Bradley Burlingame (DJ Medi4) went back recently and mused over the year he began dj'ing in Cleveland, Ohio -- 1989. "There were classic records released that year Paul's Boutique from Beastie Boys, Pretty Hate Machine from Nine Inch Nails, Nothing's Shocking from Jane's Addiction, and What's That Noise from Coldcut all came out in 1989. And they all sound tight when you play them today -- truly great records stand the test of time. But for the most part with DJ's, you don't even get to hear the good records -- by and large you get thrown tired, cheesy and dumbed-down music. A DJ's main mission used to be simply "play great music", regardless of what you called it, not "play the newest stuff, regardless of whether it's still worth playing 6 months from now..."
Studying under Cleveland DJ's Scott Forbush, Robin Harris, and Eddie Lengyel, Bradley quickly was accepted into Cleveland's Club Scene. Gays, straights, punks, goths, suburb kids and geeks all came together on the weekends and danced to everything the DJ's could throw at them. "We threw them New Order, Ministry, The Orb, Deee-Lite, Acid House records, De La Soul, Public Enemy -- whatever the hell we wanted to, really." Residencies at The 9 Of Clubs, The Beach Club, The Underground, and The Smart Bar soon followed. Even after working on air and programming WJMO-FM, a CHR-based urban station for 4 years, a change of scenery was needed.
After moving to Los Angeles in 1997, he found himself thinking about retiring in 2000. By then strictly a house-music DJ, Bradley decided to broaden his horizons, making a conscious choice to break away from convention, and get back to playing the records he really loved, regardless. "I love Sergio Mendes as much as I love Nina Simone as much as James Brown as much as Black Sabbath. Why couldn't I play those artists? Just because other DJ's weren't?"
"It really became a matter of putting myself in situations where I could play the records I loved, the records I knew were great, instead of situations where you're forced to play bad commercial pop and hip-hop, just because it's what the labels and publicists are pushing that week." For Bradley, it meant shifting his focus away from most clubs, and marketing himself to the live music scene and high-end music consultation for retail, restaurants and corporate entities.
Quite simply, the shift worked.
In the last 5 years, DJ Medi4 has played to over 200,000 people, being named Resident DJ for the 2005, 2006, 2007 & 2008 Bonnaroo Festivals, Resident DJ for the 2004 Voodoo Music Festival in New Orleans, Resident DJ for Jamcruises 1-3, and Resident DJ for the Tipitina's Late Night Series for the 2005 - 2007 New Orleans Jazzfest Series, opening for everyone from The Meters to Drive By Truckers, Galactic and Spearhead. On a corporate level, Bradley works with clients like Apple, Nissan, GQ, Nordstrom, Paramount, Rolling Stone, Conde Nast, Wella, L'Oreal, and many many others.
Feeling just as comfortable playing Latin & World-based Cocktail sets in some of LA's best retail spaces & restaurants as he does playing 70's soul, blues & funk in New Orleans music venues, and certainly as comfy as he is throwing down "gauntlet-style" rock and mashup sets at big US music festivals, Bradley says the wide variety of tunes keeps him fresh, sharp and more importantly, it sets him apart from other DJ's.
"My goals are quality and eclecticism. The sets will always change, as the situations I'm in always change. It's rare for me to play the same set twice, but regardless of the situation, the music will be quality. I pay no attention to trends; it's not that I'm not current. I love some of today's music, with the stress on "some". When it comes down to it, I love all kinds of music, so I play all kinds of music, and yes, some of it is "big with the kids", but there's far too much amazing musical history just to ignore it and be trendy I've read about big name DJ's that end up ambivalent about their careers, just because they've been playing one genre of music all their lives, and they're bored stupid. I wanted to avoid that rather depressing reality, and so far I have..."
Splitting his time between being "DJ Medi4" and running his corporate music consultation business, Big Influence Music, Bradley knows how fortunate he is. "I'm a music freak who's figured a career out of it. You don't get much more blessed than to have a job you love, especially after 19 years. As long as there are people out there passionate about music, I'm guaranteed a job, and will continue to do it until I physically cannot... I'm looking forward to the next 19 years of my career!"
Bradley, his wife Gina and their feisty Schnoodle, Tipitina, live in Hollywood, California.