When it came time to settle on a name, local DJs Smoovgroovs, Shea Butter and Dstrukt made the odd choice of naming themselves after the beverage store chain, BevMo. While for some, the resulting “BVMO” (with the “E” dropped for style) seemed a strange name for a funk/soul/hip-hop DJ crew, it made perfect sense to them.
“We actually got flak from some people, who said ‘no one is going to take you serious if you use that as your crew name,’” Shea Butter says. “If you look at the tradition of crew names, there’s a certain humor that kind of underlines a lot of Bay Area DJs.
“Most of them could be comedians if they weren’t DJs,” he says, citing examples such as Invisibl Skratch Piklz and even Fingerbangerz—the name the Bangerz used up until a couple years ago.
BVMO isn’t just a funny name. There’s an actual story behind it that the crew feels is telling: When they started working together back in 2010, they noticed that every time they got in the same room, each one of them brought along a different beverage. The observation made them laugh, but it also felt poignant.
“It was kind of like our musical style, like we all come from different backgrounds and have different tastes. It’s like the variety that’s in that store,” Smoovgroovs says.
Everyone in the crew has the same objective of spinning interesting and obscure soul, funk, hip-hop and even some electronic dance music, and doing so in an artistic way that still achieves the main goal of getting people to dance. But they all do it in different ways, with different strengths and weaknesses.
Dstrukt started out backing rappers at underground hip-hop shows, and brings a lot of blending techniques and scratching skills to BVMO. He toured the U.S. and Europe recently as L.A. rapper Dumbfoundead’s DJ. In general, though, he left that scene behind.
“I started to realize that underground hip-hop doesn’t make girls dance,” Dstrukt says.
Smoovgroovs studied the piano before he ever touched a turntable and brings a lot of composition knowledge to BVMO, which helps when producing original music and creating remixes. “I was always backed by classical piano, reading notes, knowing the theory of music,” Smoovgroovs says.
Shea Butter started out as an avid record collector and later became an on-air DJ at KSJS, which ultimately led to him picking up a turntable and spinning at clubs.
“I started collecting vinyl because I love remixes,” he says. “I remember picking up a record thinking, ‘I’ve never even heard this track, I wonder what’s on here?’ I bought the record before I even had a turntable.”
One thing they all agree on is the importance of finding good danceable music other DJs aren’t spinning that will help them create diverse sets that still have cohesion to them.
“It’s almost like a friendly competition,” Shea Butter says. “It’s an individual sport as much as it is a team sport. I love digging for music and discovering new things and thinking that I’m actually going to break a song to people who’ve never heard it before to expose them to what I think is so great and get them to move at the same time.”
The crew holds residency at 55 South in San Jose every first and third Thursday, as well as at the Cardiff Lounge in Campbell every first and third Sunday, alongside Bangerz DJ Cutso. They also spin every other Thursday at Nightlife at the Academy of Science in San Francisco.
The crew spends the rest of its time playing one-off gigs, sometimes as BVMO, but often just as individual DJs. They also sometimes play more mainstream clubs, where they are expected to play Top 40—something not usually prominent on their playlist, but also not an issue to add to the mix.
“We can throw in the familiar songs, but we use it more as a tool to lure them in,” Smoovgroovs says. “After we get that connection, we like to play stuff that we like to play that maybe they haven’t heard of. If they like it then we achieved the goal.”
The BVMO crew are working on an EP of original sub-genre-based dance music, as well as a mixtape/hot dog package with CaliDog, as in you’ll get a CaliDog hot dog and a BVMO mixtape for one price, which should be interesting.