Artist: DJ Johnny Tran
Origins: Tran balances his DJ appearances with his role in the San Diego art scene. He co-owns North Park’s Thumbprint Gallery, which features contemporary urban art, and, along with his partner, Paul Ecdao, he curates urban art shows at Bar Basic, Industry Showroom and other venues around town. He’s also one of the founding members of The Dope Show, an artist collective that puts on art shows and live-painting events around town.
Sound: A classical pianist and jazz musician who attended UCSD, Tran got his DJ start experimenting with underground hiphop. His current style, he says, is fluid and situational. To explain it, he points to a martial-arts approach. “I drew from Bruce Lee’s philosophy, jeet kune do. That is basically what I base my entire life on, including my music. It’s a martial-arts philosophy. They claim there is no way like your way. No style like your style.”
Stats: Tran recently scored a steady gig at Candela’s, spinning every Thursday night while incorporating art with the music. He’s also spun at the Adams Avenue Art Walk, Bar Basic and POP Thursdays at the Museum of Photographic Arts. And though Tran recently contemplated hanging up his headphones, he was ultimately drawn back in.
“I thought of giving it up because I had so much going on,” he recalls with a chuckle. “But right when I said, ‘OK, maybe I’m over it,’ I started getting booked a lot. So I guess I’m not allowed to give up. I thought about getting out, but they sucked me back in.”
Next up: Tran will be spinning at the next Sight & Sound event on Aug. 20 at Queen Bee’s Cultural Center in North Park