"I was in band camp," he says with a smile.
This 25-year-old South Florida native grew up in a musical family. His father was a producer for jazz and Latin artists; his grandfather was a big-band director, and his grandmother was a singer. But not until after high school did he immerse himself in the electronica club scene with a new group of friends, starting in Fort Lauderdale.
"The one that sticks out the most is the Edge [now the Chili Pepper]. We'd drive up from Miami every weekend. We were Edge rats," he recalls.
In 1995, The Wookee started practicing on his DJ friend's tables. After The Wookee perfected his skills on the decks, his friend handed him a record bag with the Plastikman (Richie Hawtin) logo and announced, "You're a DJ now."
But how'd he pick up that Lucasian handle? "The crew we used to hang out with was deeply into the whole Star Wars thing. One day I was really, really, really trashed. I had a little too much of whatever I was having, and I was making [Chewbacca] wookie noises," the tall, burly, tongue-pierced DJ sheepishly admits.
Walking-carpet nickname notwithstanding, The Wookee isn't a typical DJ. He's not interested in building up a listener base or even getting signed to a record label. He's just about playing good music.
"I think a lot of parties nowadays lack vibe, and a DJ can create a vibe, create an atmosphere conducive for dancing, not for one or a couple but for all," The Wookee says. "I'll play trance and breaks, and I'll play house and breaks. I'll play house and trance. It doesn't matter. I'll stop the record and throw on a drum-'n'-bass track. I don't really care what people think about what I do. I just care about my peers and what my friends think. But, for the average listener, it doesn't really matter. I'm not going to play bad music."
He mostly buys and listens to imports -- with a recent emphasis on new-school breaks. "I think the production from overseas is a lot tighter than production in the States. There are very few producers here who are on the ball," he says. He shies away from labeling himself a DJ who spins any particular form of music, because he doesn't want to be pegged down to one genre such as new-school, two-step, or electro funk.
The Wookee also isn't down with the ubiquitous, bass-heavy Florida breaks. "My definition of Florida breaks is beats with overused samples -- kind of the happy, funky clique-ish-type thing. I hate cliques," he rips. "Any party that plays Florida breaks you'll see a big circle and you'll see a couple of guys in the middle and everyone else is standing around just watching. I think a dance floor should be loaded with everyone dancing, not just everyone looking at two dudes."
The Wookee rounded the Central Florida club/festival circuit, playing DJ sets after moving to Orlando with his wife and three-year-old son Noel. He and his wife divorced two years ago, and he moved to Broward nine months ago to be closer to his son, whom he sees every other weekend. Since then, he's spun such events as The Womb night at the defunct Lumonics, and he and his crew of DJ buds -- including Haviken Hayes, Bobby Flo and Swerve of Positive Note -- threw the Sunday Slam in Snyder Park in May.
Whether he is spinning records or making his own music, The Wookee's goal is to engage listeners. "What makes a good electronica song?" he asks. [It's] mind-expanding and moves your soul. You feel it on the inside. Even if you're in a bad mood, it makes you bob your head," he says.
His own music is new-school heavy, with samples ranging from washing dishes to whatever he captures off his TV, which is hooked up to his recording equipment. He busts out a piece he's working on, a remix of Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."
The Wookee's mixology boasts a dynamic richness of beat-layering and samples. There's never just one sound going at any one time. This style, he hopes, will pique people's interest.
"It makes me happy that I can go someplace where nobody knows who I am, but when I leave they're like, 'Dude, where are you from? That was some cool shit you played.'"