If you’ve ever been to Dolores Park in the afternoon and heard somebody playing soft electronic music that gradually escalated to headbang-worthy dubstep with a bass drop that made your knees buckle, that would be DJ Cheese.
Cheese is a lifelong San Francisco resident who is unhoused, and spends a few hours every day at Dolores Park making music.
“I usually start out playing, like, chill music where it’s mellow, relaxed … Then what happens is, I go to the house music, it starts out sounding like a rave, where it’s really super heavy and fast,” Cheese said. “Eventually I mellow out to some bass house, then some deep house, maybe some tropical house, definitely some melodic house. Then I kick it up a notch, go to trap music, then I legit go dubstep.”
Cheese said he enjoys creating a great atmosphere for people through his music, and also shares his work online. His Instagram, Twitter and Mixcloud usernames are all “Best EDM Mix Daily” because he said that is a succinct summary of his work.
“Sometimes people start leaving in the middle, which is fine, you know. You can’t please everybody all the time,” Cheese said as he rolled a joint.
It’s clear he has some admirers. As he talked, two children no older than five and seven – their mother not far behind — ran over, yelling, “Cheeeese.”
Cheese chatted up the kids while simultaneously storing his weed. He later explained that he met the family while playing at the park, and they are just one example of the many people from varying backgrounds and ages that he meets while pursuing his passion.
But it’s not all friendly kids and park concerts, Cheese explained. Keeping his dream alive while dealing with housing insecurity is no easy feat.
“The most challenging thing, for me, is to keep my stuff charged up. I used to work out of cafes. Now, of course, they’re not letting people sit in cafes,” Cheese said.
Now, he prowls for outlets on the exteriors of buildings, and gets as much charge as possible before a security guard comes to shoo him away.
The rain also poses a serious threat to the laptop and speaker.
“I sleep inside a tent, but I don’t want to get my tent wet, because if I don’t dry it right away it can get all yucky … On rainy days, I either have to stay with a friend or be in a doorway where I’m not getting rained on,” Cheese said.
Despite the hardships, Cheese said he has no plans to stop making music, and invites readers to come enjoy his tunes or, better yet, buy a CD.
“If you’ve been to Dolores Park, you probably already know about me or you’ve heard the incredible music and now you know where it’s coming from,”Cheese said.
“Whatever you do, don’t ask me to turn my music down.”