A New Jersey-based DJ, PERRY’s love for music began at an early age and morphed through the years with his growing exposure to the Tri-State Area’s nightlife. Beginning solely as a DJ first, his involvement in the scene expanded over the years, eventually blossoming into his own party New York City series STRANGE PEOPLE. His sights ever set on traveling through music, PERRY’s deep connection with the two have taken him to many cities across the globe, with an endless list of others he can’t wait to hit.
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Sean Ritchie: Let’s start this off by talking a bit about where you grew up in New Jersey. What really stands out about the area?
PERRY: I grew up in Scotch Plains. We moved to Warren about 10 years ago, but my childhood was in Scotch Plains. It’s about 30 miles or so outside of Manhattan. It was a good balance of the suburbs, a more rural area, and it was close enough to New York [City] where you could get the energy of the city. A lot of my summers were spent at the Jersey shore beaches. I love it [here]. I think that people who are not from New Jersey have a lot of stereotypes. There’s a reputation behind it from what people see on TV, but New Jersey is actually beautiful. I’m proud to call it home.
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SR: You just touched on the Jersey shore, where would you normally go? Then, what’s something else about the state that you find unique?
P: I would definitely say the Jersey shore was a huge part of my childhood. It still is today. I have a big family and we all go down for Fourth of July weekend. We barbecue, drink and spend time together by the beach. My family had a house down in Lavallette, so we were down there all summer.
Also, before I got into music, sports were a big part of my life. Basketball is actually my first love — always will be. I played in high school, played in college. New York/New Jersey is the mecca of basketball in the world. Spending a lot of time on the courts was a big part of my childhood. I think the level of talent around here, not just in basketball, but sports as a whole, is one thing that goes unnoticed.
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Then, there’s a lot of great food in the state. I lived in Hoboken for five-or-six years, and all the deli, bagel and pizza shops there are unmatched. Vito’s is one of my go-to spots.
SR: The bagels in New Jersey can’t be beat for sure. Now, to bring it into your music, what was your inspiration behind becoming an artist?
P: It all ties into growing up and playing sports. Hip-hop is a big part of the basketball culture. So, I grew up with the 90’s and early 2000’s hip-hop and R&B. I also listened to a lot of 90’s rock music. I think the 90’s was a golden era of music all around. I was always very curious and listened to new things, and just gradually, as I got older, was exposed to more nightlife and clubs. I then gravitated towards house music. The core of it had similar baselines to 80’s and 90’s hip-hop. I liked the groove and I loved to dance. As sports started to near its end, I always wanted to go out. So, that’s how the progression happened. It all kind of came naturally.
SR: Really cool to hear. So, fast-forwarding a bit and tying it into travel, how does music and travel fit together in your life today?
P: This is part of a reoccurring conversation I have with a lot of people. It sounds cliché, but it’s so true: music has connected me to so many people. You and I wouldn’t be having this conversation if it wasn’t for music. You gain a lot of good friends through it. So, to answer your question it also has opened doors to travel. Again, I’ve met people from all over the world. I played in Mexico [over the summer]. I’ve played in Berlin. Without music I’m sure I could go to some of these places, but music made it a reality. Opening the doors to travel is a huge reason why I got into it too.
SR: Absolutely, and to piggyback on that, one of my favorite things is that music becomes a soundtrack to a trip. A new album could come out or a track could drop and the memories are tied to that sound.
P: Yeah, you’re absolutely right. Anytime I hear an old song or whatever it is it always brings me back to a certain place.
SR: Absolutely. When you do have some down time, what type of vacation are you searching for?
P: Growing up by the beach I will always enjoy that, but I’m at a point in my life where I want to see everything. I think I’ll have time 15-20 years from now to have time to relax on the beach with a family, but right now I want to see everything. I want the whole hustle-and-bustle, being in-and-out of a city exploring, meeting people and finding different things. That’s what I want to see right now. I’m at a point where I want to see it all.
SR: I want to touch on your STRANGE PEOPLE party series, as well. Take me through that. What’s the motivation behind it? What are you looking to accomplish in the next couple months going forward?
P: So, we launched STRANGE PEOPLE in March of 2014. To take it further back than that I started to DJ in bars and clubs about five years ago. As an artist first, there were a lot of other artists that I had become fond of. One of my goals was to bring these people together from all over and expose New York to them, some had never been here before.
This wasn’t something to make a quick buck, this was something that I enjoyed doing. So, we’ll host parties every few weeks or so in different settings throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. It’s kind of created our own path in the scene. Over the last few years we’ve really started to carve out our brand and name. We get a lot of regulars coming in and out. It’s exciting. Through the party I’ve made a lot of friends and been able to travel some.
The plan for the short term is to continue to bring in talent. We’re really focused on quality, as opposed to pumping out parties every week. In the short term that’s really where we’re at. With [Strange People] there’s no expectations. It’s really just about music, meeting people and having fun. That’s really the core of why we got into this. [It’s all about] a platform for people to unwind and escape for a few hours through music.
SR: That’s really cool to hear. Presently, I know you just came back from quite the trip to Peru. What was that experience like seeing the country?
P: So, this was my second time going. Last time I went was 2012 right after [Hurricane] Sandy. Sandy kind of cut into our trip a bit, so we lost like two days. I did notice though that it’s changed a lot in the past four-five years. There’s a lot of development. It’s becoming more urbanized. You can see the American influence. It’s a lot safer. I never felt unsafe once this time. The food is amazing too. It’s one of the top two-or-three cuisines in the world. There’s a lot of history too.
© Karl Norling
It’s also right on the Pacific, so you get your urban areas. Lima is the main city, but you also get the beaches. January is the start of their summer, so if I had to compare it’s like our Memorial Day Weekend.
SR: That’s cool that you were able to see the country evolve from your last trip. It sounds like a great place to visit. I know you visited Machu Picchu when you were there too. Describe what that was like.
P: So, to get there we flew from Lima to Cusco. We stayed one night there to get acclimated to the altitude, but there’s also a lot of history and ruins there too. We had a tour guide take us around. Then from Cusco, we took a two-hour bus ride to an hour or so train ride to Machu Picchu city. Some people hike right from there, which is insane if you ask me, but we took a bus up. Just getting there is a trek. You’re weaving in-and-out of mountains and rivers. It’s pretty intense.
SR: Lastly, did you have any problems with the altitude?
P: Cusco was more the problem than Machu Picchu, because it’s about 12,000 feet above sea level. So, you’re going back down to get to Machu Picchu. I think it’s around 9,000 feet, which is still super high. Cusco you walk five steps and you feel like you ran a mile. You get used to it a little bit, but it was pretty intense.
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