Hey DJ!: Boone Rogers Talks Shop

by Peter Madsen

A couple minutes after Shaun White blazed through his last run of the Men’s Snowboard Superpipe Final (effectively winning the darn thing), I found Boone, the Music Director/Competition DJ, stationed behind vacated judges’ stools, juggling through songs (DFA79 “Sexy Results MSTRKFT Remix”) that blasted from speakers positioned above the bustling Awards Ceremony.

This guy’s got 10 years doing DJ work for action sports events. Before that, however, he worked as an audio engineer, rigging up soundsystems for business meetings and stuff.

Considering his current line of work, we assume he tired of boardrooms pretty quick.

He lives in San Diego, California, and gets his snowboarding fix by driving to nearby Big Bear or, if he’s up for it, his favorite hill Mammoth Mountain, which is a little longer of a drive. Boone has skateboarded and rode BMX since he was, like, eight-year-old. Lately he’s been shaping surfboards — that’s his main love when he’s home — and afterwards might drag them to the nearby beach for some trouble shooting sessions.

You know, Boone’s kinda like the ultimate BMX/skate/snow/surf-boarder dude. Thanks for DJing, Boone!

What songs have you really dug that skiers and riders have picked?

Ah, there’s so much good music these guys are listening to throughout their runs. There’s a little bit of everything. There’s a mix of everything from hip-hop to hard rock. There is some ’80s stuff coming back. One of the guys tonight requested Foghat. All kinds of different stuff.

What trends or patterns have you noticed among the picks?

There’s kind of been a resurgence with a lot of stuff that was around in the ’80s—a lot of those sounds. You’re hearing a lot of people taking samples from a lot of different areas, and it’s really really cool.

That seems to correspond with the fashion trends we’re seeing.

Exactly. You’re seeing a lot of neon…you see a lot of groups that have flavors that speak to the ’80s. Maybe it’s a 20-year cycle. Bands like MGMT, they sound like could have been around in the past, but they’re not. But they’re fresh. They bring in styles from the past and mix them in a new way and become relevant today.

With MGMT, I feel they have this appeal because they’re all about celebrating being young.

Yeah, it’s a big celebration of the youth. A lot of other people too like M.I.A. have really been showing up and having a big impact. Some Electronic music coming back, mixing disco flavors from the late-’70s, early-‘80s, and really making it relevant today. It’s really an exciting time for music, for sure.

I noticed skier Tom Wallisch had picked 2Pac’s “They Don’t Give a F*** About Us”. Are there language concerns that you have to keep an eye out for?

Yeah, I’m always trying to keep with radio-edits, the clean versions. I definitely gotta try to either find a way to edit it get something very similar to make them happy.

What’s an example of a song you’d love to play, but it just wouldn’t be appropriate for everyone?

Well, speaking of 2Pac, there are some of his songs that I just have to turn down. I just don’t have enough time to edit out all the s*** and f***, and the b****.

Like that one song where 2Pac starts out telling Biggie how he [enjoyed sexual transgressions with his enemy’s wife]?

Yeah, yeah. You just can’t play that for the crowd. It’s just not going to be appropriate.

Among the Men’s and Women’s Snowboard Superpipe Finals, who do you think picked a song that was a perfect match for their style of riding?

I think definitely the winner tonight, Shaun White. You see him rocking tie-dye shirts, as you see him running the longer hair, and he rides to old-school rock. Like Led Zeppelin, AC/DC—those are also the sounds you hear in his videogames.

Which song by which artist did he pick?
Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown” for his first run, and “Immigrant Song.” For his second.

The “Immigrant Song” might be a nod to [Round 2: Rodney Mullen vs. Daewon Song]. Anyway.

And that’s a song he’s picked for his runs in the Skate Vert comps in the Dew Tour.

I thought it was hilarious that skier Bobby Brown picked a Lil Wayne song and then a Spice Girls song. I like how they can use their music selections to get themselves hyped, yet they can also use it to bring things down a little and have fun.

The best thing about the athletes being able to request their songs is how it shows a little bit of their personality, that they have a sense of humor, and that not everybody is running to the same thing over and over.

Now, what about the athletes who don’t send their song requests in? How do you go about picking which songs to play?

It’s kind of a matter of what’s going to help out the show. Sometimes I might know the athlete or know what songs they’ve picked for video parts. I can go that route. It’s also about keeping the show lively. If we’ve had three hip-hop songs in a row, I’ll switch it up and throw in a rock and roll song to keep the crowd entertained.

What if someone wanted to have some downer acoustic folk song, like Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay,” for example.

Ah, yeah, sometimes you can cue it up to a part of the song that has a bit of a beat, even if it is a slow song. Sometimes you can make that happen. Other times, though, it makes the show lose a lot of energy. So we try to avoid that as much as possible.

Have there been any songs you’ve absolutely cringed at when you realized, ‘ugh, I have to play this?’

There’s a few.

Do you want to name them?

Not really. It’s just a matter of some things been overplayed and you’re like, ‘oh, no. Not this again.’ Everyone is hot on Lil’ Wayne right now, but for me, I’m wishing they would bring some new stuff.