Meet DJ Seven Whales: the Official DJ of Detroit Bookfest
“I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”-DJ Seven Whales
Detroit Bookfest wouldn’t be Detroit Bookfest without the power of music. It helps transform and enhance the event into something visceral and multi-dimensional.
We especially like the funk, the whole funk and almost nothing but the funk. Our deep love o’ great gobs of funk music was initially inspired by attending Frank Raines monthly Funk Night parties in Detroit where one discovers you can levitate without actually levitating.
For years, DJ Zig-Zag (Jason Ratcliffe) graciously spun for us since the beginning of Bookfest but life has taken him beyond the Motor City. We thank Zig-Zag for his support and will miss his vibes at Bookfest. After his departure, the first great DJ whose named popped into my cabeza was Seven Whales.
DJ Seven Whales, real name JR Jones, is a native Detroiter and an eminently creative individual. He is also Market Operations Analyst @ Eastern Market and has been a treasured member of the Detroit Bookfest Committee since our inception.
Born November 30, 1989 on Detroit’s Northwest side, JR graduated Mumford High School (off Wyoming and McNichols) and went on to graduate from Specs Howard School of Media Arts with a degree in graphic design.
But most of all, JR hails from a highly creative family.
The Creative Lineage of Seven Whales
“I’m into all types of music, rock, rap, whatever. I just love music.”
“Growing up, everybody in my family was listening to music all the time. My dad is a big jazz and funk fan. Two of his favorites are Grover Washington Jr. and Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson. My mom loves soul, especially Erykah Badu and Sade.”
“My dad was born in Detroit and played piano when he was younger. My mom is from White Castle, Louisiana near Baton Rouge and was a painter. And me, being a kid growing up in the 90’s, I was influenced by their natural creativity and all the great music coming out at that time.”
Eastern Market: pull out a map and mark it
JR started working at Eastern Market Partnership in February 2014.
“Initially, I was working security. We call it CSS, which stands for Customer Support Service. Then I was promoted to Market Operations Analyst.”
“I love the Eastern Market community. Our neighborhood is a great mix of young to old, artists to nutritionists, it’s very diverse. I also just love the art community in Detroit in general.”
“I work at the Market with the infamous Lonni Thomas. She’s great, we have a lot of fun together. My favorite Lonni Thomas story is one time we were closing up after a Sunday Holiday Market. We were carrying stuff down to the basement and I fell slowly down the stairs and Lonni just watched me. She did help me up afterward though. It was one of those funny slow-motion can’t stop from falling falls with her just staring at me.” (laughs)
“I love Detroit Bookfest at Eastern Market. It brings out the diversity, everyone, buying amazing books and materials. It’s especially impressive during an age in history where everything is mad digital. It’s also far from what you think of when you think of a typical book event. Reminds me more like an all-inclusive community block party. It makes the concept of reading and collecting books fun, especially for younger people. It’s a one-of-a-kind event, honestly. I look forward to it every year. And now I’m excited to be DJ’ing it.”
“My favorite book is ‘The Tao of Wu’ (2009) by Wu Tang’s RZA. It’s a philosophy book about the many paths to enlightenment. RZA has a unique mind, the way he puts different concepts together is interesting.”
JR Jones becomes DJ Seven Whales
JR has been DJ’ing since March 2019.
“When I spin, I like to create a vibe. I spin with emotion and energy.”
“I’ve had a lifelong love of music and always wanted to DJ. My uncle took me to Guitar Center one day and showed me a DJ controller and I was hooked.”
“I gotta give a shout out to my man Sam. Sam Morykwas is the senior marketing manager here at Eastern Market and he’s also a great DJ. He taught me a lot about the craft and even gave me some equipment to help get me started.”
“Mainly, I’m a house party DJ, spinnin’ the dopeness, but I love DJ’ing all types of events.”
“Don’t have one particular style of music. I try to spin stuff the world would love to hear, whether they know it or not. I’m tryna hit y’all with things you don’t know. The idea is to put you onto good music.”
“My DJ name Seven Whales came from two sources. One is the book ‘The Legend of the Seven Whales of Ngai Tahu Matawhaiti’ (1988). It’s an African legend about a tohunga transforming seven whales into seven hills.”
“Another influence was a song in which Sir Michael Rocks talks about saving the whales. We misheard it as seven whales. The song is called ‘What do you Do’.”
“My favorite DJ’s are Kaytranada, Joe K, Detroit’s own PBH (Problematic Black Hottie), and honestly my man Sam Morykwas. My goal is to learn, not copy, but learn from other DJ’s.”
The Fun Stuff
“Favorite eateries in Detroit? Man, how much time we got? Could be here a while, there’s so many. At this particular moment in time, my top three are:”
Coop Caribbean fusion inside Detroit Shipping Company (474 Peterboro St, Detroit) “this is my guilty pleasure place”
Bash Izakaya (5069 Trumbull, Detroit)
Fat Salmon Sushi (11411 Joseph Campau Ave, Hamtramck)
“When I’m not DJ’ing or exploring the rich culinary scene in Metro Detroit, I’m usually exploring different ways to be creative.”
“Ink drawings, photography, watercolor painting, etc. I also like cruising the city on my bike. You can see me riding my Fuji Absolute around town.”
“Sam and I spin Wednesday Night Vibes every week on Zoom from 8pm-11pm. You can find the link on IG @djsevenwhales.”
“We also did a commercial for the Detroit Tigers and one for George Gregory Clothing and we have some more things in the works.”
“I’m a sneakerhead, a cool nerdy kid from Detroit. You’ll see me at events. I’m just tryna add sauce to the world.”
DJ Seven Whales is available for gigs. Book him for your next event!