You know that co-worker who has a knack for finding terrible photos that you’ve been tagged in on Facebook before you can take them down, then shares them with the rest of the office? The one who, upon hearing that you’re from New Jersey, speaks to you only in references from The Jersey Shore? And for some unknown reason he also holds a very special place in his heart for Bette Midler?
Meet Jim Bishop. Vice President of Engineering, New York City DJ and office clown, jokester, prankster, and living proof of what an English Degree can do for you…
We asked Katie Smith to find out what inspires Jim to DJ and how he’s kicking butt at Indaba one keyboard stroke at a time.
KATIE: How did you get into developing?
JIM: I was an English major at the University of Texas around 1995. I had an English professor, Dr. Sabrina Barton, that wanted a web site for her “Hitchock and Gender” course [seriously? that's deep.] I was taking that semester. I lied and told her I knew how to make web sites. Later I started a web magazine with my friend, Lane Becker; it was the first college internet web magazine. Got out of college and hit the start up scene in Austin.
KATIE: How did you start with Indaba Music?
JIM: JCN, Indaba Music founder and Señor Developer, and I have been friends since 1999. When Indaba was looking to grow their team, JCN mercifully plucked me from a dirty, dirty marketing firm where I was running all of their technology and selling my soul.
KATIE: If you could describe the dorkDJ experience in 1 short sentence, what would it be?
JIM: It’s probably easier explained by haiku:
Dorks spin while you drink.
“Do you have Lady Gaga?”
NO! We are machine.
BUT if you have to have one sentence:
The night is for dorks, hackers, crackers, phreaks, shoegazers, sweater-clad twee doofuses and indie-pop nerds.
KATIE: How did you get into DJing and what musical genres do you pull from?
JIM: In Texas, I grew up listening to both kinds of music. [country and western] In the 5th grade, my best friend PJ [Indaba's first employee?], gave me a cassette tape with a perfect punk mix on it: Minor Threat, Misfits, Sex Pistols, Agent Orange, Circle Jerks. I’ve been in love with music ever since PJ gave me that tape. DJing is an extension of mixtape culture for me. There are a lot of great DJs out there that make completely new music by mashing songs, samples, beats, and noises together, but I’m more into playing songs that make me and my friends happy. I never learned to play an instrument. I was in Choir and Show Choir all through school.
Katie, stop laughing. Texan men have Choir too…Well, some do.
I was in a band briefly in High School. We rehearsed on my back porch in the country. I wanted us to be REM; our bass player wanted us to be Primus; our drummer wanted us to be Rush; and our guitar player wanted to get laid. Perfect high school band. We had one gig. “We’re the Exploding Kitten Heads!! Hello Alice High School Operation Graduation!!!!”
When I moved to Brooklyn in 2001, my future DJ collaborator, Howard, got me into DJing. He’s a really great DJ, and he told me that if I stuck to digital DJing I could pick it up pretty quickly. I started trying out different DJ software packages, and I got us a gig to force me to learn to use them. It’s fun to play around with. I get to take my love of music and complete lack of musical talent and still be able to do something musical. Drop the digital needle and watch an entire room shift.
Today I mostly DJ indie pop, cuddlecore, and twee because that is what I listen to, and I’m lazy that way. [those may or may not be genres...]
KATIE: Where did the name dorkDJ come from?
JIM: I have two DJ collaborators, Howard “DJ Chunkingxxpress” Shih and Karen “DJ Punkrocklawyer” Sandler, that I DJ with most of the time, and we’re all just good old-fashioned nerds. Howard and I are both computer programmers. Karen has an engineering and a law degree. She uses her law powers for good: free software, open source projects, etc. At our first gig, we did a 30 minute set of songs about robots. In the beginning, we were discussing the merits of different names, and we decided that both “geek” and “nerd” were too trendy. Semantically we are all much closer to “dorks.”
The best thing about being part of dorkDJ is that we usually spend the last few hours in a DJ Battle Royale (which is much closer to Rock’em Sock’em Robots). Howard will play some dance-y, screech-y Bjork b-side Karen and I have NEVER heard, and then I have to follow it or get laughed at by Karen. I don’t like Karen laughing at me. She can always follow any song because her husband wrote her a song about a wiener-mobile.
KATIE: What do you like about Indaba?
JIM: There are so many things I love about Indaba. Let me make this a listicle. [definitely not a word.]
1. Really smart team members. We do an amazing job of hiring really smart people to help build our products. [true]
2. No fear of change. We’re not afraid to strip out 100s of lines of code when we find a better way of doing something.
3. We are the future of music. [and music is the future/present of us]
4. Mantis and the entire community team are always right.
5. Rooftop beers. [awesome]
6. Nate Lew. [vp of partnerships]
your favorite customer service team member