A lot of times, we’re moving so fast that we never get the chance to enjoy the moment. And quite honestly, it’s a gift and a curse, because it’s hard to find the balance when you’re building something from nothing; especially by yourself. Today, however, I paused, reflected, and thanked God for the little things. I remember praying for a lot of the things that I have now, and yes I’m grateful, but I’m far from satisfied. It’s that hunger that wakes me up every day. It’s that hunger that keeps me self-motivated. Faith without WORKS is dead, never forget that! #WelcomeToBandcamp” – @DJBANDCAMP
From the small town of Youngstown, OH to rocking stages with the likes of Stalley, Kendrick Lamar, and Omarion, DJ Bandcamp is literally out here killing the game. Whether it’s rocking out clubs, taking over tour stages, or even turning up at a house party he always kills the set and constantly has me saying “Yo, if Bandcamp is DJ’ing we should go!”
As the son of a national recording jazz musician it’s evident that music runs in his blood. During high school and college young Bandcamp was a member of the marching band, hence his name, but now DJ Bandcamp is following the tempo of his own beat and turning his passion into his profession. After earning a Bachelors in Science and Biology he made the transition from teaching high school chemistry to pursuing his dreams of DJ’ing. In 2012 he landed the opportunity to be the official tour DJ for National Recording Artist Stalley, of Atlantic Records’ Maybach Music Group (MMG). Since then, DJ Bandcamp’s resume boasts taking over the stages of BET’s 106 & Park, rocking NBA Arena’s as an official DJ for the Indiana Pacers, and headlining his own international tour. After all that success he’s now embracing one of the biggest accomplishments of his career as he embarks on the “One Hell of a Nite Tour” (featuring Chris Brown, Kid Ink, Fetty Wap, Omarion, French Montana, and Teyana Taylor) as Omarion’s official DJ.
His journey has led him to turn the stereotypical term of “band camp” into an inspirational brand. Join me as I go behind the scenes with DJ Bandcamp and find out what has him making so much noise in the industry.
-Ok, first things first, since you’ve worked so closely with MMG ….Meek or Drake? Who you rolling with?
*Laughs* Man you know what I stay outta stuff like that. I’ll let them run their own course when it comes to stuff like that. For real man I’m trynna stay politically correct out here.
-Ok, I’ll let you slide on that one, but let’s get back to you. What in the world is the meaning behind the name Bandcamp?
Oh funny you ask. So, in high school and college I played the drums and was in the marching band. And, I know a lot of people poke fun at kids who are in the band and who go to band camp, so I just wanted to shed some light on it. You know, everyone is not the stereotypical quote on quote “Band geek” and if you are I want you to embrace that because I thought band was cool. So, I just want people to feel if I’m in the band or whatever I’m doing in life I’m going to embrace that and I don’t care what other people have to think about it.
-So, back before all of the success was your plan always to become a DJ?
I never intended on being a DJ. I never even had aspirations of being a DJ. DJ’ing really happened by accident. I actually went to school to become a pharmacist. I did a 4 year program that got me my bachelor’s in Science and Biology and then I minored in business & I got a certificate of study in Chemistry. The plan was to enroll into a doctorate program for Pharmacy School. I had taken a job with a pharmaceutical company, but within that first year that’s when I started DJ’ing. As I started to get more DJ’ing gigs my job also became more demanding. So, I ended up changing my career path and I became a high school chemistry teacher because you never work weekends, you get summers off, you get holidays, and spring break which were all big DJ’ing times. It was like I had my 9-5, I had everything I went to school for and then DJ’ing was like my hustle and then the hustle started to became the focus and once the hustle started to become the focus I just rearranged my life around it.
-Well it looks like following the hustle worked out for you because in 2012 you landed your first major gig which was the opportunity to DJ for MMG’s Stalley. How did you originally link up with Stalley to get this opportunity?
Well, I met Stalley, and at the time MMG was entertaining signing him. He had a gig in Cincinnati and his DJ couldn’t make it. So, the promoters who brought him asked if I would do his set for him that night and I’m like aw yea coo. I was getting ready to do the set and to make a long story short the set didn’t happen, but afterwards we ended up connecting at an in store & we just started chopping it up. So, I was like yo’ if you ever come across that predicament again I wouldn’t mind coming out and helping you out with your set. And, he was like alright coo… then maybe a month or two later he was in Chicago and his DJ didn’t come. His manager reached out & asked if I would come out there so I went and did it. I did like a lil 6 city run with him and then after the run he asked me if I would be his official DJ. And I was like yo, I’m down. Financially it didn’t make sense for me to leave my job, but it was just such a great opportunity. So, I was like imma jump off this bridge and try to build a parachute on the way down.
-So you went from meeting Stalley to touring with him. What was that first tour experience like?
Oooo so that tour experience was super dope. Just being able to build with my artist Stalley. And also, Kendrick Lamar was on that tour, this was before that Good Kid Bad City album had even dropped so he wasn’t even really grabbing national attention yet. So it was just dope seeing that maturation of him. BET also got a hold of that tour and made Kendrick and Stalley Music Matters Artists and it was like the BET Music Matters Tour. That’s actually what opened up the door for me getting on 106 and park. We had a tour host and about half way through the tour our host had to go back to Howard for homecoming, so they had asked me if I wanted to host. I ended up hosting and after I hosted that night they were like yo’ we need you for the rest of the tour so I ended up hosting like the whole second half of the tour and that’s how I got on BET’s 106 & park.
-How has it been working with Stalley and MMG?
It’s super dope. What a lot of people don’t actually get to see is how normal those guys are. When you’re just sitting with them they’re very normal people, who love sports and kicking it and hanging out or whatever. And that kind of humbles you even more to see that these guys who have all this stardom and power are just as regular as you are.
-I know you and Stalley are both from Ohio and here in Ohio, the motto “Ohio Against The World” is a huge movement. How big is Ohio in your success and the Bandcamp Brand?
Ohio is huge in my success. Ohio embraced and supported me first as a DJ, especially Cincinnati because that’s where I started DJ’ing. Ohio really got behind me a whole lot and they really love the fact that I embrace where I’m from and I don’t forget it. I actually took the Ohio Against the World (OATW) acronym and got it tattooed on my back right now, but I replaced the ‘A’ with my Bandcamp logo just to make it more personal.
-Let’s switch things up! Name one song that always gets the crowd rocking? If you go to any club in the world and play Juvenile back that thang up that’s always gone get the crowd going like I don’t care where you’re at.
-Favorite Genre of Music? R&B! I am an R&B fanatic. You have to get hip to my cuffing season mixtapes.
-Favorite song out right now? The Way by Khelani featuring Chance the Rapper.
-Favorite up and coming artist that you think people should be looking out for? Khelani! I’m telling you, she’s from Oakland and she’s super dope like if I was you I would put it on right now & listen to it. I wouldn’t steer you wrong.
-Ok, you might have put me onto something… That’s what a DJ is supposed to do put you on to new music. [I’ll admit I doubted him, but after taking a listen.. Khelani is dope! Her song ‘The Way’ featuring Trey Songz, that’s my new jam. Google her!]
-Best advice you’ve received from someone in the industry? Wale once told me never become content with the present. And I’ve never forgot that.
-A lot people start out in one lane then love to switch over to another. Like Basketball players who become rappers. So I’m wondering will you be switching it up and dropping any hot sixteens in the future?
Will I be who?? *laughs* No, I ain’t no rapper. I got a Wendy’s rap on YouTube that’s all I got. My Wendy’s rap is low-key hard though. I’m telling you check that joint out. I’m out here.
[What’s that saying.. don’t quit your day job lol]
-Instead of talking about ‘this one time at Bandcamp’ tell me ‘this one time on tour’ that you won’t forget…
I had a girl cry when she met me. Yea, I thought that was like mad crazy! I was shocked that I had an influence on somebody like that you know what I mean, because you go about your everyday routine and you don’t really see yourself on that pedestal you just see yourself as the person that you been your whole life. So for me to affect someone to the point where their emotions are so high that it made them cry when they meet you. That was just an unforgettable moment.
-How about, this one time on tour that you wish you could forget…
*Busts out laughing* Oh my gosh.. I was in DC and we had just came from Philly and my artist is on stage so I’m hyping up the crowd and then I’m like “What’s up PHIIIILLY!!”… Yea, as soon as I said it I realized that I had called DC, Philly. Yea… so that whole little moment I just wish never ever happened in life!!
-Ok lastly, this one time on tour that you learned groupies were real…
*chuckles* Ummmmmmm… I don’t know if you really wanna know that answer…
-Oh Lawd… But, speaking of groupies.. I’ll use this as a transition to into your personal life. Is it hard to manage dating with such a busy schedule?
EXTREMLY. More or less because you gotta just find someone who’s going to understand how busy you are and not make you feel bad for being on your grind. And that’s pretty much what it boils down to because you know how you women are. Women are really big on communication. Women are really big on having their needs met and a lot of times I can’t be there physically or my schedule changes abruptly, so say we made plans for Saturday and then I get a call Friday that yo’ you gotta fly out on Saturday morning, then our plans have changed. So let’s say that happens 3 times, then it becomes an issue. And they’re like why you gotta go and woot woot woot.
-I can understand that because it literally seems like you’re never not working. What keeps you motivated?
Um… what keeps me motivated.. Its 2 fold. Especially being a teacher, there’s a lot of kids who really look up to me. So I know that I have to be a role model to them because I know a lot of them are cheering for me. And I think my hunger for more keeps me going because as a DJ there isn’t a ceiling. You’re trynna make it whatever you want it to be so I think just having that ability to create your own destiny.
-Speaking of creating your own destiny did you ever imagine so much success would come your way?
Not at all. I mean especially because like I told you I never had any aspirations to become a DJ. So it was just like as things were happening or as things continue to happen I’m always just like mind blown and thinking ‘Yo this is crazy!’ I’m still like no this is not supposed to be happening!
-So how do you think a young “band geek” from Youngstown, Ohio ended up with such amazing opportunities?
A lot of it forreal, forreal is persistence and hustle. I’m a firm believer in faith without works is dead. My grandmother was a pastor at our church so I was born and bred in church. I have my own walk with God and I’m very… I’ll say I’m very spiritual. I also think that I had a great support system of people who really believed that I could do it, so that really helped a lot just in my own confidence. And, I took a lot of risks and you know not every risk granted a reward but it definitely taught me something. So I just tried to learn from the mistakes and try harder or think smarter the next time I was approached with an opportunity.
-What would you say has been the biggest fear for you on your journey?
Ummmm.. biggest fear… the unknown that’s what’s scary about life! Not knowing how our decisions are going to affect the outcome. Which is why when I did take the leap to leave my job I was like I’ll do this while I’m young. It was a risk, but it was kind of calculated too because I had finished school. I didn’t drop out of school and just try to do music. I finished school, I got my degrees. So if music fell right from up under me I wouldn’t just fall on my face I would have a backup, that’s why I stress the importance of education so much.
-And, what has been your biggest success?
I’d actually say the unknown again. Like the things that I never would have thought would come my way have happened. Or the opportunities that I reached out for that were a shot in the dark and I actually hit a target. That inspires me every day because it’s like man I never would have thought I would have met Stalley.. I never would have thought I would have went on tour with Kendrick.. I never would have thought I would be DJ’ing in the NBA or on BET and now it’s like I’m about to be going on of the biggest tours I’ve ever been on in my life.
DJ Bandcamp is currently on the “One Hell of a Nite Tour” as Omarion’s official DJ. And, from the looks of things he’s having One Hell of a Tour. Check out a few of these stolen clips from Instagram.
Thanks again to DJ Bandcamp for doing this interview! He left me with some great advice for myself and others pursuing their dreams “Invest in yourself and go for it. So often people are afraid about the unknown and being uncomfortable, but you never know until you try. Sometimes you just have to try something new just to see if it’s for you or not.”
Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @djbandcamp and on Snapchat @dj bandcamp.