Welcome aboard and meet your captain.
Jon Mooneyham — who does (and doesn’t) operate under the moniker DJ Bronzai — is the tall, wily figure in the corner of the room, spinning everything from ’60s folk to the ’80s post-punk that pleases his piercing-lined ears. His thick, grizzled, gravity-defying hair pops out every direction from his head, although anchored by his villainous, twirling mustache and goatee.
His appearance lands somewhere between mad scientist and pirate, which seems only appropriate. As cheesy as it sounds, he’s about to take you on a voyage.
“The most ghastly cliché that has resonance is ‘taking someone on a journey.’ Even though that sounds like so much chicken fat, there’s a truth to it,” Mooneyham said. “A well-constructed set will take the listener through something. It’s about the way the dots connect: You’ve just got to find the logic behind it.”
With nearly 30 years of experience in music, he’s a trustworthy commander. He’s done everything, really. He’s played in college bands, spun records in both radio and live settings, performed with The Flaming Lips, experimented in improvised sound performances and currently hosts the weekly “Millions Now Listening Will Never Die” — two full hours of post-punk tunes — on TheSpyFM.com.
He’s always loved live sets — like the one he’ll unleash Thursday at VZD’s — even if his focus has shifted as he’s gotten older. At this point, he’s less concerned about what people want to hear, and more of what they should hear.
“I’ve always liked playing music for people, but my scale of success is to just connect with even one person,” Mooneyham said. “It’s different strokes for different folks. Some people are not going to like anything I play, but there you go. It’s a matter of taste and their prerogative, so go for it, Bobby Brown.”
Be forewarned: He’s not a typical DJ, and his set is (probably) not a dance party. Not that Mooneyham is a curmudgeon — he just has his principles.
All that to me is fun in a brain-tickle level, if not a butt-wiggle level.
“If people are in there dancing, I’ll acquiesce, but it’s not like I’m going to play a Ke$ha song,” he said. “Not gonna happen.”
He’s simply aiming for a more cerebral affair, providing a map with a starting point and a destination, leaving you to figure out how you got from A to B.
“I like to open up people to possibilities,” Mooneyham said. “There are lots of ways to approach that, but if you can get someone to connect the dots, understand what you are communicating — it’s hard to articulate but … it’s a synaptic connection. It’s about what popped up around the corner that you didn’t foresee. All that to me is fun in a brain-tickle level, if not a butt-wiggle level.”
After three decades of doing this, that’s the pleasure he still gets from making his selections. He still digs through old music he had never discovered, as well as looks into the future with new, up-and-coming bands, loving what he finds and amassing a collection that makes the connections all the harder to make. That’s the simple joy that keeps him going, and may leave his heart ticking all the longer. “I turn 50 this month, and I’ve been doing this stuff since I was 20. Rock music is construed as a young man’s game, but some of its beloved practitioners are, like, 70 — full-on AARP members,” he said. “Maybe it’s not young persons’ music; maybe it’s music that keeps persons young. I prefer to think of it in that sense.”