.South Bay Electronic Music Festival Unites The Scene

It’s not always easy mentoring a DJ. John Fowler, a respected turntablist in the South Bay for two decades, got lucky, as his understudy learns fast. But there are certain technological changes that have created a generation gap—for instance, the way computer programs like Virtual DJ have created a reliance on eyes over ears among young DJs.
“One of the difficult things I’m finding is teaching him to beatmatch aurally, as opposed to visually,” says Fowler. “It’s a visual beatmatch now.”
Did I say young? They don’t come any younger—Fowler’s understudy is 11 years old. He’s also Fowler’s son. In fact, he was named after Fowler’s DJ handle, “Justin Hale.” The younger Fowler now goes by Lil Justin. Both father and son will be spinning at the second annual South Bay Electronic Music Festival in Los Gatos on July 15. Justin Hale will be spinning on one stage, along with headliner Rick Preston, and a slew of other mostly local DJs, including DFunkt, Robbie Durham, Alonso Ordonez, J-Funk and Wona. Lil Justin will spin his own 30-minute set on another stage, which will also feature headliner Ernesto Cruz, Smizzle, Gabriel Black, Audio Dru, DJ Peak, B Rich and D Leikam.
What’s even more remarkable about Lil Justin’s story is that he already has two years of DJ experience under his belt. It started with dancing, popping and locking while his dad DJed. First he was into the electro-house sound.
“Then one day he found dubstep. He never looked back. It was bass music all the way,” says Fowler. “He was 9. That’s when he first wanted to DJ.”
Lil Justin made his public debut in 2010, at a party on a boat—not exactly how most grade-schoolers are spending their summer vacations. He picked and mixed all the tracks himself; the footage is on YouTube, and even then, he wasn’t too bad. It’s kind of ironic when Bassnectar’s “Bass Head” comes in three minutes or so in—to Lil Justin, Lorin Ashton is one of the most iconic DJs of his generation. To John Fowler, he’s a guy he used to bump into at the Cactus Club 15 years ago.


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