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DJ of the Week: Tay James (DJ Tay)

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Posted by admin on Friday, November 25, 2011

(Courtesy of Robert Caplin and DJ Tay)

Your little sister may know every word to every Justin Bieber song there is (and you too, we’re not judging!) but Beliebers and people all over the world also know the DJ, DJ Tay.  After graduation from Hampton University in 2009, DJ Tay has been expanding his brand through his website, mixtapes, personal DJ lessons, and spinning on Washington D.C’s WPGC 95.5 FM all while touring the world with The Biebs.  Study Breaks caught up with Tay to discuss his past, his unfortunate choice in NFL teams, and to find out what it’s like to be the backbeat behind one of the most popular voices in the world

SB Kenyatta: How did you get your start DJ-ing?

DJ Tay: I started DJ-ing as kind of a hobby…it was something that amazed me at an early age.  I asked for like, a little starter set and my dad bought it for me for Christmas one year.  I kind of just went on from there, it became more of a profession.  When I was in high school around 16 or 17 I started doing like talent shows, middle school and high school parties, and when I went off to college it kind of took over my life.  In college I was doing a lot of mixtapes and parties; I was traveling from Virginia [Hampton University] to D.C every weekend to DJ just to keep my name out there, and while doing this I was going to school and also releasing mixtapes to further expand my brand.  Bieber came along when I graduated from college, I had my parents coming at me to either stay in school to get a master’s or basically do something besides DJ, I kind of just went on my own and kept working at it.  I get a call from a good friend of mine, DJ Boogie in Atlanta, he told me that an artist needed a DJ by the name of Justin Bieber. I was already kind of up on Bieber because of the blogs, and I was following his career-- it’s kind of ironic that like two weeks before I get offered the job I was like looking at him online singing with his guitar-- so I made the call, and the next thing you know I’m on tour with Justin.  Now we’re here three years later.

SB Kenyatta: So you went to Hampton University.  Do you think that going to an HBCU enhanced your DJ-ing in college?

DJ Tay: Well at an HBCU, especially at a school like Hampton, it was a melting pot of cultures.  You didn’t have just people from the states, you had people coming from Japan, or Africa, or Puerto Rico, and all over the world coming to Hampton University.  You had people coming not just from the east coast, but also the south and people coming from the west coast.  Having people from all over and intertwined at Hampton would help a DJ out, any DJ.  It kind of in a way built me up as a DJ because now I have a vast knowledge, I knew what was hot in every market and a lot of DJ’s couldn’t get that.

SB Kenyatta: How did you balance your DJ-ing with schoolwork and being in college overall?

DJ Tay: I’m still wondering how I even graduated on time.  I really always kept school first, but I realize that I was working a business while in school.  It worked out for me because while I was learning business I was actually running a business. I would learn new things and apply them to what I was doing every day.  The balance had to happen, I had to graduate, [laughing] my dad told me I had four years.

SB Kenyatta: Justin Bieber’s “Otis†freestyle has caused a buzz on the Internet.  Did he run that by you beforehand?

DJ Tay: A lot people say he gets help writing his lyrics and that’s not the case at all, he writes everything himself.  When I heard it I was just like, “Oh yeah.  That’s a good one.â€Â  It’s nice to see him expanding his talent to another field of music.

SB Kenyatta: I know you recently performed on Dancing With the Stars, how was that?

DJ Tay: Dancing With the Stars was a great experience, it’s one of my favorite shows so it was nice being able to perform with Bieber.

SB Kenyatta: You’re doing the Today Show and The View this week, what are you looking forward to most about those two appearances?

DJ Tay: It’s always amazing to be at the Today Show, I believe it will be my seventh time doing it with Justin, and every time with the energy that we get, it’s always a great show.  The fans always come out and support.  It’s a nice experience, especially for a DJ…my parents are excited, they even marked it on the calendar to push the record button on the TV, so I’m just happy to be in the position that I am.

SB Kenyatta: What’s your favorite thing about touring and making all of these appearances?

DJ Tay: Just being able to see the world.  A couple of years ago I never thought I’d be able to travel outside the country.  I never thought I’d be doing that in my life.  I’m honestly just happy to be doing what I love to do.  I love making people jump in the crowd.  I love opening up for Justin and rocking the stage for 20 minutes, I love doing that.  I love seeing the people’s reaction…that’s why I DJ, I DJ for the reaction, for the energy, I get a lot of that especially being behind Justin.

SB Kenyatta: Can you tell me a little bit about your “We Know the DJ†campaign?

DJ Tay: It’s a multimedia, I want so say a blog, but it’s more of a website just to promote the awareness of the DJ.  It started off as that but it’s really just to show everyone what I do.  I wanted a website where I can tell my parents, “This is what I’ve been doing on tour.â€Â  You can go on there and get the newest music from Pink, to Beyonce, to Ludacris.  It’s pretty vast as far as information you can get on the website.  Fans can upload pictures from their favorite concerts, you can download my mixtapes there, you can buy “We Know the DJ†T-shirts, you can watch all the videos I have from different countries from me DJ-ing with Justin, to me walking down Rio, just showing people what there is to do from country to country.

(courtesy of Robert Caplin and DJ Tay)

SB Kenyatta: I know you do private, mobile DJ lessons.  Can you tell me about that?

DJ Tay: If someone comes to me and they want to learn how to be a DJ, why not help them learn the basics?  I’ve been teaching a young lady in Georgia and she’s around the age I was when I started, when you’re young like that you can still take all the knowledge in.  I’ll go down to Atlanta and stay there for a week and give her all types of lessons from blending, to picking songs, to learning how to set up the turntable…it’s been a great experience.

SB Kenyatta: What are some of your favorite tracks that are out right now?

DJ Tay: I’m really liking LMFAO right now.  I know that might be a random listen for me to say, as far as universally LMFAO is putting out some good music.  I’ll go to one of these clubs in the city and hear LMFAO’s “Party Rock†come on, and then go to a bigger Top 40 club and it’ll come on too.  I’m a really big fan of crossover music that appeals to all people.

SB Kenyatta: What’s one of your favorite songs to get the crowd hype?

DJ Tay:  It’s called “Pass at Me.†It’s Pitbull and Timbaland.

SB Kenyatta: I know your team is the Baltimore Ravens, but I’m wondering if you think Joe can lead them to the Super Bowl because people are a little skeptical…

DJ Tay: We might lose to terrible teams, but we come to play.  You’ve seen us beat the Jets, you’ve seen us beat the Steelers twice.  We have a good record and really just have to see what happens in these playoffs, we might go to the Bowl.  It’s all about if Flacco can stay strong.

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