Born and raised in Dothan, Lee was introduced to spinning vinyl at the age of 18, when he first started going out to clubs. He became acquainted with the local DJs, and was intrigued by their talent.
“I’d had a love of music, different types of music — dance music, rock music, everything,” he remembers. When he decided to take up the trade in his early 20s, Lee started on a much more basic scale than today’s DJs.
“Back then, it was records only — there wasn’t such things as CDs or CD mixers and CD players,” he said. He bought a mixer from a flea market and turntables from a pawn shop on a road trip to Atlanta.
“Being that age, turntables are $500 bucks apiece – it’s not like you have $1,000 laying around,” Lee said of his equipment choices. He started scouting regularly for records in nearby Pensacola and Tallahassee.
“We’d drive an hour and a half just to buy records — that’s what you had to do,” he said of his early days in the business. For a few years in the late ’90s, Lee opened his own record store, “Pimpin’ the Wax,” inspired by a Beastie Boys lyric, but was eventually pushed out by the arrival of the more conventional CD turntable and the arrival of Napster and other forms of obtaining music.
“Basically, records just became more and more obsolete,” he said.
Lee DJed off and on for the next five years before a chance meeting with electronic group Rabbit and the Moon in 2004 allowed Lee to explore the DJ scene abroad — and gain exposure to the then-hot genre, electronica, which uses electronic instruments and sounds and usually has fast dance beats.
“It was fun, but I considered myself still kind of young at the time,” he said, “and it was always cool to be the DJ.”
Before he knew it, he had a new name, traveled to more places around the Southeast and developed a new focus. Formerly known as “DJ Nitemare,” Rabbit bandmembers David Christophere and DJ Monk didn’t really think the monkier fit his personality. After doing some research, Lee tapped into his zodiac sign, Aries. The Aries sign represents fire, so Lee decided to find his synergy by focusing on the opposite element, water — which in Japanese is “mizu.” He’s satisfied with his decision.
“It should make sense, and it should have a reason,” he said of choosing a name.
Following a lengthy residency during the 2000s at Grand Central Station in Dothan, he now spins across the state, and can be found once a month hosting “Revive Saturdays” by Daybreakk Productions in Anniston. Don’t expect the same rotation every set, however.
“You never know what to expect — except for a good time,” he said. “I don’t think a good DJ comes prepared to play a certain set. It’s all on crowd reaction, and what keeps the dance floor packed.”
Lee enjoys introducing crowds to new music, using remixes and mashups to introduce people to new music. “Everybody and their mother is putting hip-hop lyrics over dubstep right now,” he said of the latest dance floor trend.
Lee is looking forward to his return to Anniston on Saturday to The Smoking Moose, a.k.a. “the funnest crowd that I play for.”
“They love it, they’re there to have fun — I don’t think I’ve ever seen a fight in there … it’s just fun. I have friends from Dothan … they ride up (to the Smoking Moose)because they’d rather party there on a Saturday night than back home.”
Erin Williams is a graduate of Faith Christian School and the University of Alabama. She is a performing arts aide for the Washington Post Style section.
Longer days, hotter nights and more fun and unpredictable adventures with friends and family means it’s time to let the windows down and crank up the music. Lee has compiled a playlist of his 10 favorite summer jams that can take you from beach to barbecue in just one track.
DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince — “Summertime”
“As the name states, there are not many people on the planet that can’t associate this song with summer. The laid-back sound of this track always reminds me of chillin’ with my friends at a barbeque, or laid back on the sand listening to the waves crash in.”
LL Cool J — “Doin It”
I personally have always associated this track with spring and summer because LL Cool J performed this track down in Panama City Beach with MTV the summer this track came out.
Sublime — “What I Got”
“The California sound of Sublime always sets the tone for any summer siesta.”
Jay Z feat. UGK — “Big Pimpin”
“This track brought UGK to the mainstream, and made a timeless song that most recognize immediately. A video shot under the sun, surrounded by big boats and big money — perfect for any pool party or lakeside throwdown.”
Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg — “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang”
“I don’t think there was a single car that did not have this CD in their player the summer of 1993.”
Blur — “Song 2”
“One of the more recognized songs by Blur, sure to get the party started no matter what the location.”
Juvenile — “Back That Thang Up”
“This track was huge for the whole year in 1999. It put Cash Money Records on the map. You all would not have Lil’ Wayne if it wasn’t for this track.”
Sleigh Bells — “Rill, Rill”
“A chill laid-back track that you can kick your feet up and relax to while soaking up some rays.”
LMFAO — “I’m In Miami, Trick”
“This was the breakout song for these guys, and firmly planted them in the dance scene for many more singles to come. This was a big track for nightlife in the summer of 2008.”
Sisqo — “Thong Song”
“The video to this track says it all — suds, sunshine, and sand.”