Get to Know a DJ: Castro & Madcow

Coming correct on all fronts

February, 11, 2009, by Vince

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First, the story of NeuRomance, courtesy of Chico Scott:

“Neu Romance started out as a modest opportunity for me to play some tunes while bartending on Sunday nights at Kings. I didn’t really think many folks would come, and Steve [Popson] said if I could average $150 bucks in sales per night we could look at the night in three months and maybe make it permanent. What I really wanted to do was play out in public the wonderful variety of music I had collected over the last 10 years. WKNC Afterhours was playing a really broad mix of down-tempo, UK garage, jazzy house, and ambient electronica at the time, and I thought some of that shit was really cool. It was good drinking music, a bit more sophisticated and cosmopolitan than what most of the other bars and lounges were playing in Raleigh at the time. DJ’s like Merlin and Mooney were holding it down at Five Star; Matt Routh was hosting Thursday parties at Bickett Gallery and Humble Pie; Keith Ward had a loyal following at Helios; and Daniel Moore had the only reliable old-school house night at Sushi Blues and Cafe Cyclo. But Kings was the salt of the earth really, and no other place lent itself so wholly to the people. Money was never an issue (with us or with Kings), so the music was allowed to be the main draw. Folks responded to that making a little downtown scene comprised of DJ’s, service industry peeps, Kings rockers, and regular folks looking for cheap drinks. Neu Romance soon incorporated the Rollergirl after-parties into the mix, as well as charity mixers ranging from Aids Alliance Services of N.C. to the National Urban League. And we hosted bands including Valiant Thorr, Proof, Shadow of a Great Name, Melvin Sparks,Pro -L, A Rooster For The Masses, Ocktober World, Apollo Heights, and the Corey Parker Band featuring famous N.C. native Maceo Parker. We had a fantastic run of 3 1/2 years at the Barcade.

A year and a half ago or so we revived the show at Tir Na Nog. Although the staff there was amazingly supportive (and still are) aestically the Irish pub was never the right fit for us. The nature of Neu Romance is as an underground entity not for mass consumption. So we relocated to Alibi Bar on Martin St. Alibi is located in a basement, and is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It’s dark, has a pool table, and most importantly DJ gear was permanently there so we didn’t have to haul our shit down every Sunday. Neu Romance regulars responded emphatically, and the show has enjoyed a renewed success every since. Unless there is a special charity function organized the show is always free. And from the very beginning at Kings we always incorporated the best DJ’s in town from all genres to be a part of the show as featured guests. Having the show on Sunday allowed busy DJ’s to lounge and relax with the music instead of it being just a tool for a job. There has always been a genuine since of hospitality to Neu Romance regardless of it’s location. An each incarnation of the show has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the downtown Raleigh DJ scene, and we owe it’s success to the support of the folks who come out on Sunday nights.”

DJ Madcow

How long have you been DJing?
I’ve been spinning professionally since 1995. The first paying gig was at the annual open artist hanging at the old City Gallery of Contemporary Art. But I first started playing records at parties in junior high school.

Where/when do you DJ?
I spin every first and third Monday at Tir Na Nog; Every first Friday at Flanders Gallery; Every Thursday at Globe Restaurant;  Every Sunday at Alibi Lounge; as well guest stints at places like Five Star, Mosquito, 101 Lounge, White Collar, Solas, and Mosaic. My DJ partner (DJ Castro) and I also perform at weddings, private parties, charities, and fraternity/sorority functions.

What kind of equipment do you use?
I use a Pioneer DJM 600 mixer, two Pioneer CDJ 200’s, two Technics 1200 MK2 turntables and Technics RP-DH 1200 headphones. We use JBL’s for our sound-system.

What are your favorite songs to play?
Any time I can incorporate Quantic, Bushy, Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack, Nina Simone, Prince, Mos Def or Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings in a set I am happy.

Do you ever get tired of playing certain songs?  If so, which ones and why?
No not really. I’m fortunate enough not to have to play anything I really hate. Once Castro and I incorporated we became a bit more open mined about what we’ll play. Still no Macarena, no Chicken Dance,and no Soldja Boy. We do play what we consider “crap” from time to time, but if you’re doing a sorority mixer that’s the shit they want to hear. The money is good and folks have fun, and everybody’s happy. We don’t judge, we just spin.

When DJing, surely you must have to use the restroom or take a breather.  What kind of “break” songs (at least 8 minutes long) do you play to help to you out?
One of Castro’s favorite’s is “Love Hangover” by Donna Summer. The 12 inch is somewhere around 10 minutes long.  I have a track by Gotan project that’s eight minutes that I like, and also a Nina Simone track off of “Verve Remixes” that’s seven and some change that will give me time to pee or smoke a quick one. Other than that I can always drop one of Krazerock’s mixed c.d.s.

Do you drink on the job?
Always, but never to excess. F.Y.I. - always get your check before the client gets drunk.

What was the best time you had DJing?
This is a tough one. Castro had a house party a few years back at 222 Chamberlain St., and I got there at 3:30am after my Kings shift and went straight to the decks. I think that my be my personal playoff high. Also two weddings stand out - Les and Nicole Stewart and Trent and Michelle Bowles. That was some of our best work.

What was the worst time you had DJing?
The Trading Spaces season wrap party at Bickett Gallery. It was a paying gig and Castro and I were very excited to do it. I thought these uptown New York types would appreciate some big city sounds. but when some chick (and she was hot) yelled out to me, “Play some Britney” I was done. I called Castro to take over and I camped out at the bar. I had a headache too.

Anything you’d like to say to your listening public?
Please support the wonderful music coming out of Durham. Foreign Exchange is making some of the best hip-hop and soulful r&b this side of Philadelphia. Also don’t be afraid of house music. It’s not all techno. No music demonstrates the ideas of openness, inclusiveness, acceptance and tolerance more than house. I’ve traveled a bit, and I’ve been to house parties in other parts of the country and the world, and believe me where there’s house music - good, deep, funky, soulful house music - there’s love in the room.

DJ Castro

How long have you been DJing?
I’ve been DJing since April 1996.

Where/when do you DJ?
Friday night at The Globe Restaurant in Glenwood South. Saturday night at Alibi.Sunday at Alibi is Neu Romance.

What kind of equipment do you use?
Technics 1200’s turntables, Pioneer CDJ’s, Pioneer mixer.

What are your favorite songs to play?
Electric Relaxation by A Tribe Called Quest, Into The Groove by Madonna, The Bomb by The Bucketheads, Music Sounds Better With You by Stardust. Most of my Disco 12 inch records

Do you ever get tired of playing certain songs?  If so, which ones and why?
Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing. The young folks act like that’s the only song Journey ever made. The Soprano’s last episode killed it for DJ’s!

When DJing, surely you must have to use the restroom or take abreather.  What kind of “break” songs (at least 8 minutes long) do you play to help to you out?
Take Your Time (Do It Right) by SOS Band, Spottieottiedopaliscious by Outkast (Both area little bit under 8 minutes)

Do you drink on the job?
If you’re buying!

What was the best time you had DJing?
It’s a tie. Spinning at all the big rock shows at Kings. They were so awesome!  Also at Kings one time I was spinning on a bill that Maceo Parker was playing on with his son and I got to hangout with him and his family plus he autographed my original pressing JB’s Food For Thought LP!

What was the worst time you had DJing?
Chico & I were DJing this wedding and no one would dance regardless of what songs we played. It was the most boring time I’d ever had DJing.

Anything you’d like to say to your listening public?
Thanks for all the support over the years and keep dancing!

Read More

Restaurants, Other posts by Vince.


Night LifeDJNeu RomanceMadcowCastro


  • reed
    02/11 02:16 PM

    These guys, along with Mark Toney, are my favorite DJs in Raleigh.  I always look forward to spinning with them or hearing them play.

  • Chico
    02/11 06:53 PM

    The photo of Shaun and I together was taken by Abby Ladybug. Thanks!

  • Celia Fate
    02/12 12:05 AM

    Ah! The party boys on the front page! No one is more passionate about making Raleigh throw down one night & exposing them to an encyclopedia of musical roots the next. They can even please a roomful of 100 feisty rollergirls and a family wedding party in one harmonious, thumping venue at the same time.

  • aburtch
    02/12 11:06 AM

    Both these guys are great.  They really know how to bring the party!

  • Les
    02/12 12:54 PM

    Awww, That wedding stands out for us too! If Downtown Raleigh were a movie Madcow & Castro should arrange the Soundtrack. And talk about being able to read a crowd and respond, Black & Mild are Masters!

  • MR
    02/12 01:30 PM

    Right on…these guys did my crazy wedding party and we’ve been friends ever since. Chico and Shaun…YOU ROCKETH.

  • TheWaveLife
    02/12 04:40 PM

    Chico, Shaun & Mark… Keeping the ladies sweating since 1996! ;-)

  • DJ MARK T.
    02/13 01:18 AM

    I ALWAYS look forward to spinning with the “Sweatt Brothers”!! I have learned soooo much about music from Shawn and Chico since I have known them, and I appreciate the love they have show the “kid from Brooklyn”!!!

  • mark
    02/15 08:51 PM

    Giving Raleigh some cred since 1995. Chico and Shaun kick ass yet keep it real.

  • pete
    02/17 01:38 AM

    these two are not only amazing DJ’s but they bring a love to downtown that is unseen by most.  I had the absolute pleasure to work with Chico for a little over a year and not only can we talk about music(I listen to punk rock) he also knows,seen,done,supported, and helped turn downtown around.  Not from Nc originally I had no idea how much the city had evolved and grown.  Chico on many nights would tell me some of the best stories about Raleigh and what it means to him.  Truley a great guy with a nack for music and a love for Raleigh.  Whether your sitting at the bar with Chico slinging drinks or you meet him at a club he is one of those guys that always wants to chat and really wants to meet everyone in this town.  So gentlemen keep up the amazing work and hopefully I will see you guys dj at my wedding too.  Cheers keep spinning.

  • Vern aka dj cut-less
    02/25 07:01 PM

    Many a gig were booked as a result of knowing these cats.  Good peeps that still play vinyl…gasp!

    My first memory of Chico - “Hey Vern, come watch me mix records and mix drinks at the same time!”

    My first memory of Shaun - “Damn, where did a white boy like you get so many funky records?”

    Stronger than a 15 year old bottle of Brut cologne.

  • SPCLGST......
    03/05 08:52 PM


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