One of the perks of my new DJ career is working with "real" DJs. I can put a great track on after a great track and so on, but the art form of DJing is, of course, way more than that. I am also a specialist, playing mostly rock and roll, while most gigs require a broader command of genres. Mixed format DJs provide just that; they take their dance floor or table floor through a journey that includes hip hop, R&B, house, pop, rock, soul, disco, and even mash-in or "up" spoken word and …well, it never ends. Even the electronic music DJs playing in front of tens of thousands are dabbling with mixed formats. More and more DJs are musicians, not just people playing recordings of musicians. I asked someone recently if another term other than DJ is becoming necessary. Although I was told no, I kind of lean toward a term like “dance artist,” or something similar to this. I, of course, would still be described as a DJ. To use the same term to describe what I do with Tiesto is ridiculous. The mixed format DJs are the bread and butter of the small club or model/bottle business. They command high fees and are in constant demand. I am signed with 4AM Artist Management and am easily the oldest and least talented of the crew. At the top of the heap are a bunch of young studs who amaze me every time I hear them. Jonathan Totaro is “DJ Price;” he is a resident DJ at multiple venues in multiple cities. Adam Alpert, mine and DJ Price’s manager, gushes like a proud soccer mom when asked about him. I had the pleasure of working with him one night at Avenue.
We DJ’d together one night at Avenue and you spoke of being a DJ that typically works where bottle service rules. Is this situation challenging?
I don’t consider myself a "bottle service DJ" because it’s the art and music and how it affects people that inspires me, regardless of the venue. It’s the best; every night I have to prove myself and my craft. The job can be challenging, but with the right amount of preparation and experience, it can be immensely rewarding. On top of that, DJs working in these environments need to be confident. Often times we are forced to change musical directions quickly, and please a large audience. This takes countless hours of practice and determination to your craft.
When we worked that room, our conversations were about music fundamentals rather than the usual DJ banter. You seem to be totally involved with music. Tell me about that and where it will lead.
I take pride in the job and career I have created for myself. I enjoy working on mixes of my live performances and spending time working on my own personal music projects, from remixes to original tracks. This summer, I will release several tracks from my personal project: "Avalanche", "Let it Feel," and "Daylight." Music can take you anywhere. I never would have thought I’d be traveling the country, playing music to different crowds, and getting paid to do it! I’d like to take it the next step and bring my personal tastes to their ears – music I have been working on for a year will finally be released!
Most DJs are very image-conscious, with clothing/dress playing a major role in branding and marketing. You have taken this farther; talk about your line.
I have always compared music with fashion, and I am really proud of how my line Reason has matured with my musical tastes. What started as a small hand printed t-shirt line has blossomed into a complete cut-and-sew men’s collection, with a retail flagship store in the East Village. The store, named Reason Outpost, is one of my proudest achievements. Inside, you can find our full collection of apparel, as well as a carefully curated selection of vintage clothing from the 1940s to 1980s. The Reason Outpost is located at 436 East 9th Street between 1st Avenue and Avenue A, and we are open seven days a week from 12pm to 8pm. One of my favorite interests is marketing and design. I have always thought of DJ Price as a brand; mMusic and live performance was the product it sold. I am committed to expanding the brand and taking it to the next level.
The music festivals feature electronic dance music (EDM) almost exclusively. Is this a form of snobbery ?
I don’t think you can say that festivals have snobbery in the DJ sets. These are the best producers in the world. They are putting out the music that everyone wants at the moment, and they test out and introduce the EDM music fan community with new music at these festivals. They put on a show and they are creative. Even Skrillex will throw a hip hop song on in the middle of his set. Timbaland and Lil Jon will come out during Steve Aoki’s set… so will Madonna and Avicii. These are just some of the things that happened at the Ultra Festival that show how all music types are being mashed together with EDM, such as hip hop, reggae, pop, and rock.
DJ management has become almost a necessity, especially on your level. With so much work coming at you, what have you learned and how else do you benefit from management?
I’ve learned that with someone like myself who is always busy and pushing myself to be more creative and productive, it is essential to have management. Promotion, booking, invoicing, and invoice collecting is a ful- time job. I value the personal relationship I have with my managers and I value the commitment they have to seeing me succeed. The 4AM team is a family, and it’s comforting to know you have teammate DJs by your side. Having management allows me to know that I am not alone in this business, and that I know I will have some time to talk to about my product. With that being said, you only get back what you put in. You need to be giving your team material to work with; that includes constant new mix recordings, remixes, and your own unique sound and music. On top of that, you need to be able to brand yourself and market yourself. You need to find ways to separate yourself from the pack.