If you’ve attended any local hip hop shows in recent years, there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen Joe Giampino, aka DJ SPCLGST, at the tables, warming up the crowd. It’s also possible you’ve found yourself moving to his groove at any number of area bars and clubs. A list of upcoming events on his website shows just how busy he stays – it’s not unusual to see appearances listed for Five Star, Proof, Neptune’s, and Ruby Deluxe all in the span of a week.
Giampino has a good bit of experience, having been DJing for 15 years. He claims would have started earlier, but had to save up to purchase turntables. “I was always fascinated by DJing. I loved the way a DJ could control a party and or crowd,” he says. “I used to go to raves back in the 90s and just stare at the DJ and watch what he was doing.” The root of his musical obsession was skateboarding, which he says introduced him to different genres of music, including punk, new wave, funk, and hip hop. “I like switching it up with multiple music genres. No one style is better than the other. I just try to use what skills I’ve been given to play each genre in a different way.”
As DJ SPCLGST, Giampino has shared the stage with an impressive list of artists. But don’t expect him to brag about it. Even for this article, he opted not to “name drop,” claiming that wasn’t his style. But to give you some context, I recently saw him spin an early set to a packed house for Biz Markie, and have seen him open for a number of artists performing at the Hopscotch Music Festival. According to his online bio, he has built a veritable resume working alongside the likes of Rob Swift, Jazzy Jeff, Spinderella, and Yelawolf, to name a few. Despite all this, Giampino stays loyal and true to his roots. “The most important, favorite, and best moments are when I get to play and throw great parties with my friends,” he says. “My group of friends are just as good, if not better than any famous artist
Skateboarding not only introduced Giampino to music, but also to art – and graffiti art in particular – another of his artistic endeavors. “I went to art school and studied Design and Photography, but also painted a ton throughout school,” he says. “I started as a graffiti artist and as I honed my skills in other artistic avenues I got half way decent at making a mess feel balanced and correct. I like to incorporate all the skills I’ve learned to make cool things.”
When he’s not DJing and making art, Giampino stays busy working with us at Oak City Hustle, employing his skills in a number of ways. Frequently that includes shooting photos, designing the layout, or setting up events. “But most days I just sit in my office and look at dirty magazines,” he jokes.
Outside of all these interests, he still finds time to spend with his girlfriend and dog, to be a “professional hoarder of grown up toys, books, and art thingamigigers,” and to pursue his passion of international travel. “I love to taste, see, smell, explore, and feel the world. It’s amazing out there and I hope everyone one day can just step outside of their comfort bubble. I hope it inspires people. People inspire me and I hope I can do the same.”