"When I started, I was a house DJ, strictly house music, and then I realized a lot of people get bored with that," says DJ Millions Billions, aka Ned Lampert, on the phone from his Minneapolis home. "So I incorporated '80s and disco and rock and hip-hop into my set to keep things interesting. I try and employ all different resources as quickly -- appealing to all people's ADD -- as possible."
Time was, Millions Billions supported himself as a DJ, lived in Sandpoint, Idaho, skied at Schweitzer, and lived the dream. It burned him out. "I used to DJ mainstream Top 40 nights at dance clubs -- which is like, you know, the same 25 songs over and over again," he says. "It got old."
Relocated home, Ned now embraces variety. "Pop music is folding over on itself and that keeps people with no attention span staying," he says, as if it's common knowledge. "So I make my sets a visual thing -- as colorful as possible. I contrast hoary beats with sappy lyrics, try and work in opposites to make stuff stand out." Through DJ Darwinism, artists like Ned have evolved who tackle our overstimulated society's boredom head-on.
A Millions Billions set is songs blended together, and there's often rapping going on, but it's not hip-hop. "Hip-hop's kind of hard to dance to," says Ned. "I work at about 113 to 155 beats per minute, and most rap is 70 to 80."
The speed and breadth of Ned's recombinant dance pop allows for relentless exploitation of surprise. Minutes into his newest mix, MC Lyte's forthright flow laces a recently released track, the blissed-out "Stardust" by Brooklyn band Escort. It's a complementary pairing of force and grace, and it perfectly captures Lyte's natural assertiveness circa 1991. Moving at the speed of dance, good ideas become revelations.
Combinations are only part of the game. "I pay attention to a lot of blogs and listen to stuff online, and I see things are becoming more abrupt. So I'll take Lyte and blend her straight into the Ying Yang Twinz." When speed counts, transitions are key. "For example, Pharrell and Twista into Nirvana seems abrupt, but when put together it has a seamlessness to it."
The former ski bum works 9-to-5 for a magazine publishing firm. "Now that I'm back in Minneapolis, I have the opportunity to be in an environment where I can play challenging sets. [In Minneapolis] I've been able to play a little higher-profile type places -- even pick and choose gigs -- but I have no ambition of being a working DJ." He does it because he loves it.
Pulling across genres and time periods, Lampert takes a big subject -- pop music that people will dance to -- and implodes it to black-hole density. He makes coherent sense from overwhelming ephemera. As it is for Pfizer, speed is his weapon.
Millions Billions at Club Synergy in Sandpoint on Friday, Aug. 3, at 11 pm. Visit myspace.com/millionzbillionz.