Creating The SoundTrack For The Winter Olympics : An Interview with Sochi’s PSX Resident DJ

Posted by on February 13, 2014


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Earlier today the United States swept the Men’s skiing slopestyle event and thanks to the sounds provided by Mike Nakagawa, the mountain’s vibe was described more like spring break than the Winter Olympics. Mike, who goes by DJ Naka G,  creates the soundtrack  to the extreme course where riders life-long dreams are either made or broken… no pressure. We were lucky enough to catch up DJ Naka G earlier today:

FNT: Now that another day of DJ’ing  is done and you have some time to relax, how do you chill out? What do you listen to? 

Well since the Americans just swept the ski slopestyle event I just DJ’d, I might just have to listen to James Brown’s “Living in America.” Really though, when I’m just chilling out, I listen to everything from dub reggae, Pretty Lights, classic rock and 90s hip-hop.

FNT: Slopestyle Gold Medalist Jamie Anderson says that the Tinder dating app is next level in the Olympic Village. Are you on Tinder? Have any good stories about that? 

I think that was actually Possum Torr who said that. She and I had a good laugh about it the other night, because some news outlets claimed that she was “desperate” for love in the athlete’s village, and was bummed because she didn’t have any Tinder matches. Anyway, I’m not on Tinder since I’m married, but I just found out about it from some of my younger friends who are. It’s probably a good thing that it wasn’t around when I was young and single!

FNT: You’ve been a resident DJ in the X-Games circuit for years now. Are these your first Olympics? How did you get into this gig? 

These are actually my second Winter Olympic games. My first were 4 years ago in Vancouver. I was brought along by some really good people who gave me a chance at working X Games and other similar action sport events. Being that I’m an Aspen, CO native, I joined the X Games the second year they were there. I was given a chance at the Olympics  because of the amount of time I’ve spent DJing the halfpipe, slopestyle and skier and boardercross events that eventually made it into the Games.

FNT: What are some major differences between playing an X-Games event and the Sochi Olympics?

The equipment is exactly the same. They provide 2 CDJ2000s and a DJM-900 mixer, I provide and use Serato. There’s definitely a lot more protocol with the Olympics. We’re required to play more instrumental tracks so that lyrics don’t collide with the amount of announcing going on. We are also required to play the music for ceremonies and anthems if the event includes them. With X Games, it’s more open format and athlete requests, and the music can have lyrics. The sound is typically a very heavy concert sound system.

FNT: The Olympic committee gave you a hard drive of 4,600 songs, does it have a nice variety of good music? Or do they seem a bit out-dated or even censored.

The music always has to be censored in both X Games and the Olympics. The library they provide is very diverse. There are a lot of recent top 40 hits, older hits as well. Rock, punk, house, reggae and EDM. There are a lot of “stings” and “bumpers,” that are basically cut down versions of songs that are instrumental. We were also provided popular Russian music this time, they sound like electro remixes of their top 40 songs. The library provided was sort of a collective of music from a few NHL and NBA DJs, with a few songs thrown in by yours truly. There are almost 4,000 songs in the library, so it’d be a long list to provide, but here are a few songs I have played in my venue:

   1. Mark Ronson & The Business Intl. – Bang Bang Bang feat. Q Tip & MNDR (Instrumental)
   2. Mobb Deep – Shook Ones Pt. 2 (Instrumental) requested by skier Bobby Brown
   3. Sub Focus – Rock It (Used for athlete intros and build up)
   4. gLAdiator – Danger Zone (Used for Norwegian Skier Oystein Braaten’s run)
   5. Rage Against The Machine – Bulls on Parade (instrumental) Played during Gus Kenworthy’s run

FNT: What are some interesting requests you’ve had from the Athletes? Has anyone requested Free-Bird?

Hahaha… no Free Bird here. Or YMCA for that matter. The good thing is our producer prefers we don’t play anything cliche or super cheesy. I did get a request from, Japanese snowboarder and silver medalist, Ayumu Hirano for N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton. I thought that was pretty funny, but unfortunately, we couldn’t play it.

FNT:We’ve heard some horror stories about yellow drinking water, we saw what happened to the hotel door that wouldn’t open and we witnessed the bumpy conditions of the half-pipe that may have cost Shaun White a gold medal. Have you experienced any other sub-par situations first hand?

No horror stories from me. The Russians have all been very helpful, the ones I work with are all educated, well traveled, well spoken and hard working. Sometimes things may get lost in translation, but that comes with the territory. I think the only thing I’ve had a little trouble with is figuring out what’s what, when I’m buying groceries. We thought we bought butter, but it ended up being cream cheese. That, and since I cannot read, speak or write in Russian, I don’t know what to order on a menu that’s written and printed all in Russian. I can say “hello,” “thank you”, “good night”, “beer” and Matryoshka, which is the big, chubby Russian doll that stands as one of the features in the slopestyle course.

FNT: What’s been the coolest Olympic event you’ve played so far? -no pun intended- Has anyone asked you to DJ the Curling event?

Probably the one I just did today, men’s ski slopestyle. It’s one of my favorites in X Games, it was the very first time it was an Olympic event and the Americans swept the podium. All the other events I’ve done have been amazing as well, but I haven’t been asked to do curling. I’m only doing the events at the Extreme Park venue, so there’s ski and snowboard halfpipe, ski slopestyle, ski moguls, ski aerials and snowboard slalom and parallel giant slalom.

FNT: Thanks for your time! Any parting words?

Yes, never let anyone tell you that you can’t make a career out of something you love. I’m just a boy from the mountains of Colorado, who loves everything from the culture of snowboarding and skiing and the music that comes along with it. DJ’ing is a passion of mine that has lead me to some amazing places, that I’d never thought I’d visit and I’ve been lucky enough to somehow turn it into my career. It’s been an awesome 18 year journey behind the turntables.

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