DJ D-Nice ‘can’t sleep through the night’ during COVID-19 lockdown

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When the soundtrack of the coronavirus crisis is played back years from now, it will be the uplifting sets of DJ D-Nice that capture the musical moment. The Bronx-born spinmaster, 49, has kept the party — and listeners’ spirits — going with his epic, hourslong sessions from “Club Quarantine,” broadcast on Instagram Live every weekend. (He has jumped from 200,000 to 2.2 million followers on the social-media platform.) The DJ, emcee and producer, whose real name is Derrick Jones, moved to downtown Los Angeles last year. He shares how he keeps himself entertained while on lockdown in his two-bedroom apartment.

How is quarantine going for you?

It’s not fun being quarantined alone. But the silver lining of this entire experience has been the ability to share music with the world and change the way people actually listen to music … change the vibration of how we listen. So that’s been a powerful experience.

When you’re doing Club Quarantine, where are you doing it in your apartment?

I have a pretty spacious apartment, so the kitchen is separated by a little island. I set up everything on that island next to the window, so it’s kind of a cross between my kitchen and living room … I just used what I had in my house. My coffee-table books elevate my laptop. I have a Gordon Parks [photography] book over there. It’s, like, this cool, makeshift kind of home studio, but I love the vibe of it. It’s a source of inspiration to people to use what you have during the quarantine and still be creative.

DJ D-Nice sets up his turntables and recording equipment between his kitchen and living room, with windows behind him that have a view of downtown LA.
DJ D-Nice sets up his turntables and recording equipment between his kitchen and living room, with windows behind him that have a view of downtown LA.DJ D-Nice

What’s your day like in quarantine?

My hours are just all over the place. I can’t sleep through the night. I’m constantly thinking about new things to do and ways to still be able to serve and inspire people. That’s why I DJ so often, when I don’t have to. There are people that are home alone, dealing with COVID alone, and being isolated. The music is saving lives.

Where do you get your grub on in the morning?

I sit and have breakfast in the same exact spot where I started Club Quarantine. It’s natural for me. I’ll wake up, I’ll make coffee and sit over in that corner by the window, enjoy the sunshine and the views. I have a pretty nice view of downtown Los Angeles. And then I always look over at the turntables. I’m always itching to just get on and play music. My typical breakfast is usually boiled eggs and oatmeal. And I’ve been eating a lot of fruit lately.

What is the song that you would play for yourself that makes it feel like home to you?

The song that I literally play during every set is an old disco record from Sister Sledge called “Thinking of You.” That’s my Club Quarantine theme song. And the fact that Kathy Sledge is always [tuned into] my Instagram Live with Nile Rodgers from Chic, who actually produced it, makes it even more great. It brings joy to me when I can play that record and they’re listening.

Where else do you listen to music in your apartment?

I only listen to music when I’m playing. I listen to talk radio. I’m a big Howard Stern fan. I’m a big NPR fan. I listen to “All Things Considered.” I like talk radio, because music has been my life for 34 years — producing and touring as a DJ.

Any other routines?

I wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning. I have an 8-year-old daughter, Dylan, who lives in Michigan with her mom. To provide her with something that’s normal, I get up and say hello and good morning on FaceTime. I’ll have a cup of tea or some coffee while she’s having her breakfast. I’m up from then on, so that’s why my sleeping patterns are way out of whack!


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