Dt: February 4, 2014
Dee Jay Silver
DEE JAY SILVER performing at Boston’s Fenway Park July 12, 2013
Where does your story begin?
I went to school at Williams Baptist College in Walnut Ridge, AR and after graduating, I moved to Springfield, MO, where I started working as a door guy at a club. They would let me open up the dance floor every night until the headliner or resident DJ would come on. One gig turned into the next. Back in the day, you didn’t have computers, YouTube, or schools to learn how to DJ. If you were going to DJ, you had to learn from another DJ. A DJ would say, “I’ll take you under my wing, but this is what you’re going to do.” Basically, you’re going to be my whopping boy for a couple of years [Laughs].
What DJs took you under their wing?
DJ P…I’m not saying this just because he got me into it, but he’s probably the best DJ I’ve ever heard in my life. To this day, he’s one of the best. He said, “I’ll let you open up every night.” I did that for a couple of years and then moved on to bigger and better things.
What was a night juggling the door and DJ booth like?
You can set your clock to the way a nightclub runs. At around eleven, I’d play to literally three people. They were probably my friends [Laughs]. Then, a half-an-hour or so later when he felt like it was time to get up there, I’d walk out and take over the front door.
What kind of music were you playing then?
I think any good DJ should be able to play anything. Back then, it was more hip-hop, house music, and rock. Then, it progressed. Watching the way music has changed over the past few years, you can go anywhere and play EDM and house music all night long. When I play Spring Break parties or Las Vegas, it’s ninety percent EDM. Even when you turn on Top 40 radio these days, it’s mostly EDM. Anything Pitbull puts out will be classified as hip-hop, but that’s Miami house music, man!
How did you first get into house music?
Being up in the Midwest, we looked up to guys like Bad Boy Bill, Alex Peace, Richard Humpty Vission, DJ Irene, and all of those cats in the Chicago area. I’d buy anything they put out. That was where it started for me. It was the hard house from Chicago. I’ve played several gigs with all of them back in the Excalibur Club days in Chicago. I ran into DJ Linwood the other night in California. It’s crazy. I got booked in and out of Chicago a lot.
How did you add country music into it?
Being a DJ, I play the clubs in Miami, Las Vegas, and New York. However, I’m also from the country, so I’ve always mixed in country music. I’m so happy to see that “Country Remix” is actually a genre now. Music and DJing to me are about being creative and relating to your crowd. No matter what song it is, people will dance if it’s presented right. If they’re familiar with a song, that’s what makes them more comfortable to have a better time.
Growing up in Texas, country music was all I ever heard. I was very versed in country music. To this day, I’ll still do a mix of Run-D.M.C.’s “Walk This Way” and Alabama’s “If You’re Gonna Play in Texas (You Gotta Have a Fiddle in the Band).”
When did the hybrid really crystallize for you?
I started with Jason Aldean in 2010. I’d get booked in Nashville for country fashion shows. People really started asking, “Who is Dee Jay Silver?” when Jason gave me the break to open up for him every night. I’ve been up with him ever since.
How did you guys link up?
He came up to me at Taboo Nightclub inside of the MGM Grand and asked me if I wanted to go on tour with him. I was like, “Yeah, sure, tough guy!” I was playing there, and Jason had the big VIP table in front of the DJ booth. I was doing what I usually do mixing in country. The crowd was loving it. I played the remix of “She’s Country” I did with Nelly’s “Country Grammar,” and he walked up to the DJ booth. Two weeks later, his agent sent me my schedule for the next year.
What’s your set like?
It’s evolved into something bigger than just playing music in between sets. I do thirty minutes right before he goes on.
What was the idea behind the Country Club (Sony Nashville) EP?
I’ve had this idea for Country Club for four or five years. You know that feeling when you walk into a meeting and you’re like, “This is where I’m meant to be?” That’s how I felt when I met with Sony Nashville. It’s such a huge label with so many great artists and a massive catalog. Everything I wanted was at that place. They’d be like, “What can you do with Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’ and ‘Two Black Cadillacs’ by Carrie Underwood?” I worked with some great producers. I’ve got other projects in the works with Chris Young and Brad Paisley. We re-did the song “Good Ole Boys.” We’ve got a lot of great things working. When I walked into the room at the label and saw my picture next to Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, Chris Young, and Brad Paisley, I was like, “This is awesome!”
Which tracks are the most powerful for you?
Based on feedback from fans, the Alabama and Nappy Roots mix, “Dixieland Delight” does it. Country music purists who only listen to Alabama, Hank Williams, Jr., and all the way back may not like what I do. It’s not country music at its purist. When I mix country music, I mix it for a wider audience, so they’ll give country music a chance and become fans. The track just works so well. It’s an absolute honor to know we’ve created something like that. It shows you what you can do with country music. It’s not all lonely people with empty beer glasses. It’s party music.
What’s your favorite?
“Barefoot Blue Jean Night” is probably my favorite. Jake Owen was on the Jason Aldean Night Train tour and we became friends. We re-did that one. Even when I’m in a nightclub, it can bring the house down. Of course, all the girls go crazy since its Jake. It’s a song everyone can relate to. Everyone wants to party to it. We gave it a more up-tempo feel so it can fit a nightclub or a country club. That’s a song I asked for.
The title Country Club is a play on words. It’s both “country” and “club” music…
Absolutely! I put out the first Country Club mixtape probably eight or nine years ago in Austin, TX. The name lets you know what it is immediately.
What kind of equipment do you use?
I use all Pioneer. I use the CDJ-2000 CD players and the 900 mixer. I do it all live on stage. I don’t have any of the Ableton stuff on stage. I’m from the old school. I don’t use the “sync” button. If you hear me messing up, you know I’m doing it.
What festivals have you performed at?
I’ve done Ultra Music Festival and Winter Music Conference. I haven’t had a chance to do Electric Daisy Carnival yet because I’m always booked. I’d tear EDC up if I got the chance to do it [Laughs]. It’s always in the middle of our touring season.
I have also performed at country music festivals like Jamboree in the Hills, Watershed, Faster Horses, CMA Music Festival. This summer my EP came out the week of the CMA fest so I played all over Nashville, Riverfront and LP Field a couple times, some parties and clubs in town. It was a blast and such a great way to celebrate the release of Country Club.
How much do the EDM and country shows differ?
We walked into a place, and I said, “If she’s got blue hair and a tutu, I probably know her!” [Laughs] There’s such a freedom when you walk into an EDM festival. These people go there to have a good time. They’re there to experience the vibe and the atmosphere and live the moment. It’s a lot like Jason Aldean’s shows. These people save up all week for this. For the most part, the EDM crowds are going to clubs six nights a week. Jason’s crowd is typically working six days a week, saving up for that Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night show. We do crowds that are equally big. They all let loose. It’s all positive energy. They’re coming to hear good music. It’s a difference of 18-24 versus 21-25. There’s not much of a difference. The hats and clothes are a little different but they all come to let loose and party.
Where do dance and country music meet?
Right or wrong, I’ve always made it work. The minute you understand key progressions and the tempo of a song, you can make anything work. It fits right in the pocket. I play what makes people love country music.
How do you describe your music when people ask you to?
I call it “Country Party Rock” or “Dee Jay Silver Country.” When I first started putting it up on Soundcloud, I’d have to type in “country space remix.” Now, “Country Remix” is a genre. It makes me smile every time I see it.
What artists shaped you?
Oh, I’d say Rage Against the Machine, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Kid Rock. I would love to do music with Kid Rock. He was one of the first live crossover artists in the history of music. He hosted the Country Music Awards in Nashville on a Wednesday, and then he hosted the BET Hip-Hop Honors the next night. Are you kidding me? I was the first DJ to play the CMA Music Festival. It was the same night Lenny Kravitz played. I know that wouldn’t have happened a few years ago [Laughs].
What’s your crowd like?
It’s crazy. It’s the perfect mixture of EDM and country crowds. They’ll be people with cowboy hats out there. Then, there will be chicks with blue hair and tutus. If you’re going to see Dee Jay Silver play, it’s going to be a party.
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