Please note: This article is published as an archive copy from Philadelphia City Paper. My City Paper is not affiliated with Philadelphia City Paper. Philadelphia City Paper was an alternative weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The last edition was published on October 8, 2015.

Here We Are Now
-Patrick Rapa

The Hangman
James Lewes is documenting a very perishable part of the local rock scene.
-Patrick Rapa

Where They Were Then
From Studio to salon to saloon, old-heads recall the scene they can¹t exactly remember.
-A.D. Amorosi

Punk Calling
Diary of a man in a local band (or two) in the early 䢔s.
-179Frank Blank² Moriarty

Getting to the point
the bryn mawr club knows where it¹s going, and where it¹s been.
-Mary Armstrong

Those were the frickin¹ days
Rolling stone¹s david fricke remembers the main point
-Patrick Rapa

The Lowdown
Peaks, valleys and what finally put a fork in The Low Road.
-Lori Hill

Deep Thoughts with The Low Road

October 17-23, 2002

cover story

Tearing Down The House DJ

Runaway model: Narayan poses for <i>Mademoiselle </i>in September 1999.
Runaway model: Narayan poses for Mademoiselle in September 1999.

The life, music, modeling, drugs, death and rebirth of Narayan.

In the beginning of the ’90s, house music dominated Philly’s newborn rave and club scene. King Britt and Josh Wink launched their warehouse parties in West Philly where they introduced Philly to acid house, Andrew Under and David Applejack were throwing illegal raves at random, secluded spots which often got busted, and later, ravers would congregate at Rainbow Playground (now the Five Spot) and “trip out” to the breakbeat madness of DJs like Karl K, Kaos and Boy Blue.

By '93, roughly, Kevin Gimble unleashed Special K Productions (later called Circle) -- throwing some of Philly's finest parties like "Yo Man!" every Wednesday at the Nile (on 13th and Locust, now Signatures) and the notorious "It" one-off raves. There were four DJs in the Special K crew: Rob Paine, Sean Thomas, O'Keef and Narayan. Together, the foursome rocked crowds with funky progressive house, changing the face of Philly rave forever and offering a deeper and more intelligent element to the rave movement.

Narayan DeCaro's involvement with Special K and the rave scene was short and sweet. "I probably did the least out of the four of us in terms of really getting out there," he admits.

Around the age of 16, Narayan moved from his homeland in Berkeley, Calif., to South Jersey to live with his dad. Soon after, he started buying records from Lee Jones at Sound of Market before 611 Records was ever around. "I wanted to get turntables," Narayan remembers, "so my grandfather bought me some Geminis. I set up a little system in the basement."

At the time, he was just another raver club-kid. But, inspired by Philly DJs like Britt, Tripp, DJ Odyssey, Mace, Dozia, Marc Coleman and the late DJ George, Narayan started DJing at just the right time.

"I used to go out and dance at the Trocadero, the Bassline, Images in New Jersey and Franchine's. That's where I first got exposed to club.... I used to really like the feel of those places. Going there was like, ŒOh, this is it!' Those places were hot."

After DJing regularly at a now long-gone clothing shop called B.B.C. (around where 611 is now), Britt invited him to throw down some records at one of his legendary Back 2 Basics parties at Silk City. This was Narayan's first official DJ gig, by all accounts an engaging and successful debut.

While there were hardly any other DJs playing house music in Philly at that time, Keith Landis (a.k.a. O'Keef) was itching to collaborate with other house DJs. "He was totally energetic, into what he was doing, into mixing, into the whole scene," O'Keef remembers. "I was always wanting to work with people, and I asked him to play with me when we do parties."

And this was the beginning of Narayan's short-winded DJ career in Philly. Before becoming a regular, his first Special K gig was during Kick It at the Nirvana Fitness Center (18th and Chestnut). Aside from work with his newfound posse, a plenitude of DJ bookings followed, like regular appearances at the THC parties held at Club Fever, Nigel Richards' Delta parties -- and he was even flown out to Cali a few times.

All along, Narayan would continue to go out dancing when he wasn't spinning. During his outings at clubs like Franchine's and New York's Limelight, artists and photographers spotted him and took notice. He had a tall, lanky body. His straight, shoulder-length hair was smooth and healthy. His skin was tan and baby-smooth. In their eyes, he was perfect, built for modeling. He agreed.

As time progressed, Narayan's modeling career -- mostly for magazines -- began to take off and his participation with Special K slowly tapered off.

"Next thing you know, he came down to Do It from New York, still had his make-up on," recalls O'Keef. "Eventually, as we were doing weekly parties, he was modeling, so he wouldn't always be there.... It became more and more informal as to when he was playing and involved with the parties."

Narayan eventually moved to New York City to pursue a modeling career full time. Success seemed to be around every corner. He found himself posing for big-time magazines like Vogue, Details, Mademoiselle and many others. When talking about the modeling aspect of his life, Narayan comes off somewhat reserved about the topic. "It was weird; gettin' paid for weird stuff."

He goes on with a comparison. "Did you ever see that movie Zoolander? That's like the epitome. It was just a really, really funny time that is gone," he laughs. "The modeling stuff was just like, whatever."

The partying and drugs went a little too far and Narayan was constantly surrounded by it. For a time, he became so lost up there that he wasn't even sure if he had a home. He even overdosed and hovered near death for two days -- one of the last times he ever got high.

"There were times where I was out of my mind just roaming around," Narayan admits. "I was never exactly homeless, but I thought I was.... I was pretty low, in and out of hospitals. It was bad shit."

A little over two years ago, he returned to Medford Lakes, N.J., to live with his father. That's where he eventually recovered. However, it was still difficult for him to kick the habit after leaving the modeling career behind.

"There were definitely different stages of [the rehabilitation]... but it all worked out in the end. I finally came back to this part of the universe," he says. "My choice of drugs got pretty bad.... With the help of certain people, the kindness of people, I never did certain [drugs] again. I just stopped."

Once he was back to normal, he returned to the West Coast to live with old friends that he grew up with in Marin County, outside of San Francisco. For the past two years, Narayan, now 26, has been working as a home care attendant, caring for a paralyzed man who suffers from a neurological condition. A year ago, he started attending the College of Marin to study music fundamentals, music theory and ear-training. He plays a variety of instruments, ranging from the bass guitar to hand drums to the bamboo flute.

"I started a free experimental rhythmic harmony group at College of Marin to gather musicians and utilize principles from school in order to create music rather than overdubbing and multi-tracking. Not that I am anti-overdubbing, but this is just an alternative to that. It's a social get-together in terms of writing music and coming up with ideas based on the class. I do, however, still make computer music."

Although still a fan of DJs and the club scene, his musical tastes have gotten more, well, obscure, since he started school. These days, his music of choice includes the top-40 hits played on the radio, Dave Brubeck, Joni Mitchell, Digable Planets, Cat Stevens, Groundation, and he is a die-hard fan of the Rocky soundtrack.

Narayan's more excited to consider his future, of course, than dwell on the past. "Nothing can affect your musical ear unless you get shot in the head. Whatever you do in life -- that's the great thing about music -- it's always there for you.... None of these experiences really has an effect on how I am going to treat people or take care of people -- as of now, today. No matter how fucked up on the street I was, it didn't take away from me doing this interview and, you know, listening to music."

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