For quite a while, I’ve wanted to give back to the community. I wanted to share the experiences, good and bad, that I’ve had along my career as a DJ and vinyl record collector. Although I’ve lectured before, most recently at The Strand Book Store for the Dust & Grooves project, I jumped at the chance to be able to talk to high school students at an elite vocational school in Monmouth County New Jersey. Communications High School located in Wall, NJ is a school like I’ve never seen before. County run, it features the best of the best students (who test to get in) that will focus on radio production, television broadcasting, print and graphic design, photography, and more. One of their professors, Bill Bengle, , who I attended college with and also worked at our university’s radio station with asked me to come by and speak to the students about my career as a DJ, and vinyl culture in general. I jumped at the chance. Most I figured, were ill informed or had no idea about vinyl records, so this was a great chance to interact with the youth and tell them exactly what it’s like to be an artist, and how vinyl records changed my life forever.
My favorite question of the day: “What kind of job would you recommend while learning to DJ?”
I arrived about an hour early to set up the turntables, pull out the vinyl, and had free reign on the white board. The theme for the day was: “The Hustle Is Real”. The lecture started at the beginning, my love of vinyl, and how I got into DJing. I went through the my history and love of vinyl from the my first record, to what happened at my gig the previous night. I did not sugar coat what it’s like to be a working class DJ, or how difficult it can be at times. I talked about the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, but I wanted to focus on the individuality, that each and every one of them, no matter what they choose to do in the arts, can do it. They have the power to control their destiny through perseverance and hard work. Anything is possible and you have the control. I gave some demonstrations on basic DJ techniques, and a short history on records that influenced me, from James Brown to Run DMC to Dilla. During the Q & A part of the lecture, these bright points of light that are our future asked me questions like: “What is the most important thing or thing(s) you need to know if you want to be a DJ?”, or possibly my favorite question of the day: “What kind of job would you recommend while learning to DJ?” These students are perceptive and inquisitive, and I couldn’t have asked for a better audience. Alas, the hour lecture went by way too fast. I could have spoken to them about DJing, vinyl record culture, and what to expect if you want to go this way for a few more hours, but that leaves room for another visit. I’d like to thank the staff and students at CHS for having me guest speak at the school. It was an honor and a pleasure, and I look forward to coming back to speak again. Feel free to contact me at any time with any questions you have, and I’ll be happy to answer them to the best of my ability.