Miles DiPaola Jr. is known as Bear Skin Rug when he works as a disc jockey at Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar in Allentown. He figures he has about 30,000 songs in his computerized sound library, though what he really likes to play is electronic dance music.
At age 25, DiPaola has been a DJ for three years. His goal every night he plays is to fill the dance floor - whether he's a club DJ at a downtown dance club or wedding DJ at suburban banquet hall. DJs and dancers have a special relationship, Miles believes. They feed off each other.
People Talk: What turned you on to DJs?
Miles DiPaola: My dad was a DJ in Olean. He owned a bar back when punk rock was really popular, so he was a rock DJ and we listened to a lot of the Clash. I remember listening to Pink Floyd's "The Wall." My dad was a huge influence in pushing non-mainstream music onto me. It's probably what got me liking electronic music. He introduced me to Radiohead and Beck. He liked alternative indie rock.
PT: Has he heard you DJ?
MD: No, he hasn't really come to Buffalo to hear me play, but I have sent him mixes of mine. He has a brick-oven bakery in his backyard. He's very passionate about whatever he does. It's the same with me.
PT: Tell me what you do.
MD: I take a format, let's say it's Wednesday Hump Day Hip-Hop, or old-school hip-hop. You just do your homework on the music of that era, and blend all the songs together with each other and do live remixing. There's so many different elements you can have when mixing, whether it's beat-matching a song or mixing keys. I don't stay in one certain genre. I don't like to put myself in a box. It has to sound creative and surprise people.
PT: That is your goal, to surprise people?
MD: My utmost goal is to make people dance, even at a wedding, which a lot of DJs don't necessarily like to do but which I never mind doing. I mean, that's where you'll make your most money around here. Some DJs don't like to work weddings because they have an ego about it.
PT: And you don't have an ego?
MD: I try and keep my ego out of it. I get the best feeling when people are dancing, whether they're dancing to the electric slide or this obscure song that I dug through so many different websites and blogs to find.
PT: What's your stance on volume?
MD: Louder is not better. If you are knowledgeable of your own sound and the music you're playing, you don't need to be making people go deaf. But 90 percent of the DJs think louder is better. A lot of sound guys in bars are deaf. You can actually hear the music more clearly through earplugs.
PT: You must have a lot of groupies.
MD: I have friends who come and see me. I'm not trying to be a rock star. I hate that about DJ culture, like everybody's a DJ now. There is a complete oversaturation of DJs in Buffalo. It's just because the technology has come so far that it's not very expensive to be a DJ now. I'm highly competitive. It's all in the show you put on, and the way you can control people with your music.
PT: Why did you select Bear Skin Rug as your stage name?
MD: It's like a writer would use a pseudonym for a book. Bear Skin Rug is only for when I'm DJ-ing downtown at night. It's just a name to me. I don't even take it that seriously. I think DJ names are kind of stupid, to be honest. I thought Bear Skin Rug was kind of funny and also kind of classy. I knew it would be a name that people would also ask about.
PT: What song will you never play?
MD: It would be stupid of me to shun anything. I mean there are songs I dislike. There are certain songs that I'm sick of hearing people request, like Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'." If you're only playing what you like, then you're selfish.
PT: Did you go to college?
MD: I've dabbled in community colleges, so many different majors like nursing to business to a little bit of music. Last semester I had was at NCCC for the audio recording live music production program. I really didn't like it.
PT: Do you feel old?
MD: A little bit. I'd probably feel older if I were more negative about my future.
PT: Under what circumstances would you play the same song twice in one night?
MD: When it's a whole new crowd of people, and knowing that the song will increase their energy level. For example, last week I played the song "Simon Says" by Pharoahe Monch. That's one of my favorite songs lately.
PT: Describe Buffalo's musical taste.
MD: Nineties R&B on bar nights, plus people in Buffalo love old-school hip-hop. We're a college town, too, and a lot of college kids like electronic dance music. If I have an older crowd, I know I can get away with a lot of disco and punk music.
PT: Do you see yourself doing this in 15 years?
MD: I hope so, if I'm not deaf. That's a joke.
On the Web: DiPaolo talks about inspiration at .