Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. — If you don’t invest in yourself, why would anyone else invest in you? One of my favorite stories from someone I look up to a lot, Scooter Braun, is that he spent every last dollar of his savings on paying for Justin Bieber’s rent and living expenses during his early career. His belief in not only Justin, but himself, was relentless. Spend money on developing your career and projects. But it all starts with belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and the journey you’re on, it’s time to pivot elsewhere.
As a part of our series about rising music stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing DJ Politik.
A mainstay on the US club circuit, DJ Politik holds major residencies in each of the country’s hottest nightlife destinations, including Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Chicago, Atlantic City and his native Los Angeles. He has shared the stage with A-listers such as Drake, Travis Scott, and Bruno Mars; and shared the decks with internationally renowned selectors The Chainsmokers, Skrillex, and Diplo.
As a young aspiring deejay, Politik cut his teeth in the L.A. nightlife scene by sneaking into exclusive Hollywood nightclubs while still in high school. Exposure to groundbreaking deejays such as DJ AM, Mark Ronson, and Z-Trip would continue to expand his palette and shed light on the technical side of the craft. L.A.’s burgeoning electro scene and its raw, genre-bending parties such as Steve Aoki’s “Dim Mak Tuesdays” and DJ AM’s “Banana Split”, would also play a pivotal role in the development of Politik’s energetic style of playing records. The heavy, dense sounds of weekly guest deejays such as Daft Punk, Justice, and MSTRKFT, once again reshaped his perspective on sonic boundaries in his own deejay sets.
Fall 2020 is the time for one of the most celebrated club DJs to make his move into the producer realm. DJ Politik linked up with dark pop provocateur DeathbyRomy on new single ‘WOLF’, for his first ever original track. ‘WOLF’ sees DJ Politik channel an enthralling modern alt- indie-dance sound all his own, combining DeathbyRomy’s seductive vocals with ominous trap snares and cinematic synths.
Just the beginning of a bevy of releases planned for 2021, ‘WOLF’ sees DJ Politik make an explosive entrance into the world of producer/DJs.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
Thanks for having me. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, and grew up all over the city, mostly in the San Fernando Valley. My mother is a musician and singer so I was constantly surrounded by music since I was a kid. I would spend days listening to my mom’s record collection and taping my favorite songs from the radio. Artists like Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, David Bowie, and Frank Sinatra made up the soundtrack of my earliest years, until discovering 90’s hip-hop from my older brother.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
Somewhere during my early pubescent years, I started paying attention to the scratch sounds in many of my favorite hip-hop songs. As I started watching MTV and seeing future heroes such as Jam Master Jay and DJ Premier scratching in music videos, I naturally started gravitating toward turntables and using them as my instrument of choice.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Being a random kid from the Valley and somehow getting paid to travel the world and play music is still the most interesting and wild story to me. I’ve always just been a music lover, and more recently, a student of music. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I don’t know if this is technically considered a mistake, but when I first started deejaying in Las Vegas, I was terrified of using a microphone. I would make the lighting guy do all the shoutouts and hype up the crowd for me. Up until that point, I hadn’t realized the importance of being a good MC and interacting with the crowd. Playing in Vegas early in my career definitely had a huge impact in my development as a performer.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Super excited about continuing to release music from my own artist project, as well as developing my production & songwriting team in Los Angeles. We’re collaborating with a handful of major & independent artists across multiple genres, so just all around excited to be a part of these artists’ journeys.
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
I think diversity is extremely important across all of the arts. It’s important to be inclusive of all backgrounds and cultures to bring truly unique perspectives to the arts. Today, you can clearly see the impact of diversity in music where so many genres have fused and crossed over into other genres. And the result is an extremely diverse, open-minded musical landscape that’s continuing to grow and expand globally. Diversity is not only good for us as human beings, but it’s good for business as well.
From a pure artistic perspective, diversity is essential in reaching your true potential as an artist. To me, the key to being a great artist is to constantly be inspired by your surroundings, and without exploring and appreciating other people & cultures, you cannot reach your true potential as an artist.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Identify your strengths and weaknesses, and understand that you don’t have to “do it all.”
Through my years of deejaying and developing as a music producer, engineer, and overall musician, this has probably been the most important lesson I’ve learned. Knowing your strengths & weaknesses, and surrounding yourself with supporting talent, is a superpower in itself. Collaboration is your best friend, and no level of education or training compares to learning from the masters. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, you’d be surprised how many people more successful than you are willing to share their knowledge and resources.
Talent is important, but execution, efficiency, and consistency is more important. Work smarter AND harder.
You hear the old adage all the time…“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” What you don’t hear, is what exactly goes into that “hard work” that gets you closer to your goals. Focus on being efficient with your time and delegating certain tasks if you can, but don’t take shortcuts. Learn the foundation and principles of whatever it is you’re focused on. Be consistent, plan in months, and learn something new every day that contributes to your overall growth.
Not everyone will understand your vision and you won’t be able to please everyone. Block out the noise.
I’ve always been a people pleaser, many times at my own expense. But a lesson I’ve learned that has helped me tremendously is simply accepting the fact that not everyone is going to like me or agree with me. Not everyone is going to like my music, taste, personality, or what I have to say. And accepting that is an important part of being an artist and an all-around human being. We aren’t meant to like everything or everyone. Individuality is what makes us human. Focus on the positives and what feels right to you. Block out all the other noise.
Trust your instincts and constantly pay attention to them. Meditation is your friend, maintaining your mental health is your salvation.
One of my most successful musician friends told me recently, “Trust your instincts, it’s what got you here.” I think most of us underestimate the power of our gut, and our subconscious mind to point us in the right direction. And harnessing that power is a skill, like any other, that takes practice and time. Guided meditation has been a huge help in clearing my mind and allowing me to identify my subconscious thoughts.
Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself.
If you don’t invest in yourself, why would anyone else invest in you? One of my favorite stories from someone I look up to a lot, Scooter Braun, is that he spent every last dollar of his savings on paying for Justin Bieber’s rent and living expenses during his early career. His belief in not only Justin, but himself, was relentless. Spend money on developing your career and projects. But it all starts with belief in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself and the journey you’re on, it’s time to pivot elsewhere.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Balance is the key to everything. If you’re an artist or an entrepreneur that doesn’t have a day job, keep a daily schedule that you follow consistently. Make time for the gym, reading, meditation, spending time with family and friends. Without balance and consistency, you’re more susceptible to lazy habits and lower efficiency.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I wouldn’t call myself a person of enormous influence but thank you for the compliment. Given the epidemic we’re facing with depression, suicide, and mental health, I think a movement that would do a lot of good would be to simply call a friend every day that you haven’t spoken to in a while. Check in with them and see how they’re doing. One phone call and a conversation goes a long way with someone struggling.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Jason Strauss & Noah Tepperberg, founders of TAO Group. As a 21-year-old kid, they gave me a shot to play at their nightclub LAVO in Las Vegas. At that time, the impact a Las Vegas residency had on a club deejay’s resume was tremendous. The entire international nightclub community paid very close attention to the deejays playing consistently in Las Vegas, and it opened up a huge door for me to get booked all around the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.” — Vince Lombardi
I’m an extremely detail oriented perfectionist at the core. But I’ve learned that perfection is not the goal. The journey and the wisdom you gain along the way is what’s truly important. Growing into excellence is the goal, not perfection.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Quincy Jones. Aside from his gargantuan impact on music and culture, he seems to be one of the coolest, most humble people around. It would be an honor to just pick his brain and soak up some wisdom.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!