By day, he's Corey Malloy -- dad, husband, electrician, and record store manager. By night, he's DJ K-Ahzz, dark lord of the dance floor. As a veteran of the South Florida nightclub scene, Malloy has done this and that and seen it all from both sides of the decks. "I've been around a while," he laughs. "I started DJing in '84, and I started spinning in clubs in '86." Behind the counter, Malloy shows little of the theatrical K-Ahzz persona you just know is waiting to rip through his shirt like a beat-flashed Incredible Hulk.
Behind the decks, though, Malloy is a man possessed. "Devil horns, makeup -- I go all out," he explains. "I'm a metalhead. I play so dark and heavy, the South Florida crowd doesn't get it." Although he regularly spins his brooding brand of house for large, enthusiastic crowds elsewhere in this hemisphere, local gigs, he says, can be frustrating.
"Usually, I'm pretty miserable when I'm DJing, because no one wants to hear what I'm playing," he says. But that doesn't stop K-Ahzz from creating a little bit of his DJ namesake. On a recent night at the Miami Beach nightclub Nerve, Malloy was spinning a wicked mix of progressive house tunes, per the manager's instructions. "I had people standing on the dance floor in front of me screaming, 'You suck!'" Malloy laughs. After convincing the management that a radical change in musical direction was in order, he dropped a series of hip-hop records. "People were up on the bar in an instant," he recalls. "They went from 'You suck!' to 'Dude, do you have any CDs?'"
As for the current state of South Florida's (in)famous nightlife, Malloy is less than impressed. "I'm hoping that clubs get back to not being so greedy," he says. "I remember when there were no VIP rooms." Malloy believes that higher cover charges and drink prices are actually hurting business. "I love Opium and those clubs," he maintains, "but if I get thirsty, I don't want to spend $13 for a drink."
Local underground parties are also charging more, delivering less. In particular, Malloy decries "the lack of production values" at warehouse events. "A lot of these D 'n' B parties are just crap," he says. "There's a shit sound system, maybe a couple of lights, and they're charging people $30. [Promoters] don't care about the music anymore. It's just a job to them."
Since it opened two years ago, the cozy Karma Records has become a gathering place for local DJs who specialize in trance, house, techno, and even hip-hop. For a dance music store, the interior is pretty chill. A koi pond sits in the middle of the store, along with a golden Buddha. "It's very feng shui," Malloy says.
The growing popularity of dance-music culture has been a mixed blessing for the retail business, however. Having hot wax tracks before they get played out is particularly important to club DJs. "That's what makes you a commodity," he explains. "You're playing stuff nobody else has." Unfortunately, the "everybody's a DJ" mentality has had an unexpected impact on sales. "People will play for a bar tab," he says. "If you're good enough to get a job, you should get paid for it. That's why they don't buy records. They can't afford them, so they download it. They're killing the industry they're trying to support."
Coincidentally, during the interview, a DJ K-Ahzz mix CD was shoplifted.
Ain't no thang to Malloy. He seems at peace with the universe, or at least his part in it. "It's fulfilling," Malloy says of his job, flashing that mischievous grin as he returns to sorting through this week's shipment and inhaling the intoxicating smell of vinyl. He has his rabid following, and that's what counts. "I have the strangest crew that comes to see me," he notes. "That's the crowd I should be playing to."