Despite venue closures and occasional noise complaints, Andrew Moyco a.k.a. Audio Dru has been keeping San Jose on the underground hip-hop and dubstep map for the past four years. After shuffling between clubs, his two regular live shows are back at their original home at Johnny V’s.
“The Cypher,” now the longest-running underground hip-hop open mic in San Jose, is held every Wednesday night while the newer “South Bay Dub Massive” dubstep show goes down every second Saturday of the month.
Both shows have developed a solid reputation for bringing hot new talent and aficionados of underground hip-hop and dubstep together under one roof. I caught up with Audio Dru to find out more about the history of the Cypher, his favorite shows and musicians, and what the future may bring.
How long have you been doing the Cypher show?
In December it will be four years. We started it in December 2006. We started at Johnny V’s, they closed down two years later, so we moved it to Mission Ale House. We were doing it there for a few months, then Mission Ale House got sold and we moved it to Brittania Arms downtown. We were there for a few months and then Johnny V’s reopened so we moved it back. We always had it on Wednesdays though.
How many DJ’s are in the crew?
Right now there’s Wrek-One, Luicidal, myself, Tarzan, this tag team group called Projekt90, Fabian Toledo, Smizzle Monster and DJ Abraham. We’ve had a couple of other DJ residents that have come and gone like Chlorophil, Chraze and Slim.
Originally it was drum ‘n bass. We started it in November 2006 as “Drumnbo,” an open mic over drum ‘n bass music and jungle. That was on Thursdays and then we switched it over to Wednesdays and changed the name to “The Cypher”. I used to have house DJ’s come out and spin and freestyle over top of house music. The new thing we’ve been doing over the past year and a half is dubstep. Right now at Johnny V’s we have the upstairs all dubstep and downstairs is the live music with more hip-hop freestyle. We also have live bands come through like reggae, funk and R&B.
Do you have a steady lineup of vocalists and lyricists?
We have a lot of MC’s that have come and gone. We call it “The Cypher Squad”. We’ve had Dirtbag Dan, Kung Fu Vampire, YDMC, Kalizay, Myc Ripley, Lucky Lucianni and Fritzoe. We always have special guests come from out of town. Nowadays it’s pretty cool because I don’t even have to book for the night. It’s gotten a reputation on its own. People from out of town stopping by the area know they have a place to perform. This week I have a group called Divine Daughters, they’re coming up from L.A. to perform. Next week I have these guys from Oregon called L&A (Lomo and Asol) and I also have a local reggae group called The Pharmies.
What was your favorite Cypher show?
A couple come to mind. We had Sweatshop Union come down from Vancouver. They were on tour and signed on Battle Axe Records. They rocked the show with us. Another really good one was our three year anniversary show at Brittania Arms. We had a 16-bar freestyle competition. Every MC would come up and do 10 bars a cappella and then rap 16 bars over a beat I would choose. We don’t really encourage battle raps. We’ve had a couple battle raps before but it always turns into bad news with the ego bashing. It just causes too much drama, the egos get too big.
Who would you love to have play at Cypher?
I’d like to have Zion I come through, some big name dubstep DJ’s or the Hieroglyphics guys. I had one of the Living Legends guys come through a few weeks ago, Scarub, and he got down with this other group called Afro Classics. I’ve had some pretty decent names in the underground come through. But the thing
about Cypher is we don’t really have a budget, it’s like an open mic, it’s usually free or at the most $3 at the door just so we can put up the guests in a hotel. I try to keep it free before 10:30. We still get some pretty good talent.
How long are you going to keep doing it?
I’ll probably do it ‘til the wheels fall off, until there’s no venue where we can do it at. If I ever move on, I have other DJ’s who have already told me they could take over if I leave. I don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. It’s at home, back home at Johnny V’s where it was born.
When I first started Cypher there were two or three other ones that popped up trying to do open mic freestyle but they didn’t last very long. Iguana’s (Cafecito) had “Lyrical Discipline” but the thing with that is the all ages, no alcohol, you can’t cuss, kind of like a coffee shop. I brought that to the dive bar scene where you can drink and cuss, make it more like a party. I used do a South Bay hip-hop showcase on Sundays at Voodoo Lounge with Kung Fu Vampire but it wasn’t an open mic.
I’ve also been doing this new party for two years now called “South Bay Dub Massive” which is all dubstep. I’ve brought some big names out already like 6Blocc, Truth, Sam Supa, Roommate, Antiserum, pretty well known names in the dubstep game. We have another one this Saturday, our first Saturday dubstep show. It should be pretty good. We had Sundays at Mission Ale House before they closed and then we moved it to San Francisco and then back to San Jose at Farenheit but noise complaints forced us to move it over to Johnny V’s.
This Saturday we have over 15 DJ’s going down in two rooms, all dubstep music. I’m gonna try to do it as a monthly, hopefully every second Saturday. Dubstep is what I’m really known for now. I was originally a hip-hop DJ, that’s what I grew up on. I always appreciated drum ‘n bass and jungle but dubstep is just taking over right now. What’s cool about dubstep is that you can tagteam. You can have two DJ’s spin and go back and forth. You can’t really do that much in hip-hop.
Any other side projects?
I’ve been with the KSJS college station 90.5 FM for around seven years now, Mondays 6-10pm, “Rendezvous with Audio Dru,” hip-hop, soul, drum ‘n bass and dubstep music. A lot of people have told me they never heard dubstep until they heard it on my radio show. It’s still underground but I get to play it for people terrestrially and in their cars. I got nominated this year for best local radio DJ. I won first place in 2006 for the Metro and I got honorable mention in 2007 and 2008. I took a break from radio last year. I was one of the first DJ’s to start playing dubstep at KSJS and now there’s a few in rotation.
What are your top five dubstep musicians right now?
I found this guy online named Cyber Optiks. Doctor P has some good stuff. I’ve always been a fan of Caspa. I really like Downlink and Datsik. Bay Area dubstep is growing pretty well. This guy named Fish Finger, all the Santa Cruz dubstep and Crossroad Records are blowing up right now. Babylon System, Roommate and Antiserum from San Francisco are already signed to U.K. labels and they’re blowing up.
Me and couple friends just started up our Tuesday beat-making laboratory where we make beats on Tuesdays at my home studio, just zoning out and making beats.
Are you thinking about launching a record label?
Yeah, anything’s possible as we get more established.