As 2012 came to an end, people announced their 2013 resolutions on social-media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. But just as many people were planning for things they could do in 2013, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member and longtime hip-hop DJ Logan “Element” Howard announced that he would be retiring from the DJ game.
Howard released a statement on December 31, 2012, saying:
“It’s been a good 16 years. I’ve traveled the world, met a lot of great people, seen a lot of beautiful cities. But now it’s time to call it quits. It’s been a long journey. I hope I made everyone proud with what I’ve accomplished in that time. All my DJ homies, hit me up; I’ll be selling my entire record collection and selling every piece of equipment that I own.”
Immediately afterward, supporters flooded his page with posts, some expressing shock and disbelief and others congratulating him and showing their support for whatever Howard was going to do next.
“I did everything I needed to do. Who knows, maybe two [or] three years from now, something else will happen, but as far as right now I felt like it was the right decision,” said Howard about why he decided to retire from DJ-ing. “I’ve been to many different cities, played at huge venues, been on some very big tours and toured constantly. I think after a while I felt like it was time to retire, and why not at the peak of my career? [My decision involved] a lot of talk with my manager. I didn’t know whether to go straight cold turkey, but I would still like to release mixes. But then again, this gives me a lot of free time to try something in a different line. I would like to get into music production and working on my own stuff, so I’m going to try my hand at that and see where it takes me.”
Howard isn’t a typical DJ hired for weddings, he is an artist creating music through the art of performing on turntables, mixing and scratching, creating percussive sound through backbeats and funk and soul music.
Self-taught, Howard learned DJ-ing beginning in 1997 by going to house parties with his cousins and friends, who were also aspiring DJs or MCs. He was also inspired by the variety of music that he was exposed to by his family, which included chicken scratch, reggae, heavy metal, and 1980s and ’90s music.
Once he started expanding his interests, he began to look at local and national DJs for more inspiration. With that came friendships and learning experiences that would lead him to the success he has reached today.
“[A] couple of years after I first started DJ-ing, local DJs from Bombshelter DJs, DJ Z-Trip and DJ Radar showed me the ropes on a lot of things and took me under their wings, showing me what was [possible] with the turntables, whether they were actually sitting me down or I was watching them do their thing,” said Howard. “On an international level, [I was inspired by] the Invisibl Skratch Piklz, DJ Qbert, DJ Shortcut, D-Styles, Beat Junkies, and of course, on the East Coast, The X-Ecutioners, Roc Raida, Mista Sinista, Total Eclipse, Rob Swift, Precision and all of those guys, [as well as] DJ Craze and A-Trak from The Allies. All of these guys were pioneering at the time in the battle scene, as well as being really great party rockers. To see all these guys doing their thing, I was floored many times here or out of state, and to play alongside those guys was huge. I thought I knew it all or [had] seen it all, and these guys always came with something brand new. [There] was always something to be inspired about, and I was always trying to put my own spin on things.”
In November, Howard had the opportunity to work with one of his biggest inspirations. He was invited to perform with DJ Qbert, the three-time DMC World Champion and 2010 America’s Best DJ, at the Musical Instrument Museum in north Phoenix and for a performance at the Monarch Theatre in downtown Phoenix.
“It was around my birthday when I had this opportunity to perform with Qbert,” Howard said. “We had played at three previous shows, but not together on stage at the same time. So when he reached out, I thought he was being nice and letting me know he was going to be playing in town, and I was like ‘That’s cool, I’ll be there and support,’” said Howard. “But then he said, ‘That’s not why I’m calling you. I want me and you to get up there and do something together.’
“It’s almost kind of like I was waiting for this moment and I didn’t even know it. It was an incredible feeling; it felt like everything went full circle. We’re talking about a guy who’s a voice of a whole generation. Growing up, me and everyone who came up around my time couldn’t help but turn to someone like DJ Qbert. He is like Jimi Hendrix on the turntables. That was really huge for me, because at first I was a fan, and to have years go by and have [him] reach out to me and say, ‘Hey, we like what you do and want to do a project with you,’ I was honored.”
Howard also had many other opportunities to perform with and for different artists, including Jane’s Addiction, Jimmy Kimmel, Ice-T and local artists such as Casper and the 602 Band and more.
To end his year right, Howard was presented with the Phoenix New Times DJ of the Year Award.
“I am honored. This is like my third time winning that award, but the fact that I closed out 2012 as my retirement, for the Phoenix New Times to bless me with that award, I was honored and happy,” said Howard.
While Howard hopes to teach young aspiring DJs through private lessons, he will continue to focus on music in a whole new light with music production.
“I didn’t realize how much of a mark I made until I announced my retirement,” he said. “There were a lot of sad faces, a lot of people that were bummed. It brought back lot of memories throughout the years, and I was in tears myself after reading a lot of the testimonies and the things people had to say—not only from the supporters, but the DJs here locally and nationally, that I made some type of impact on them. I was like ‘Wow,’ it was a lot to take in. There were a lot of people that support me 100 percent no matter what I do, regardless if they picked up DJ-ing or not, if they were just in the clubs or venues watching the shows. I have to say thank you to all of them.”
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