Justin Gage is living the dream. Not only does he run the web’s (arguably) best music site, Aquarium Drunkard, he also has his own DJ slot on Sirius XMU, runs his own label, makes mixes for the best bars and restaurants around LA, and even recently finished working as music supervisor for the feature film Natural Selection. He also happens to be one of the nicest guys you’ll meet in LA, or any other city for that matter. We met up with Justin at Edendale, his local spot where everyone really does know his name, for a couple of later afternoon beers to chat jukeboxes, LA, and what he has planned for his upcoming LosAngeles/CreativeMornings talk.
How have you been? Anything fun to report?
Well, I DJ’d the Real Estate show at the Echoplex Saturday night, which was a good time. I really like that new album and apparently so did a lot of other people – the place was packed. The crowd was young so it’s always a challenge to try and play them something that’ll get them excited. I know I’ve played a good track when I see a lot of blue screens on iPhones. It means people are Shazaaming the tracks. That’s the modern day equivalent of someone coming up and asking the DJ what the song was or thumbing through the jukebox to see what track #246 is.
Are there still some great jukeboxes out there? How about letting us know your top three jukeboxes in LA?
Yeah, there definitely area. A good jukebox can turn a beer or two after work into a long evening. I still think they’re a big draw for a lot of people. If I had to choose my top three jukeboxes in LA I would say:
1. The Three Clubs. It’s got a great long bar, it’s really dark in there, vibed out, nice old leather-cushioned booths. The jukebox is full of great stuff like The Ramones, old soul and funk records.
2. The Short Stop. It’s one of the first bars I remember going to when I moved to LA about a decade ago. I was excited that they had Fugazi’s “Repeater” on the jukebox. That was one of my high school favorites which I’ve been revisiting lately.
3. El Chavito. It’s right around the corner from me here in Los Feliz and it’s actually downstairs from the restaurant called El Chavo. They’ve always got a great selection and a great happy hour. Definitely worth checking out.
If you had to fill up a jukebox what record stores here in LA would you be stopping at?
1. Of course, Amoeba Music on Sunset, has just about everything you’d ever want to find. It’s as big as a warehouse.
2. Over here on the East Side there’s Vacation Records which is located on Sunset in Silverlake now. They have a great selection and if you’re looking for metal that’s your go to.
3. I have to mention my friend Neil’s shop in Echo Park called Origami Vinyl. They’ve always got a good selection of both old and new. They’re doing constant in-stores in their loft space which are great.
What’s your take on the music scene in LA?
I think there are a lot of similarities between the music scene and the city itself. It’s very spread out. There isn’t one specific scene. You’ve got the downtown more sort of art-rock/noise scene, the Laurel Canyon throw-back ’70s vibe, some great Los Angeles pop having in Silver Lake. There’s lots happening in Long Beach, along the coast and a great garage rock scene. The fact that there isn’t a specific Los Angeles sound speaks to the city itself and how diverse it is between it’s various neighborhoods and niches.
How has being in LA helped you to grow your blog, Aquarium Drunkard, and your career for that matter?
I think LA is a great place if you’re doing thing within the “creative world.” It’s really diverse, there’s a lot happening and you can really network with like-minded souls whether it’s film, music or visual arts. All these people want to help you further your vision and there is room for lots of collaboration. For me that’s been huge help and inspiration.
Can you tell us what you’ve got planned for your CreativeMornings talk? It’s going to be a little different than usual, right?
Yeah, I liked the idea of answering questions more than presenting so it’s going to be more of an interview with an enhanced Question and Answer portion. I’ll still be covering the things I assume people are hoping to hear about, including: how I ended up in LA, the past/present/future of Aquarium Drunkard, the radio show, Autumn Tone Records, working on films, and everything else in between. One of my Autumn Tone artists, Frankel, is going to come by and play a song and we’ll be showing a clip from the movie I recently worked on. I’ll also be making a special morning-centric mix which we’ll have playing on Friday and guests will all get a download link.
Any big Thanksgiving plans? Are you staying local or heading back to Atlanta?
Actually, my wife and I are riding the rails. We’re taking the train all the way from LA to Seattle. It’s a 36 hours on Amtrak. We’ve booked a sleeper car and we’re looking forward to a little adventure all the way up the Coast. We’re going to stay in Portland on the way back for a couple days and I’m looking forward to checking that town out.