name of the track.

This track always gets the most attention. People always ask me what I'm playing when it comes on.

I hand over a CD single I received that day from Strictly Rhythm. Bryan takes a listen to it on the open CD player.

I like that. We're going to play it in just a second. Now, we're going to go a little bit new, and then a little bit old. I'm going to play the original cause I hate all the remixes…

Soon, the entire bar is lip-synching to Kylie and "Can't Get You Out Of My Head."

She is so huge in the rest of the world. And, all the United States knows is this and "Locomotion." They're already like on her third single off of this album over in England. I really need to do an edit of that song. There's nothing to mix out of really. Ok, let's try this CD you gave me.

He debuts "Trippin'" by Oris J featuring Delsea on Burkhart's sound system before realizing he hasn't heard the track all the way through. The potential of a bad mix is really high.

Hey, do you know how this song ends?

I just got it, so, umm, no.

I guess we'll find out.

Bryan watched as the counter on the mixer indicates less than a minute of the song remained. He then reached over to his CD holder and yanked another CD out of its sleeve. He cued the track and began playing with the numerous knobs until he completed the smoothest of transitions from "Trippin'" into MFF featuring Andrea Martin's "The More I Love You."

That was an impressive mix.

Thanks. I just remembered that the other song you gave me would fit perfectly with this track. So, thanks again.

Actually, thank you for the entertaining night.

2002 Otherwise Atlanta Magazine
included by permission


Daisy Hill Productions.

photography
Tim Wilkerson, Atlanta

 


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HAIR RAISING
from www.realbrighton.com
March 19, 2005

Revenge on a Saturday, reliably fun, busy and great music.

A massive pat on the back should go to the new DJ [Bryan Craft] downstairs, who kept us all bopping away with the expected style of poppy chart tunes but also managed to throw is some fantastic dance floor classics from the last few years.

This had to be one of the best mixes of music I’ve heard downstairs at Revenge on a Saturday for quite some time. Once word spreads around I’m sure that it will soon become just as busy as the now extremely popular Tony B’s room upstairs.

DJ Bryan Craft bryancraft.com London Atlanta Brighton Brian Craft