james deep moving people
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.’”