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DJ and production duo DONKEY (Josh Sparber and Mikey Fuentes) are a powerful force in the New York music scene. Catch them TODAY at 4pm EST for their guest spot at Delancey Music Service and TONIGHT at Ladyfag’s 11:11 party.

Tell me a little about DONKEY – what do you do and how did you get started?

We got started by playing around with music production software and shortly thereafter we were challenged to remix a track by our friends The Carry Nation, which turned into our first official release, Warriors. As producers, we’ve remixed a few tracks that have come out on Tribal Records, Get Up Recordings, and Gomination. We’ve also made original tracks, a mixtape series called SESSIONS, and in-store music for OAK. As DJs we’ve been rotating residents at Ladyfag’s 11:11 party here in NYC and we’ve also played gigs in Los Angeles, London, and Berlin.

What are the roles you each play in DONKEY and what are your musical backgrounds?

MF: We both DJ and create beats. I have a broad background in club music so I’m often suggesting and bringing in elements of funk, gospel, tribal, and rave.

JS: And I have a background in piano so I come up with many of the melodic elements to our tracks.

Where does DONKEY begin when designing the soundtrack for an event?

We usually start by talking to each other about the timing of our set: Are we opening? Closing? Who might be on the dance floor when we start playing and where do we want to take them?

The sheer amount of music available today can be overwhelming – how do you find the balance between finding new material and maintaining a solid catalog of classics?

We are always listening to and exchanging new music – it’s a constant conversation. This holds true for new releases as well as obscure tracks we uncover online, on vinyl, or on blast at a party. We love to gag each other with our discoveries. That said, we also love our classics because by definition, a classic is a timeless favorite. But we make a concerted effort to expand our musical horizons on the daily and would encourage everyone else to do the same.

For your live shows, how much planning do you do prior to the event and how much does that plan change as you feel out the crowd and interact with them?

We usually have a rough idea of the DONKEY ride we want to go on, but we also love to lose ourselves in the moment and let the energy of the crowd help steer our set. There are a couple tracks we enjoy starting and ending with but everything else depends on the crowd.

And losing yourself in the moment is also the feeling you want on the dance floor.

We are passionate about music and we love a journey. Whether behind the decks or in the crowd, we get to go where the energy takes us. We’re happy as conductors and passengers – the roles are different but in the end, we are all lost in the music.

What are some of your go-to tracks for a tough crowd?

We both love Cajmere. “Brighter Days” usually does the trick and if the crowd doesn’t go off, it ’s time for the Percolator.

How did the collaboration with OAK come about?

We’re both fans of the store and the designers they champion. We were honored to learn that the owners were DONKEY fans and interested in having us put together a 4-part mixtape series. They encouraged us to be creative and uncensored with our sound designs for their stores in Los Angeles, Tokyo, Paris, and New York.

The intersection of fashion and music is fertile ground for collaboration. How has it been influenced by technology?

We are inspired by innovators and visionaries that make us rethink our day-to-day existence. Computers, smartphones, Wi-Fi, and Airdrop are all technologies that have helped us create and share music. We also rely on Soundcloud and Mixcloud for sharing our music with the world.

Where can we lose ourselves in the sounds of DONKEY?

Check out DONKEYnyc.com for sounds, gigs, and future merchandise.

Photograph by George Evan
Styling by Lisa Bradkin
Grooming by Kateri Giehl
On Josh: Lucio Castro jacket, Glaze pants, artist’s own tank.
On Mikey: Glaze jacket, Nixon watch, artist’s own Elwood tank and OAK pants.