.DJ Therapy

Friday nights at a new San Jose lounge bring together a tight-knit group of the South Bay's best

TURNTABLE THERAPIST: Raul Montes, a.k.a. DJ Rated R, is part of the collective of rotating DJs who spin at Myth’s Soul Therapy. Photograph by Zeeshan Kerawala

IT WASN’T TOO long ago that the South Bay had a serious shortage of DJs. Or, at least, of DJs that Raul Montes, a.k.a. DJ Rated R, would trust with his reputation.

“There’s so many DJs now. Everybody wants to be a DJ,” he says. “But I remember about six years ago, I was DJing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. There were only a handful of DJs I could trust to say to ‘Hey man, I want a night off, can you cover for me?’ And they couldn’t, because they were playing somewhere else. Sometimes you couldn’t take a night off.”

Now, Friday nights at Myth Taverna and Lounge are bringing together several DJs from that select group for Soul Therapy, one of the most eclectic night of hip-hop, R&B and soul in the local scene. It’s a new event in the sense that Myth has been open only a couple of months, but Soul Therapy was originally started by DJ Nappy for Roux on Santana Row. Besides himself, he brought in a rotating collective that included Montes as well as Goldenchyld, DJ Remedy and Wen Davis. As its reputation grew, it simply got too big for the place. It’s found a new home at Myth, where at least three members of the core group can usually be found spinning at every Soul Therapy event. They also sometimes welcome guests, like Oakland soul singer Goapele this week.

“We already had a good following, and now every single Friday is packed. Last week they had to turn people away,” says Montes.

A longtime DJ on the scene himself, he goes way back with the other Soul Therapy DJs. He met Remedy while working in a record store fresh out of high school. Montes and Nappy were the longest-running DJs at Agenda, originally playing house music between jazz bands on Sundays. And Goldenchyld’s crew the Bangerz have been around for over a decade now. “We all grew up in the same circle of DJs,” says Montes.

The trust he puts in the other DJs comes not only that bond, but also his confidence that he’s working with some of the South Bay’s best. “Soul Therapy, you gotta know the music,” he says. “We know it, because we grew up on it, or somebody else showed us those tracks. I could give somebody the same records, but they’re probably not going to play them the same way, or play them at the right time.”

Soul Therapy’s popularity, Montes believes, comes from the eclectic cuts and quirky flow of the music every night. “On Friday nights, there’s really no other place to go downtown for good hip-hop, R&B, soul. In the front room, we’ll even throw in a little bit of soulful house and some of the flashback stuff. We really don’t get a chance to play stuff like that anywhere else,” he says.

“They’re giving us freedom to go to more places than we maybe could at a regular club in San Jose,” agrees Dominic Cueto, better known as Goldenchyld. “And it seems to be working like crazy. It’s been packed every time.”

“We know how to work the crowd. And the crowd loves it, because they don’t get to hear this anywhere else,” says Montes.

He also appreciates the mix of styles within the Soul Therapy crew. “Goldenchyld and Remedy, they’re awesome when it comes to scratching and things like that. I never got into that, I was just more worried about making sure my mixes are clean,” he admits. “I don’t really get all fancy.”

Montes still DJs at clubs all around the South Bay, as well as at events like the Detox pool parties and a monthly night he started at Club Milano that has blown up far beyond his expectations.

“We’ve been doing that once a month for two years, almost three. We get 600-plus people every single month,” he says. “I can pretty much play everything, but for hip-hop I prefer what we play at Soul Therapy. For house, I like what I play at Cardiff, the deep, soulful stuff.”

What he never learned to like, ironically enough, is his own DJ name. Back when techno and house were huge around here, he and some friends threw a warehouse party off of San Pedro. He didn’t know what to call himself, so they came up with DJ Rated R as a temporary fix.

“I DJed that party, and that night people were saying ‘Hey, we’re having another warehouse party next week, you want to play?’ They ended up using that name on the fliers every time. They never asked me what do you want to put on there. I don’t even really like it. It just stuck.”

DJ RATED R

Soul Therapy, Fridays, 9pm

Myth Taverna and Lounge, San Jose

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