Musclecars: Why We Only DJ Sober
Brandon Weems and Craig Handfield are musclecars - a DJ and production duo from New York. Together, they run Coloring Lessons, a party launched in 2018 focusing on House, Disco, Jazz and Soul, with an ethos that prioritises dance music’s Black origins.
I caught up with the pair to discuss why neither drink while they DJ, how they find it effects their sound and whether DJing can be just as fun sober.
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What’s your personal policy when it comes to drinking and gigging?
Craig: It’s funny to be doing these questions cause we’re both totally sober hahaha. I was never really a drinker, but I totally stopped drinking sophomore year of college, so maybe 8 years ago?
Brandon: I don’t like the taste of alcohol, or the hangover sensation the next morning, so I quit drinking about six years ago.
How has your attitude towards drinking during gigs changed compared to when you first started out?
Brandon: When I was about nineteen or twenty, drinking every weekend was the norm. By the time we started playing out I was already sober. I find that I’m way more engaged when I’m sober. It’s much easier for me to pick up on the nuances in the crowd and connect with people.
Craig: I would definitely agree - being sober allows you to better get a read on people, especially those in the crowd. Of course, attendees drinking during parties is a very regular thing, and I think as long as everyone’s safe, everything’s cool with me.
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had behind the decks, were you sober?
Brandon: I would have to say the Mister Sunday opening party at Nowadays, back in May. Yes, I was completely sober for that party.
Craig: We did a Coloring Lessons party out in Glen Falls (Upstate, NY) that was really special and yes, I was totally sober.
What advice would you give to a young DJ trying to navigate partying professionally?
Craig: I think moderation is important - with drinking, drugs, anything really. Knowing your limits, and making sure you’re in a safe space with people you trust around you is the key to navigating any party, whether you’re playing the music or dancing to it.
Brandon: I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with drinking, and I don’t necessarily encourage anyone to stop. Drinking and drugs become an issue when you can’t play because you're too intoxicated. As a DJ, you’re important to the party, but we’re also paid professionals. Showing up to gigs late or getting intoxicated to the point of not being able to play is irresponsible in my opinion.
Whether you mix with a beer in hand, or if you're teetotal, finding the balance between partying and playing is key to learning how to DJ professionally. If you, or someone you know is struggling with alcohol consumption, visit drinkaware.com for support.
For more from musclecars, including updates on their forthcoming EP 'Shelter (Building It, Still)', follow the duo on Instagram.
To help hone your skills as a musician or DJ, you can book a pirate.com studio in the US, UK or Germany 24/7.