San Francisco DJ John LePage Keeps the Dance Floor Happy
John LePage may not be a household name quite yet. But in 16 years behind the decks, this DJ-producer living in San Francisco has honed his craft of spinning happy music for happy dancers. Originally from Toronto and educated in Montreal as an accountant, this sexy Canadian is tall, fit, muscular, a bit shy and reserved, with an ear for music and eye candy to his fans.
As a lover of happy music, he cites early influences like Susan Morabito and Warren Gluck (both originally out of New York). John says he likes to play music that moves him. "I appreciate ’happy music,’" he says. "But I also appreciate harder and edgier music as well."
For that, he cites New York’s Billy Carroll as the DJ who inspired him to become a DJ himself. He first caught Carroll as a guest DJ at the club where LePage bartended back in Montreal. John LePage found himself behind the decks for his first gig at local club Sky for a T-dance in 1996. "I was terrified my mixing wouldn’t be good enough," he says now. Once behind the turntables, however (you remember those things that preceded computers and CDs -- the ones that used vinyl records, right?), he says "a calmness came over me." The result was a musical match of serenity and joy.
After moving to New York in 1997, LePage found himself with his first big break when we was offered a residency at Chelsea’s landmark Splash Bar. He was only a last minute fill-in for the current resident DJ, who had called in sick. But his mixing went over so well that when a weekly Friday night residency became available, he was on the short list and was finally offered the gig.
The Splash residency launched him in the orbit of the larger gay club scene. "A residency at an NYC club as iconic as Splash made me very marketable," he admits. Before long, LePage had gigs in Boston, Philadelphia, Denver and Dallas. Eventually, he landed some of the major Circuit parties, such as the White Party and Winter Party in Miami, as well as the biggest party of them all, Black and Blue Festival back in Montreal.
Moving to San Francisco in 2004, he lined up gigs at Sanctuary and Sweat, while still traveling to events like Seattle’s Northern Exposure, Beef Dip in Puerto Vallarta, and the Onyx Ball in Toronto. Since becoming a part of the city’s huge bear scene, this versatile DJ has a broad appeal to many ages and types. He has become a regular on the bear Circuit scene, where he has a huge following. He has also broadened his musical interests from "happy hands in the air" anthems to deeper alternative late night beats.
Moving Into the Studio
I started following LePage’s career in at about the time he gained his popularity on the scene working with promoters like Harry Lit and Gus Bean in San Francisco. John was playing diverse events with a diverse sound, so sometimes it was hard to catch what he defined as his sound.
After getting a bit burned out and feeling that his career was stalled, LePage took a short sabbatical from the decks in 2007. After a nine-month absence, he returned to the scene, renewed. He says he felt renewed and refreshed, with a sound that was a big step forward. He hit a stride capturing the happy anthems and the deep alternatives that he always loved best. Clearly this DJ was missed and he missed the crowds.
LePage also owns a small independent record label called Groove Records. He’s hit the Billboard charts with "Heaven" and "Catch a Fire" featuring Debby Holiday and LFB. Last July ,Groove released "Love So Strong," a collaboration with DJ/Producer Paul Goodyear and featuring the sensational vocals of Peyton.
"Love So Strong" is the resurrection of a 1994 track from Secret Life. Many DJs, including Jamie J. Sanchez, Wayne G and Porl Young, Dig-it Entertainment (Luke Johnstone, Andy Allder and Wayne G), Dan De Leon, Bryan Reyes and Sean Mac, and D’Johnny and DJ Nibc have created remixes popular last summer.
In 2011, LePage himself was working in the studio on remixes with his production collaborator Leo Frappier (LFB). Together they produced remixes for Northernbeat featuring Lonnie Gordon, Paul Goodyear featuring Caroline Lund and hot local artist L10.
LaPage is currently gearing up to release the first original track he wrote, "Key To Your Soul," his first stab at songwriting. "It’s already been getting a great response when I play it during my sets,". He relates. The track features the vocals of Debby Holiday and is co-written with Jeff Fedak and Debby Holiday. It should be hitting the dance floor any day now. LaPage has a longstanding relationship with Holliday: In addition to "Heaven" and "Catch A Fire," "Take Me Higher," released in early 2011, also featured the famed vocalist.
Today, LePage is very happy with what he has accomplished, although he looks forward to becoming more well known nationally and getting more high-profile gigs. Current influences include San Francisco’s own Paul Goodyear, Brit Wayne G, Chicago-based Ted Eiel and Joe Gauthreaux -- a nice rainbow to demonstrate LePage’s variety of musical choices.
"Each kind of dance music style has its time and place," says LePage. "One week I am playing top 40 tracks at the Lookout and the next week I am serving up a fierce underground set at the Endup. I love all of it!"
While LePage continues to travel frequently, he still manages to keep playing his favorite local hangouts such as the EndUp, Rebel and Lookout. Check out his website for a complete list of his music and play dates.