Orlando DJ institution BMF – né Greg Lentz – knew something wasn't right a few minutes into his last night at Mills 50's Lil Indies, just before St. Patrick's Day. "It wasn't a normal busy Friday night," he remembers. "Any time someone coughed, everyone would look around. It was nerve-wracking." Soon enough he found himself sheltering at home amid the coronavirus pandemic, with all of his nights at Iron Cow and Lil Indies canceled for the foreseeable future. So, like a growing number of local musicians and DJs, he took his sets online.
Thus far in April, BMF has presented a tribute to classic '90s hip-hop with Yo! BMF Raps, his Set It Off '80s Freestyle night and the Purple Reign Prince tribute night (a longstanding local tradition), all on his Twitch channel, twitch.tv/DJ_BMF.
What BMF does has come to be known as VJing, a hybrid of the classic DJ set with an equal focus on accompanying videos, cut and mixed just as carefully as wax. The visuals are culled from BMF's massive collection of music videos, rare performance clips and related pop-culture ephemera, used to maximum effect for his creatively themed nights.
"I mix music videos just like you would records," says BMF. "I've always been into videos and collected DVDs, and finally the technology caught up to where I could use turntables to manipulate videos and the music." And one advantage of an online stream is that the total focus of the watcher is on the video collages.
This begs the question, though: In the "old days" (last month), a DJ could simply glance up from the turntables and see if bodies were moving on the floor, but how does a DJ take the temperature of a room now? Check the chat room? Well, yes.
"The chat room will actually give you energy!" says BMF. "Just like on a dancefloor where you'd see people respond when you play a certain song, you'll see people in the chat room go, 'Oh shit!'
"It's funny, the numbers are kind of similar to a Friday night at Indies. It feels like an intimate house party. ... I try to make these as entertaining as possible and help people forget about what's going on for a few minutes."
BMF is committed to keeping the party going for the duration. His next event is "Ill Scenario" on Monday, May 4. Peep his Facebook (facebook.com/deejaybmf), Twitter (twitter.com/djbmf) and Instagram (@djbmf) for more announcements.
This story appears in the April 29, 2020, print edition of Orlando Weekly. Our small but mighty team is working tirelessly to bring you news on how coronavirus is affecting Central Florida. Please consider supporting this free publication with a one-time or monthly donation. Every little bit helps.