Monday, March 01, 2004

james deep moving people

story by Brent Crampton ~ photos contributed by Various Sources ~ February 6th started out as a typical friday morning for me. I woke up and soon made my way over to my Mac to began checking email and the web. I was casually sorting through the usual junk on the Technomaha.com forum when I came across something very stunning. I opened a thread written by Kirill, aka Comrade and my mouth dropped open and my eyes glared in disbelief as my consciousness internally read the line, “I’m sad to inform everyone, in case anyone didn’t know yet, I just found out that James Deep has passed away last night.” James Hein passed away on evening of February 5th at the age of 22 years. He was survived by his parents, Dennis and Margaret; sister, Jennifer R. Hein; fiancee Melissa Haver and the Omaha electronic community.

I soon found myself at the visitation. Amongst the crowd of friends and family mourning the death of James, along the side was a long red banner with white lettering that read, “JAMES DEEP MOVING PEOPLE.” I soon recalled that the banner was a few years old since James had released a cd back in 2001 entitled, “Moving People.” At the time of its conception, the banner was quite fitting. James Deep truly was a mover of people on the dance floor. But in his death, I found the banner to take on a new meaning. While he wasn’t moving people on the dance floor, the medium replaced itself to the hearts of those who where close to him. In his death, James is still moving people.

The Story Of James Hein

James was born in Council Bluff, Iowa in 1981 and moved around the country with his family for a number of years before settling in Omaha. Growing up, James was immersed in music. His mother, Margaret Hein, was an elementary school music teacher and she rubbed her love of classical music onto her children. At the age of two, James was learning how to play the Cello and by age 6, he was playing full-on concertos. At age 10, he bought a guitar and took up lessons, then eventually he made his way to becoming a DJ. As his sister Jen Hein said, “Anything that he ever touched came easy to him.”

He became introduced to electronic music while in 7th grade when living in El Paso, Texas. He would sneak out at night with his friends and attend raves. Then in his 8th grade year, his family made the move to Omaha where he was destined to leave his mark forever.

It was his freshman year in high school at Millard North High, and as the pimple-faced adolescent with baggy pants made his way into his Japanese language class, he noticed a kid with long hair wearing a Nirvana T-Shirt. Then in James’ Orchestra class while playing the Cello, he noticed the same kid. Because of their eclectic interests in choices of classes, James and Aaron Godbout, aka Lunatik, began their long held friendship. Aaron, a senior at the time, would be the one to open the floodgates unto the underground electronic world for James in Omaha, and in the process become his best friend.

Every DJ has their story as to how they took the massive “leap” from being a spectator to full-fledge taking on the art of DJing. James definitely has his own escapade. His newfound friend, Aaron, was doing a weekly at the Cyber Cafe on 108th in Center. Every friday night his crew would bring in a massive sound system and throw a free party. Aaron was spinning on CDJ’s back then. One day while Aaron was on vacation, he let James borrow his CDJ’s. This was the first time James had his hands on DJing equipment for an extended period of time. Aaron says that when he returned from vacation, “he had mastered how to mix.” Soon following this incident, in 1997 James bought turntables, and as Aaron said, “it was all over after that!” James made his first DJ performance at the Cyber Cafe.

Not long after, he was spinning jungle with Omaha old-schooler's - Patrick Everwood, Aaron Lee and Tommie Emmie, and according to Godbout, they “would look at him with sick envy in their eyes” when they saw him mix. His DJ name was Jump, and he formed the infamous Death Squad with Aaron. With the formation of this group, it was able to spark fierce competition in the Omaha jungle scene. It was the Death Squad vs. The Omaha Junglistic Society, which really translated into Aaron and James vs. Tommie, aka Kaoss. So the battle began between who could put on the best show and have the freshest track selections. In James’ effort to out do Tommie, he would call up record labels in the UK and ask to speak directly to the artists themselves. In developing relationships with the artists, he would talk them into sending over CDR’s of the newest material. The CD would arrive in the mail and Aaron and James would remark according to Aaron, “Tommie is gonna freak out!”

The Death Squad formed the perfect duo. In the quest to put on the better show, James began learning the scratching techniques that he would later become notorious for, while Aaron would display his MC abilities.If that wasn’t enough, James was known to bash records on the turntables and throw the pieces out into the audience. He would drop the volume while Aaron would scream at the crowd and tell them to stomp their feet and make some noise. They would even run out into the crowd and spray cans of silly string and throw handfuls of noise makers into the crowd. The Death Squad soon earned a reputation all over the midwest playing in Ohio, Colorado, Des Moines, and Minneapolis to name a few. At one particular show in St. Louis, Mo, the crowd was rather unresponsive. Aaron and James pulled their classic move of dropping the volume and trying to hype the crowd or else threatening to stop playing. Evidently the crowd must not have taken them seriously, because it wasn’t long before James had stopped the platter and the duo began to exit the stage. Needless to say, the promoters of that party weren’t too happy with them.

From James’ interest in scratching, and his natural talent to pick up onto anything, James took on another DJ moniker, Vision, to represent his battle-style DJing, and competed in the 1999 DMC Competition and placed in 2nd in the midwest division and beat DJ Illogic. Under the moniker of Vision, James began playing out to the hip-hop community in Omaha. He was soon a well-respected scratch DJ in Omaha. He competed in a local turntabilist competition, Fresh Fest, and controversially placed second to DJ Dynomite. According to Aaron, James was far superior in his DJing abilities, but lost because Dynomite scratched with his shoe and evidently the judges were in favor of originality rather than scratching ability.

In the meantime, James took a different outlook on his genre style in the electronic community and switched over from DnB to techno. From there James changed his DJ name to what he is most notable for, James Deep. With inspirations like Dave Clarke and Mauro Picotto, combined with his DMC scratching skills, James blew away crowds with his talent.

During the days of James Deep, James recorded a mix cd that he had planned on passing out at the next AM Productions event, “Gravity 2.” He was having a difficult time figuring out a name for the cd, so he went over to his friend Mark Cullinane’s house to brainstorm. They spent all day in front of the TV playing Tony Hawk on Play Station while listening to the cd to come up with a name. During the process, they would be continually moving their heads to the beat. Finally, while putting the game on pause, the two were on to something. Maybe it was the bobbing of the heads, or maybe it was the fast pace of the video game, but they came up with the name, “Moving People.” So Mark made a vinyl banner that read in bold lettering, “JAMES DEEP MOVING PEOPLE.” And the banner hung mid-stage during the cd release party, Gravity 2. I remember attending the party and while standing in the dark atmosphere amongst the party-goers, I could see this reflective banner lighting up as the lazers passed by. James Deep took to the stage that night and began to move people. He hasn’t stopped since. James was at the forefront of the electronic scene in Omaha. He played at most of the major parties to hit Omaha, such as the Delicious events and all of the Am Industries parties, as well as playing along side names such as Frankie Bones, H Foundation, Crystal Method, Nigel Richards with the list going on. In his last year, James met the love of his life, Melissa Haver. They were engaged during the last few months before he passed away. Aaron summed up the stunning event of his death by saying, “I really thought that I was going to be attending his wedding and not his funeral.” James was also working on a new record label, Wreckless Recordings, with his best friend, Aaron. Despite his sudden departure, the record label is set to launch during the Winter Music Conference, with one of the future releases produced by James entitled, “World Police.”

To put it simply, James had a lot going for him.

James’ most outspoken attribute was his socially adept personality. As Aaron said, “it was so easy for James to make friends.” He went on to say, “especially when it comes to the ladies.” James was notorious for his half smirk of a smile that seemed to indicate that there was some inside joke going on that you weren’t in on, or what Aaron said, that “ he knows more than you.” According to Mark Cullinane, “James was the guy that was laid back when he wanted to be, but was ready to go when it was on.” He was known for his intelligence, wittiness, honesty, ability to share and his concern for others. “He has a big heart” said his sister Jen. A good friend of James’ in the early days of the party scene, Tim Grasrick, commented that James never was one to complain about his own situation, but rather was always concerned with issues that his friends were going through.

Undisputedly, James’ passion in life was music. According to his friend, Shawn Patrick, James was “probably one of the most talented kids I know.” And he possessed his talent on the decks even at an early age. “He moved me because he was so young and talented.” In fact, James had a huge impact on the electronic community in Omaha. Because of his uncanny scratching abilities, reputation for having new material and staying on the fringe of change in the dance world, James raised the standard for the DJ in Omaha.

Even though James is no longer moving people on the dance floor, staring at that banner in the midst of pain of his absence, I realized that he is moving people’s hearts. Through the strife that many have gone through in the past month, much has been learned about life. Aaron summed up the feeling amongst friends and family when he said, “I hope that people realize that life can be very fragile and that you have to live life to its full potential.” The fact is, James’ music touched allot of people. As Tim said, “We met each other through music and our friendship took over from that.”

On the day of his funeral, James’ sister Jen, was standing outside reflecting on her brothers life. In her despair and grief, “all I could hear him say was . . . ‘keep moving.’”

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