I’m so lucky to know and connect with so many incredible people in the city of Chicago. That’s why I absolutely love doing these features to share with all of you, because these people deserve recognition even if it’s just on my blog.
Today, I am bringing you an interview with an up-and-coming Chicago DJ , PJ, who is also currently a student at DePaul. Below, he reveals how he found his passion and what he expects next. Click read more to see what exactly what he had to say!
Lincoln Park Minute: Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What are you studying? Who are you?
PJ: My name is Peter Souri. I am originally from the northwest suburb of Elk Grove Village, IL. I am a currently a junior at DePaul double majoring in Honors Accountancy and Finance. I’m a typical college student on the tightrope of balancing the pursuit of my musical aspirations while accomplishing my academic endeavors. Other than DJing, I am involved in student organizations at DePaul such as Sigma Chi and Accounting Club and have held executive board positions for both.
LPM: How did you get started DJing? Is it something you’ve always loved? When did you realize your passion? How long have you been doing it?
PJ: Music has always been a something I’ve loved. I pursued playing piano and guitar when I was younger but lost interest. I was never satisfied with being limited to one instrument and was too impatient to learn the theory and the basic, I just wanted to be able to play. The concept of DJing didn’t really appear to me until early on in high school. I remember going to homecoming dances and such remembering always wanting to sneak behind and see what the DJ was up to and try to understand what he/she was doing. It was a concept so foreign to me but I was so eager to learn more.
I watched hours of YouTube videos to try to understand what the DJ was really doing. This eventually led to me getting my first cheap DJ controller for Christmas. From there, I learned the very basics of mixing and proceeded to DJ small high school house parties with a friend of mine whose Dad had some old PA speakers and lights in his garage attic. I took every opportunity in high school that was offered to me to DJ or be involved in music. From making mixes for the poms team to DJing football games, I would do whatever I could to grow that interest of mine.
It was more or less a hobby until I met who was to become my future mentor DJing at afashion event at the mall. I was unsure about approaching him at first but eventually did, asked some questions, exchanged contact info, and the rest is history. Once I got into my freshman year at DePaul, we had a meeting and he explained the training I would need to go through before being able to book me. Fast forward until now, I’ve been officially DJing in Chicago for about 2 years and have in that time played an extensive number of different venues and private events.
LPM: What is your favorite venue to DJ at? Why? What makes a venue or gig a good one?
PJ: I don’t necessarily have a favorite venue to DJ, to me it all depends on the crowd that is there that night. There are a few aspects that make certain venues better than others, and I’m sure other DJs would agree. Properly working DJ equipment is the number one thing I care about when playing a venue. If the equipment doesn’t work properly, I will not be able to provide my best service even though I can adjust to the situation. More specific things such as quality of the sound system, lights, etc. obviously make some venues better than others.
LPM: What is your dream venue or gig? What are you aspiring to in terms of DJing?
PJ: Again, there is not one venue that I aspire to play at, more-so the location. I would love to be able to travel and play in different cities regularly. I’ve been able to do that on a small-scale so far but would like that to expand. I am aspiring to continuously improving my craft, learning new techniques in terms of turntablism (cutting, scratching, bet juggling etc.)
For example, what the girl means when she asks the DJ “can you make that whickie-whickie sound?” My biggest aspiration is continual growth and never becoming stagnant but constantly being open to learning and developing my skill set and becoming as versatile as I can be.
LPM: Any tips for those that love music and want to get into DJing as well? What has helped you succeed?
PJ: Keep at it. If you have an interest in anything at all, music, art, design, I urge you to look into it. It may begin as a hobby, maybe it ends as a hobby or maybe you end up losing interest or maybe just maybe it could become a passion. All those results are impossible if you don’t take the initiative to try. You will never be able to find your passion if you sit there and think “I wish I could be good at this, or I’ve always though of trying this”.
For potential DJs, this does not mean you have to go out tomorrow and buy 5k worth of equipment. There are plenty of ways to learn and make a gradual progression than a expensive initial investment. There are two things that have really helped me progress, these both apply to life in general. The first would be never be afraid to ask questions. You go out you hear a DJ you really like, go ask for his contact info, ask for his card. Worst case scenario he won’t care to talk to you but you never know where it could lead. The second is Do not shy away from being innovative, creative, or new. This will ultimately distinguish you from all the other DJs out there and will help you become more recognizable and help your overall brand. Bringing genuine uniqueness to music, art, etc is the most fulfilling aspect.
LPM: What struggles have you come across or mistakes have you had while DJing?
PJ: At first my struggles were knowing what to play. In the beginning here’s a 18 year old kid whose playing for a room of with the age range of 23-30. The only way to overcome this is learning the music, knowing what were the biggest hits when these people were in high school and college.
LPM: Do you think you would ever make your own music or remixes?
PJ: I am focusing to put out more mixtapes this upcoming year. I had a two-part mixtape series I released over the summer called Sundress Season. Each mix was around 25 minutes in length and features a tropical house/ top 40 vibe reminiscent of warm summer days. I’m looking to get more series on making remixes and learning the basics of producing music, I would like to really take the time to grasp those concepts.