In a dance-club landscape that features Top 40 hits in heavy rotation, one local DJ duo sticks out like a witch’s nose. As Brothers of Midnite, Justin East and Dan Cuccia (aka Dan Ocean) piece together throbbing, funereal jams from deep within the damp recesses of Internet music blogs and their aging record collections. Their selections turn the usual DJ role on its head — no, you probably won’t know the songs, and no, you might not be able to dance to them. They trade the club party atmosphere for a bizarre, almost frightening one.
And that is exactly what they’re going for. “I think we’re both just on the path of trying to find something different all the time,” Cuccia says, barely audible at Mootsy’s last Wednesday evening. He’s soft-spoken, unintentionally making the point — in this bar full of loud, excitable drunks — that being different can come without ego.
The songs that make up a Brothers of Midnite set are “definitely not what they’re playing in the clubs,” East says, even quieter than Cuccia. Their sets regularly feature fringey electronic genres: drag, witchouse, goth, grime. “We’re not going to play at the Marquee. Not because we’re assholes. … It just wouldn’t be our scene.”
“You kind of have to come to know what we’re about or what you’re getting” to get into their sets, Cuccia says.
If dance-club DJs are the ones playing the prom, consider Brothers of Midnite the kids that are throwing the after-party at the graveyard out side of town. East and Ocean acknowledge that the music they play and where they play it makes them the odd men out. But it’s a point of pride.
Perhaps just as unorthodox as their song choice is their performance style. Rather than play a “set,” they simply go back and forth — sort of like a call and response. They don’t necessarily know what they’ll play next until they’ve heard what the other has selected.
Also bizarre is their approach to publicity.
Their posters often feature inverted crosses and moody black-and-white photos. They promote themselves more like cult leaders than musicians.
That shock value is part of the reason they do what they do.
“That’s why we started it in the first place,” says East. “We knew [this] was something that wasn’t happening.”
“We’re both in relationships, so it’s definitely not for a female presence,” Cuccia reassures.
The duo has released two mixtapes, both of which are available on Soundcloud, that provide a general idea of what to expect from their set. Glittering, icy synths shiver over thick bass lines and hissing, cymbal-heavy hip-hop beats. You can almost hear the fog hovering over each track.
“People like it,” Cuccia says, “and people seem to come back.”
Brothers of Midnite • Fri, March 23, at 9 pm • Mootsy’s • $3 • 21+ • Visit soundcloud.com/ brothers-of-midnite • 838-1570