The Record Store Guy is Always ‘The Guy’

DJmygodcomplex, aka Ken Williams, chose his somewhat controversial name to remind himself to be humble and true—a beautiful irony. From his early love of Motown to his days of being “the record store guy” in Detroit, MI, Ken has not only landed residencies at all the hottest venues in Downtown Phoenix – from Crescent Ballroom to The Churchill to Valley Bar – he has forged a DJ community and become a mentor to anyone interested in learning the art of vinyl.

WOD: When did your love of music begin?

DJ: So my love of music begin through my parents. I’m a child of the 70s and was raised in the 80s, so there were always records, always stereo equipment in my house. My father was kind of a techie, [so we had] a reel to reel and a microphone…

…And then my mom…was into Motown, and she was the same age as most of the people from Motown…So she navigated and ran in those circle—with the Temptations and Diana Ross and such. And so I always heard the stories about the people who I would be listening to in my house. So there’s moments throughout my childhood that I associate deeply with music…

[and] the first one is probably my parents getting divorced was I was about eight, and my mom and dad would play the same album but different songs—my father would be playin Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear…My mother however, [would be] playing When did you Stop Loving Me? So music has always been in the background.

WOD: What inspired your DJ name/Alter Ego?

DJ: I was super shy and reserved throughout most of my high school and my childhood, but going into the Marines…made me a lot more confident about myself my skill set and who I was. So anyway, there’s this girl who I worked with, and [after] basically blowing me off for six months or something…she finally decides to let me take her out…And literally, I talked about myself the whole time, like for maybe about an hour, hour and a half.

And she was so sweet…But at the point that she had enough, she was basically like, Yo, you think you have everything in the world figured out? it’s like you have a god complex!
So that always stuck with me, God Complex, and then I was like, You know what, I’m going to take this name, so that way, it will always reminds me to not be so about myself and to think about the rest of the world remain humble.

WOD: Do you think vinyl is a more artistic medium?

DJ: So for me, it’s never about the equipment. It’s never about the medium…if you’re an artist, you can make art with what’s given to you. So for me, I play digital, I play CDs, I play vinyl. Now, do I have a preference? Absolutely. I’ve been DJing, almost 20 years. And for maybe 10 or 12 of those, I carried crates of vinyl around, but I’ll be 47 in November, and it gets old after a while. Like if I have to play somewhere for four hours…I’m not the guy that’s planning a setlist…I’m gonna just pull out whatever I’m feeling at the time, so as that type of DJ…I had to take a shitload of records. I remember when I first started, I was carrying eight crates in with me to play for four hours just because I never knew where the night will go right now.

…there are certain things that I’ve discovered digitally…and some of that stuff is my local artists that never will have the money to press anything on vinyl, but I don’t feel like their music should not be heard by the world, so that’s why it’s important for me to vary the type of gigs that I take.

So De La, a friend from Chicago, had a night at Bikini Lounge, and she had seen me DJ, and [she and her husband] have a crap ton of records, and [so I went there one night and] I played off their records…And I’m like, Holy shit, this is my chance to play vinyl [again]!

…so I wanted to figure out how to play vinyl more often, And so I was able to set up the thing that I do at the Nile. I stole the idea from Open Mic poetry, but it’s basically open turntables – open vinyl spin night – and we still do that once a month. And I’ve been doing that for five years at the Nile theater in Mesa.

WOD: Do you feel like you’ve achieved community in Phoenix through your art? And if so, how did you do that?

DJ: So maybe about two years after I moved here…The Roots were playing downtown. And [my friend] Greg Moore [a journalist] introduced me to Malcolm Brinkley [a DJ and producer]…[and we] started talking about the potential for Phoenix in terms of music culture…[then] Malcolm told me about Valley Bar, and DJ Vex was planning a night at Valley bar called Afroheat, [so I go check it out], and he’s onstage doing his thing…and I go up and introduce myself. And a week later, he sends me a message [telling me to] come to the studio. He’s doing a radio show…[so] for an hour, we talk about like music. We talk about records. And we just formed this bond. And then a couple months later, Vex tells me he doesn’t want to do the radio show anymore unless it’s a vibe…So I started doing this radio show with him called Basement Tapes [on Radio Phoenix]. Just talking about music and playing music.

[Now, I’m part of ] a collective of nine of us called Record Bar…we’re all DJs. We’re all graphic artists. And basically, we rented this studio in a hole in the wall and made it look really great. And bought some friggin’ cameras and streamed online. And through that, we’ve gotten to the point where we’re slinging some merch, and we’re getting booked all over downtown. We have a residency at the WOMAC…We have a residency at the Churchill…[now] we have this huge collective of people here in Phoenix that play all types of music, so if somebody hits us up to do a dinner in the desert somewhere…we book three people and pay them to play it. It’s all about artistic community.

…I’m at the point where everything that I do, I want to try to lift somebody else up, and, and kind of pay it forward. Because I figured that that’s the way that blessings will keep coming to me.