EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: John "CoffeeCave" Murray – I'll Have A Side of House Please

House Music in NJ is a huge draw for this househead. Recently, I did a write up of The Coffee Cave in Newark, NJ, a coffee shop that turns into a House hot spot when the sun goes down. Persuing the cafe turned nite club phenomenon, I was inspired to do a follow-up and interview The Coffee Cave’s co-owner, John “CoffeeCave” Murray. I sat down with John to get his perspective on House Music in NJ and where he expects to find himself, the Coffee Cave and its relationship with House Music in the future.

1200Dreams: For those of us who don’t know, what is the Coffee Cave? Give us a little history on the estabishment.What does the Coffee Cave specialize in? Food? Arts? Culture? Music?

John CoffeeCave: The Coffee Cave is Newark’s urban chic cafe lounge. We specialize in, first of all, food, including gourmet beverages such as espresso drinks, Italian Sodas, smoothies and also a fabulous panini menu. A very diverse panini menu which is comprised of a fusion of carribean and italian cuisine.

1200Dreams: When did your involvement with House music start and how have you noticed the scene in Newark change since you became involved?

John CoffeeCave: I’ve been involved in house music since the mid 80s when I used to work at DiscoRama, on West 4th St (NYC). I used to be in the basement spinning records to some of the top djs who are in the scene right now. I took quite a hiatus from the scene, but when I came to The Coffee Cave and became part of it again, I saw a scene in New Jersey that was definitely underground, definitely hot, definitely loyal, but, in my view, coming from my background, in the Bronx, a very diverse musical background, needed some diversification, some new direction to infuse some new life into it and make it bigger.

1200Dreams: You mention a diverse musical background. What kind of background do you have as far as music is concerned?

John CoffeeCave: I’ve been Djing since 1985 so I definitely appreciate all forms of Dance music, Jazz, Funk and the classics. Also, I grew up in mid 80s in the Bronx during a time when Hip Hop was taking form. The Bronx is much, much more than Hip Hop, because when you went to the rollerskating rinks, there was a diverse musical scene from such artists as Yazoo to Lisa Lisa to the Brothers Johnson, from Dance to Hip Hop. It was all a brilliant musical mix, all these styles together.

1200Dreams: Winter Music Conference (WMC) is a huge yearly House event. Where do you see Coffee Cave House Music having a presence at WMC in 2012 and 2013?

John CoffeeCave: I hope that the Coffee Cave is a major contributor to what the Music Conference stands for, but we have to realize that House Music is not just on a New Jersey level or a New York/New Jersey level, but that House music is global. There are lots of places around the world that have taken House Music to places we haven’t taken it yet, such as Progressive. Progressive doesn’t mean lack of soul. You really have to open up your mind and just get away, step back and see what’s going on out there. Our DJs in New Jersey play the way the play, which is fine, but you can’t catagorize soulfulness of House music based on NJ styles only.

I think there is a lot of room for Coffee Cave House Music to grow internationally on that level and hopefully the Winter Music Conference will be a part of that.

1200Dreams: Speaking of taking House on a global level. How do you manage to get out of State DJs (NY, Philly, MD, etc) to come out and spin at the Cave and who exactly have you had come out to spin at the Cave? What’s the draw when you do get them here?

John CoffeeCave: I don’t do much promoting anymore, as a matter of fact, I’ve never done much promoting. DJs usually come here because of the presence of the club, to hear someone else spin, really feeling the scene and coming at me based on the party and the scene. The Coffee Cave doesn’t really have to market itself that way, it speaks for itself based on the local scene.

1200Dreams: Where do you see Coffee Cave House Music growing to over the next 3 years?

John CoffeeCave: I see Coffee Cave House Music trying to take the international route, expanding on a global level, which means mobilizing to a greater extent and not depending on the physical address of 45 Halsey Street.

1200Dreams: How do you get the word out globally?

John CoffeeCave: We have a couple of ideas, some of them are top secret that are in the works which are soon to come to the forefront and when they do you will surely know.

1200Dreams: You have had big names come through at the Cave, from DJs to performers and will have the Josh Milan video premier of “Your Body” on November 5, 2011. How does that affect your business on a day to day basis? Do you see a growth from fans?

John CoffeeCave: Having top profile names, such as Josh Milan, in the game like that gives the establishment credibility. If you come to The Coffee Cave, it’s a modest space, we don’t have all the bells and whistles of big clubs. It’s about the spirit; the spirit of the people, the music, the energy of House Music. We hope to keep that spirit going and growing.

1200Dreams: Any words, thoughts, events you would like to let us know about?

John CoffeeCave: We have Brian Coxx (Soulgasm) and Jihad Muhamad (Bang the Drum) coming up on December 31, 2011 for the New Year’s Eve bash. They are going to be throwing it down like no other event. For tickets to this Soulgasm / Bang the Drum event, contact us at [email protected]

Thank you John for a great interview.