Back in August of 2008 I was on one of my romps through Nationals Park, checking out the sights, looking at women and taking photos when I took a quick break off to the side at the Centerfield Gate. I was just looking cool and confident when I suddenly heard a nice beat coming from a small tent just off the Red Loft.
Walking over, I was surprised to find a man behind a turntable and graffiti-ed lab top putting out the most satisfying and funky sound I have ever heard at a ballpark. I snapped a photo of him and walked over to ask who he was. Removing his headphones for a moment he said, “Stylus Chris.”
It was the first time I met Chris Stiles, aka DJ Stylus Chris, and it was the first time I heard his music. It was certainly not to be the last time.
Perhaps you have seen him or more likely heard him scratching at Nationals Park already. Usually decked out in a Nats cap and Nats t-shirt or jersey, one might think Stiles is just a “paid head” who occasionally comes out to the Park to play some music and then go home. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Chris Stiles is a D.C. legend to the DJ and music culture of the city. He is a well-known and respected deejay among fans and peers, he helped open the now deceased but famous D.C. store DJ Hut and the parties that he puts together as a promoter have been called legendary.
He is also a diehard Washington Nationals fan.
The March 2010 issue of On Tap Magazine has an in-depth article on Stiles’ career as a musician which also includes a photo from the NQ, but we were a little more curious about Stiles’ thoughts on baseball. He is booked at the biggest party-zone on South Capitol St., after all and we always wondered: how did he score the Nationals Park gig? Who wouldn’t want that job other than Felipe Lopez?
Chris took some time out of his day to have an e-mail interview with the NQ and we found that not only does Chris have a passion for music, but also for the sport of baseball. Nats baseball. The only baseball that counts.
NQ: How did you score the Job of Jobs: becoming Washington Nationals DJ?
CHRIS STILES: “Long story short, I was sitting next to a couple of the girls from the Marketing Department at a Wizards/Heat playoff game. It was the first year of the Nats, and we were talking about how they had an open slate to do things no other team had done yet. Only problem was RFK just wasn’t suitable. We kept in touch and when the new Stadium opened, they put me in contact with TD, (The Events Coordinator) and we hit it off. The Nationals Organization is very forward thinking in there approach to bringing people to the stadium.”
NQ: What are some of the perks of being a DJ for the Nats and performing at Nationals Park?
CHRIS STILES: “Free tickets!!! Good parking, good seats, mingling with the fans, being able to play music I love and seeing the reaction. Did I say free tickets?”
NQ: In your messages to us you describe yourself as a “baseball junkie.” What do you mean by that exactly? Do you consider yourself a Nats fan?
CHRIS STILES: “I love all sports. Of course, NFL Sundays rule. However, baseball is more than a sport. It is truly a pastime. It transcends the field. I could go on quoting “Field of Dreams” for hours if you like (my favorite movie and book “Shoeless Joe” of any sorts). My Great Grandfather was a local team Manager during the depression in West Va. It was the whole town’s way of relaxing on a summer night during extremely stressful times. American Culture today has so many different hobbies and such. But back then, it was baseball. It was the Blue Collar American’s nightly theatre. The crack of a bat is a beautiful sound (like a perfect snare on drum kit). I used to love the way my uniform would smell after a game. I actually can still remember my Dad taking me to buy my first glove and going out in the yard for a catch. Okay I’m getting kind of teary-eyed…..so to answer the second part of your question: I LOVE THE NATS!! Living in the DC area for most of my life, I have been lobbying for a team for years. I used to call into Sports Talk shows coming home from DJ gigs at 4am and go off about how driving to Baltimore would take 3 hours during rush hour. Baseball is a past time but that was just ridiculous!!!”
NQ: The sport of baseball is known more for it’s “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” cracker-jackish music. Do you think there is a future relationship between the game and your style of hip-hop/funk?
CHRIS STILES: “Absolutely. I would love to have the opportunity to do the music during the games. I still have a respect for the traditional. However, there are ways to bring a common ground with it so we can bridge the generation gap. That’s my philosophy when I DJ at the stadium. I like to take a “Classic” and upgrade it with a more modern beat. I have two good buddies who are producers/engineers (and baseball addicts) and if they let us get a hold of the internal music we would have the time of our life.”
NQ: What has been the reaction from Nats fans when they see you perform?
CHRIS STILES: “It has been great. Most people come by and give a head nod or thumbs up. Some stand around for 45 minutes just enjoying the music and checking out the gear. The kids ask if they can “Scratch” and then ask me to play something I know would get me in trouble…hahaha.”
NQ: Have the final word on what every Nats fan has been talking about. Stephen Strasburg: the real deal or not?
CHRIS STILES: “Who? Haha.. I really hope so. I believe so. I just don’t want to see him out there if he’s not ready. I want to see him excel in a Nats Uni for 10-12 years. I was going to be really disappointed if the Nats didn’t sign him last year. He earned respect from me for getting the deal done.”
NQ: Who is your favorite Nats player?
CHRIS STILES: “All-time Nat: Nick Johnson. Mr Baseball. He actually threw a ball to me during the inaugural season when he was having such a stellar year. He was coming across the pitcher’s mound and I was yelling “MVP, MVP”! He somehow found me in about the 10th row behind the dugout, gave me a nod and threw me a rope. I had a beer in my hand and it was a little high, but there was no way I was going to drop a ball throw to me by my favorite player!
Current Nat: Ryan Zimmerman. “Yo Zim, you gotta let me work on your music when you come to the plate!!!”
NQ: Are there any players that you know of that are a fan of your music?
CHRIS STILES: “None specific, but when we do promo events, they always seem to enjoy the music. There are several Caps and Skins that show up at some of my weekly club gigs (don’t want to name-drop) but they are extremely cool and down to earth. The funny thing is, I’m in awe of them, yet they come up to the DJ booth so humble and respectful, then say “hey the girl I’m with wants you to play…”
NQ: How do you think the Nationals will do in 2010? What do you look forward to the most this year?
CHRIS STILES: “I think we will be more competitive than people expect. I don’t think .500 ball is an exaggeration. We lost so many close games early last year, that set a bad tone. If we can be strong in the first few months, we will have a team that the DC area can be proud of and come watch. I look forward to just being able to continue what is my “Field Of Dreams” job and becoming more acquainted with the great Nats Fans!!!”
Special thanks to Chris for talking with us. There is definitely more behind this musician than meets the eye. DJ Stylus Chris will be performing once more at the ballpark in 2010. Definitely check him out. If you can’t wait, there is a ton of scratching, photos, performance times and sonic going on over on Stylus Chris’ Myspace page and on his Facebook.