A short interview with a marathon DJ | Bleader

A short interview with a marathon DJ

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Maht Wells at his DJ booth in Star Lounge
Sitting next to the ATM in the corner of Star Lounge, Maht Wells runs his fingers through his five o'clock shadow (it's a few hours early) and scans through iTunes on the mixing board-sized computer in front of him. Wells has been DJing the coffee shop since 4:48 PM yesterday, and he's got four-and-a-half hours to go until he'll stop, at 7 PM. For the third year, he's raising money for charity with a 26.2 hour live set called Mahrathon 2011 (it's a play on Wells's first name). I sat down with him as he played Tom Waits, the New York Dolls, Girls, and some other stuff over the speakers here (and online, right here) to hear what DJing all night is like.

Star agreed to stay open all night for you?
I had asked if they would be interested in allowing me to have the event here, and they very graciously said yes.

Are they keeping you stocked with coffee?
I'm keeping a tab. I do have my fingers crossed...

Were there lots of people around overnight?
There were a fair amount, but it wasn't necessarily for the event. There was a staff thing and some friends of theirs came by as well. The first three hours, the tip jar had two $5s. And at some point in the night I pulled the money out and it had $100. [Wells just met his goal of $1150 in donations.]

So why are you DJing here?
It was born from a joke, because I do a lot of online DJing [through Second Life and a live stream] and I have a tendency to play long sets. Someone had been bragging about playing for 6 hours, and that was a record or something. I was talking with a friend about how that didn't seem super long. They said you should do a 12-hour set, and I said, why not just make it a whole day? Within a few minutes, I said I really could do something like that if it was for charity.

Why did you choose Heifer International to support?
I think with any nonprofit, their goal is to put themselves out of business, because they're combating something, trying to fix a problem. This was the first time I came across something where their plan seemed to be workable, at least theoretically. The hook for me is that when a family receives a gift of livestock or beehives or plants, the goal is to build from that. A lot of people are like, if you give somebody a cow, then they can eat for a week. But it's not meant to be a food cow. Maybe it's a milk cow or a labor cow...it's supposed to be something that can grow. At some point down the road, if you receive a donation you're responsible for donating an equal amount to what you received. You know, I've had to explain Heifer a lot in the last day, and I still get excited about it.

What was your darkest moment today?
When you do this, there's a series of walls, and second, third, fourth, and fifth winds that you hit. Every year I've done it except this year, there's a fifth wall at 10 or 11 in the morning where I decide feel like I've raised enough money and go home and go to bed.

What's the best song you've played?
I'm on song 372. I can tell you that the last two hours are going to be fantastic. There's stuff I'm not allowed to play—because i like them too much—until i get till to the end.

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