15 Minutes with DJ White Shadow, aka Paul Blair
Status: Married with 16-month-old twin boys
Maybe you've caught one of his current weekly gigs, Thursdays at Manor and Sundays at Rockwell Lounge. Or maybe you saw him back when he held residencies at Le Passage and The Underground. Maybe, if you're lucky, you've heard his hip-hop/old-school mash-ups at exclusive parties hosted by the likes of Gen Art[link: genart.org] and Fall Out Boy's Pete Wentz. Or maybe you've just seen his mug splashed across party-pic Web sites. Chicago's Paul Blair, better known as DJ White Shadow, has played practically everywhere, including L.A., Atlanta, Milwaukee, Las Vegas, and New York.
His tour schedule is a long way from collecting eggs on the Ohio farm where he grew up. But in fifth grade, in what turned out to be a pivotal move for the budding music aficionado, the Blair family relocated to Detroit. "Detroit is a very music-oriented city," Blair says. "The DJs are incredible, and they always broadcasted live from the clubs, so you could hear [what was playing at] the clubs when you were 12." Blair held his first residency, at the Delta Market in Takamatsu, at age 17 while attending college in Japan. More recently, at a local charity event, he let me hop behind the turntables for an impromptu tutorial on scratching. I caught up with Blair again recently between gigs.
1. What's your drink?
Negra Modelo, or Scotch and ginger ale
2. Who's your favorite drinking pal?
My brother, Sam
3. What was the last book you read?
Killing Pablo, by Mark Bowden
4. Last song or album you downloaded off iTunes?
"Love You Inside Out," by The Bee Gees. I don't know why I didn't already have it.
5. Favorite restaurant or dish?
Anything from Sushi Wabi
6. Who's your favorite Chicagoan, dead or alive?
7. Describe your job in one sentence.
Play records for people to dance and drink to
8. What are your three most prized possessions?
My Mac PowerBook, my record collection, and my wife's diamonds
9. When's bedtime?
Usually between 3 and 5 a.m.
10. Favorite Chicago store?
11. Where do you get your local news?
WGN in the morning. What up, Robin?
12. And your coffee?
13. Favorite brunch spot?
Furama on Broadway for dim sum on Saturdays and Sundays
14. Who's your favorite artist?
The Isley Brothers. They're incredible, and I believe Ron Isley is the record holder for the longest span between Top 40 hits: one in 1950-something and one in 2004.
15. What's your take on celebrity DJs?
They always suck. If you are a DJ and become famous, à la DJ AM, that's cool, but if you are famous, à la Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite, and then start DJing, it stinks. It's lame for clubs to hire these people; the music is never good. Would you pay Pedro to be your dentist? Just because you were in a movie doesn't mean you can do everything.
* * *Coming up this week: Along with other ladies of the local media, I'm participating in a fashion show benefiting the Service Club of Chicago, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday the 9th at Chaise Lounge. A minimum $20 donation at the door includes Champagne and hors d'oeuvres by Chaise chef Isaac Holzworth. Be sure to say hi if you drop by.
Photograph: Rob Zoom Photography