Richmond-based artist finds new calling amid pandemic as a DJ

Sir Slush A Lot has played multiple events around the Bay Area such as Ocean Beach, Lake Merritt and Golden Gate Park

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Leila Figueroa

Raul Gutierez, also known as Sir Slush A Lot, DJs for We Skate Friday at Lake Merritt Boathouse in Oakland on April 16. (Leila Figueroa / GGX)

For Raul Gutierrez, music has always been a passion he wanted to pursue. Now with the purchase of his new turntables, Gutierrez has been slowly working toward his passion with deejay events around the Bay Area. Gutierrez, who goes by the stage name Sir Slush A Lot, has been deejaying for the past three months, slowly getting his name out there. 

“I’m the only one that comes out to play music right now [on Tuesdays] because my man Romy took a military leave. He’s not coming back until April. So he left me this. I’m taking over this [Golden Gate Park] until then, trying to keep the movement going,” Gutierrez said.

One of his latest shows was located at Golden Gate Park in an open area where patrons were freely rollerblading to his music. Riki Panganiban, a local resident finds value in having a deejay play music as opposed to someone with just a Bluetooth speaker connected. 

“It’s having someone who is paying attention to the skaters and what they want to listen to. That’s what a good DJ does, he sees what energy the crowd has and has the ability to transform the crowd on what music the group responds to,” Panganiban said. 

Gutierrez agrees as well and tries to match the music with the energy he’s receiving from the crowd.

“Sometimes if you ever see me hopping out of a song too fast it’s probably because I’m reading the crowd trying to get them jumping. It’s a roller coaster not only to me, but it’s a rollercoaster to them.”

The 27-year-old Richmond-based artist first got a chance to play a DJ set last July on his birthday as a way to test the waters and follow in his older brother’s footsteps who also deejay’s. After a couple of months passed, Gutierrez finally decided to hone his craft and take it seriously by purchasing two turntable sets as Christmas presents for himself. It has been a steady push to continue his passion, with playing various DJ sets across the Bay Area such as in Lake Merritt and Ocean Beach along with Golden Gate Park. 

“I love it. It’s bringing the best out of me and like, music speaks to me. So wherever I’m going through problems, complications in life like this is my go-to, this is my escape,” Gutierrez describes what motivates him to take up deejaying. For him, it provides a perfect solace to escape and zone out away from all his personal hardships.

Erick Cordova, a good friend of Gutierrez, saw potential in his friend’s passion and decided to give him a chance by booking and hiring him as his first customer.

I love it. It’s bringing the best out of me and like, music speaks to me. So wherever I’m going through problems, complications in life like this is my go-to, this is my escape.”

— Raul Gutierrez

“It was like literally Thanksgiving weekend. I paid him a hundred and fifty bucks to just play all night whenever to whenever. The party started at like four and he went to play for about eight hours till midnight, they played a good amount,” Cordova said.

 After that initial booking, Cordova noted how family members and mutual friends were asking him to get in contact with Gutierrez as they too wanted to hire him for parties and events. 

“My cousin’s birthday literally on Valentine’s Day, she was like can you call Raul to play for my birthday, please. And from that, I think like two weekends ago, a friend’s friend asked Raul to also play again. But at Ocean Beach,” Cordova noted.

For both Cordova and another friend of Gutierrez, Will Times, it hasn’t been surprising to see the dedication and passion he has been giving to his deejaying. Both were there to witness the initial beginnings of his deejay career, with Cordova noting how all the equipment and expenses needed to deejay professionally were all paid for by Gutierrez. 

“He didn’t have a laptop. He didn’t have anything. He had to buy everything from scratch. He had to buy his cables. He had to buy tables, his laptop with everything that he had to buy used.”

Times, who met Gutierrez back at El Cerrito High School and is also a member of the Slush Team collective that Raul is a part of, hopes that the good fortune only continues for his friend.

“He’s been getting a lot of offers, you know, getting a lot of gigs. And I hope it just keeps taking off from here, man. Like, hopefully we can perform at a venue one day. That’ll be awesome. And that’ll be a dream come true for sure. Yeah, man, it definitely, definitely in my heart should go somewhere because he has a lot of talent,” Times said.

Richmond-based DJ, Raul Gutierez, spins under the name ‘Sir Slush A Lot’ at multiple events throughout the Bay Area. His next performance will be a 4/20 celebration in Golden Gate Park. (Leila Figueroa / GGX) (Leila Figueroa)

Slush Team, which initially started as a descriptive term used between mutual friends, has evolved to become an outlet where friends could share their artistic expressions. Gutierrez’s stage name originates from his membership in the group, which formed from shared interests such as music, drawing and skating among other things. Times noted how the joke between friends sort of evolved after realizing the potential each of them had together. 

“Really, it really just started as a bunch of friends, man, just hanging out, you know what I’m saying. We were always just meeting up and drinking on Sunday night. And it’s just kind of like the term we used, like I’m kind of, slushed you know, It was kind of a joke. But then we kind of started taking it seriously and we started realizing how diverse our circle was culturally,” Times said.

Raul also finds inspiration and motivation in his Slush Team brethren, providing the following comment,

“Slush Team, that’s my group of friends. You know, we came together like those guys literally have helped me push and keep going on.”

Witnessing Gutierrez perform live, the influence of Slush Team is evident during his sets which involve a multitude of different genres. While Gutierrez notes himself as a fan of music more so than a specific artist, Times brought up some of the artists they were listening to when forming the collective such as the recently broken up Daft Punk and Australian house music producer Sonny Fodera among others as well. 

“Sonny Fodera all the way back to George Wein, Daft Punk, The Drums, a whole bunch of indie, indie music, all kinds of stuff, man, like we started with funk, like that old eighties funk, that’s kind of where it all took off”

With reopenings happening, there’s hope that Gutierrez can experience playing in a live venue this year. Either way, he just seems to be enjoying the experience that has been coming along since taking his deejaying seriously. 

“I want to take them on the journey. I want to bring them onto the high’s to the low’s, the mids. I want to lay them back. I want them to absorb everything. I wanted them to have an epiphany and you know, all that good stuff,”

Readers interested in catching Sir Slush A Lot at a next event can follow his Instagram page at @sirslushalot.