By Robert Luce
As the “Leader of the New School” style of DJing, LMFAOS’s DJ Dainjazone feels it’s his responsibility to be an inspiration to the newer up and coming DJs in the business. The former New Mexico State University ballplayer found his true calling senior year when he was asked to DJ a fellow player’s house party. “I remember my friends saying they wanted to hear good hip-hop at the party,” recalls Dainjazone. “And I thought the hell with it I’m going to do this right by investing in a cd mixer.” His decision to leave the world of baseball behind six years ago has led to one of the worlds most downloaded podcast mixes, DJing at the worlds hottest spots and Vegas residencies at LAVO and Marquee. Before he took the stage at the Allstate Arena in Chicago, DJ Dainjazone takes a moment to talk to us about Hollywood politics, “party rocking” and the “new school” of DJing.
When did you decide to make the leap into DJing full-time?
DJing was something that I wanted to do, but it was going to be a hobby while I was playing professional baseball. After the success of my first gig, I continued to do other parties. I finally decided to invest in some turntables because I was a big hip-hop head and I wanted to represent hip-hop properly. I eventually left college and was making money doing house parties and playing at a local bar in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
How did you make the jump to Hollywood?
I was introduced to a promoter named Sean Antonio that used to do a lot of big events back in the early and mid 2000’s in Hollywood. Sean was the nicest and sweetest guy that I ever met—which is rare for a Hollywood promoter because they all, for the most part, have their heads up their ass. And if you’re someone new they really don’t care unless someone big is trying to put you on or is co-signed with you.
Soon after Sean took me under his wing, I was opening up at the biggest night of the weekend at the time which was Las Deux on Las Palmas in Hollywood. This was back when The Hills was big. It all eventually snowballed into me doing one night a month at a weekend spot and then two nights. Soon I became his go to DJ and was doing gigs at least two three times a month in Hollywood and on the weekends after that.
You’re pretty outspoken on Hollywood Politics and how Las Vegas is where it’s at. Can you tell us more about both?
The way I just like to live my life is limitless—no excuses—and just not let anything hold me back. I didn’t like the politics in Hollywood so instead of complaining or dealing with it I just chose to go around it by networking and spinning in San Diego, Las Vegas and other states across the country. Hollywood wasn’t the gateway to success. At one time when DJ AM was alive, Hollywood was the place. That’s where everyone wanted their DJs from. That’s where you’d look to for your next sound in music. After DJ AM passed something was lost in Hollywood.
Everyone is looking to Vegas for the next big things because that’s where all the DJs are and want to spin. So I don’t believe in the whole theory that it’s a good look to stay in Hollywood and spin for a nickel. I felt that you had to pay your dues but I didn’t want to go the Hollywood route and be caught up in the Hollywood politics. And have to do whatever it would’ve taken to become successful ’cause I knew I could do it without Hollywood and I did.
I found my loophole in Vegas through a friend who was a music director at The Palms at the time. By him putting me on there I was able to create a name for myself without Hollywood. I probably sound like a bitter DJ since I didn’t have my way with Hollywood, but I think Hollywood is overrated.
Some of the best DJs live in LA but they don’t even spin in LA. Id rather go to a small city in the Midwest that will rage hard and appreciate the incoming DJ as opposed to the hottest club in Hollywood where people just sit around and don’t appreciate the DJ and just socialize all night. And I’ve proven that my theory worked, it’s just a matter of how you line your ducks up.
The last club I spun at in Hollywood was Playhouse back in February. Although it’s ranked as one of the hottest clubs in the world, I just don’t care to do anything else in Hollywood.
What makes a good DJ?
In a sense we’re artists and the term art comes from being creative. And it’s not art if we’re doing the same thing as someone else. I don’t know what you call that but it’s not art. What gets people going is creativity. That’s what turns people on and keeps them interested. People want to see fresh things.
Being yourself as a DJ—figuring out what your niche is, what’s your sound, what’s your formula in presenting the tracks—I think that’s the biggest thing for a DJ. We need to learn who we are not just as DJs but as human beings. Once you figure that out everything just lines up for you. You can’t try and figure out who you are while you’re still working out your career and sound. Everything is relative. If you know who you are as a person you’ll be fine as a DJ.
What is a “New School” DJ?
I would say they’re the newer generation of DJs that didn’t spend enough time spinning records. I spun records for two years, but I still consider myself part of the newer generation. The last generation ended with DJ AM. That generation I’m a part of is where DJs started popping up out of nowhere because of easy access to a laptop.
When Serato introduced digital DJing software, I fought for the longest time not to use it. But once I started traveling with five crates across the country to Maryland . . . it was not cute.
So you would say that the new school is too dependent on digital technology?
Well the older guys frowned down on the younger ones because they just came along with a laptop and were suddenly a DJ. That’s why they weren’t respected as much as the older guys. When digital programs first started getting hot they would say you need to pay your dues and earn your right to use Serato.
With the newer generation it’s a lot of guys that just want to pick up the art form quickly so they can be like everyone else. Many lack ethics and morals because they just want to go out there and work for free or work for pennies. They just want to work and say they’re a DJ. And when you have a market of people that want to do that it can mess it up for everybody. So I can understand why the older guys would frown down on the younger generation. But not all of us are like that. I’ve never been like that.
With what I’ve accomplished in the last six years I like to consider myself a leader of that generation, and hopefully, an inspiration to a lot of the younger guys. If they paid attention they’d realize that they can earn their cut without running around lying to people saying they’ve spun at places they really haven’t. Playing one track while the DJ goes to the bathroom does not constitute spinning somewhere. There’s a way of going about it that involves integrity and that’s what the newer generation has to realize.
After hearing your mixtape, “Leader of the New School”, LMFAO brought you on as the resident DJ for their “Party Rock Crew”. Did you know that you would end up playing with them on stage during the tour?
I was told there was a high percentage of me coming on the American tour just to DJ the after parties. But when DJ Air broke his leg I was asked to come on full-time.
We had a week to go over the set and then present the tracks to do it in concert form. Musically and mentally I was prepared, but it took me a while to get comfortable on set. That last week before we began to travel I took a no bullshit approach because I’m the one controlling the concert—I’m the DJ.
In my DJing career I’m always prepared just in case anything happens. You need a mix? I have hundreds of mixes on my podcast. If you need anything I have it.
What is “Party Rocking”?
“Party Rocking” is showing up to a party and just letting loose. You and your friends get champagne sprayed on you. You get the crowd involved and the crowds not sure what’s going on. You just show up to a party and run the show. If you want to see what it is check out the “Party Rock Mondays with Redfoo” at Marquee videos online. LMFAO is non-stop—these guys are like energizer bunnies.
Anybody can “Party Rock”, but we got the “Party Rock” crew. We’re about thirty members deeps and scattered all over. There are a lot of groups—like The Qwest Crew—taking over clubs. The glasses, the glow sticks, and the blow up zebras floating around the crowd all came out of Marquee in Vegas.
Which countries “party rock” the best?
The best three countries were Belgium, France and Germany. If I see a crowd going nuts for my set—and I’m just playing music, I’m not even up there on the mic performing—that just tells me it’s going to be a great night. That just tells me they’re itching—they’re ready to “Party Rock”.
If you could have dinner with any celebrity who would it be?
I’m really high on whatever Kanye West is doing. To him its not just music, it’s a lifestyle. And it’s the same way I’ve carried myself. He understands that it’s more than just showing up and rocking a club or rocking a concert.
It’s tough to watch one dude up there holding down a mic keeping it together. There are artists that just get up on stage and perform their favorite songs but don’t do much else. Kanye is all over the place. There’s so much emotion with what he does and it’s inspiring to see him put everything into it and just shut the concert down cause he’s got his whole heart into what he’s doing. It’s art and creativity at its finest.
Would you describe your DJ style as being creative?
Yeah, I think so. I put a lot of time into delivering a creative set since I don’t like delivering the same one. There are certain tracks I will present together every now and then, but I will have about three ways to present those tracks to you. So it’s a similar concept but just a different sound when I drop it.
If I’m copying some other DJ then that’s not really representing me—I’m representing half the DJ population. It’s not fun when you just have to go in and just play music. When you’re creative you have a greater chance of someone at the club stop in the middle of a conversation to say, “hey, that was pretty dope.”