Star-D: San Francisco DJ

Hit On with DJ Star-D

Music has always been an integral part of my life.

I got an early start with music when my mother enrolled me in a preschool program at the Cleveland Music School Settlement.  An accomplished cellist herself, she provided a lot of encouragement for me and my four sisters to get involved in music.  There was a piano in the house, and from learning to play Chopsticks at age five, I had a natural affinity for the keyboard.

At age 8, my family and I moved to Martha's Vineyard, where I struggled to adjust to a small town environment.  In elementary school, I picked up the clarinet, which I played all the way through high school and into college.  I also played, at various times, the recorder and hand bells.  At one point I even considered continuing on to study music, but my interests in chemistry, physics, and mathematics won out, and I enrolled in Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to study Electrical Engineering.

During my college years, I eventually put away the instruments, but never got completely away from music.  Being fascinated with radio, I got involved with radio station WRCT, where I got initiated into the world of progressive and alternative music.  Back then, neopsychedelic, gothic, industrial, hardcore, and electronic music were popular at the station.  I was heavily involved -- almost too heavily -- with my weekly music show, as well as promoting alternative artists who came into the city.   Towards the end, I was very excited about the evolution of industrial dub and rap in the late 80's.

As I studied at CMU, compact disks were just starting to evolve as the musical storage medium of choice.  During my classes on electronic signals and systems, I imagined the possibility of designing a CD player that could adjust the tempo without affecting pitch.  Little did I know that my idea would eventually become a reality years later.

I graduated with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics in 1990, and my musical pursuits were put on the shelf as it were.  I moved to New York City to work as a Programmer Analyst on Wall Street.   During those years, electronic music was making headway into the mainstream.  While I enjoyed listening to it in the privacy of my home, or through headphones at my office desk, I never found myself in dance venues that played it.

Eventually, I decided I wanted to pursue a more technically centered career, so I moved to San Francisco in 1995.   It proved to be a very fortuitous move, but for reasons that were not apparent at the time.  A friend introduced me to raves, and I was hooked.  It was at this time that I reconnected with a fellow CMU alumnus and WRCT DJ, Mike Wertheim, who was firmly established in the rave scene at that time.   I became deeply involved in two dance collectives, The Community and The Rhythm Society.

So what led me to getting involved in DJing again?  I was co-producing a Gratitude party in SF in 1999.  Chris Jones, knowing my extensive music collection, suggested that I spin in the chill room.  It was the first time in nine years that I touched a mixer.  As DJ Danjagirl witnessed my first-ever party set, she remarked, "You're a natural."  Needless to say, I was sucked in, and DJ Stardragon was born.  I would eventually become a fixture at Community, Rhythm Society, and Raise the Frequency events.   A year later, my DJ interests broadened into the dance realm, and I spun my first dance set in front of 500 people at a New Year's Eve 2001 event at the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in San Francisco.

By 2003 it was clear that my DJing was evolving on two distinct paths -- one in the chill room, and one on the dance floor.  A friend who I had just met on started calling me "Star D", a shortened version of Stardragon.  That name begin to stick, and I adopted it as my dance alter ego, while Stardragon continues to set the vibe in various chill spaces.