At any given concert you can find the hottest artists on stage pumping out sweat as they dance, sing, and rap giving their fans the show of their life. What most fans rarely see is the DJ behind the scene keeping all the tunes on track, but there is one spinning sensation that is just as popular as many of those artists. Some people know him through his viral We Know The DJ trending topic on twitter, others have seen him as the premiere DJ on tour with pop sensation Justin Bieber, either way the one and only DJ Tay James has made a name for himself. With over 10 years of experience and a slew of coveted appearances James has solidified himself as one of the hottest DJ’s on the planet and he’s not stopping there.
Parlé Magazine: You’ve expressed before that you have been DJing forever, but when did this love of music and hobby actually turn into a profession for you?
DJ Tay James: It actually started in college. That’s when I was able to take my brand, which is DJ Tay James and market myself to other universities in the area instead of just doing Hampton (University) parties. Any of the other colleges in the area I would drive to and try and perform that eventually led to me being known in the D.C. area which took it to the next level.
Parlé: When you say it took your career/brand to the next level I understand that it jumped in a big way from different colleges to participating in President Obama’s inauguration, how did that happen?
Tay James: Umm, well before I got to D.C. I was just doing big a**college parties but when I got to D.C. I was able to get into the clubs and the biggest club at the time was “Love” which happened to be one of the biggest clubs in the country, maybe about four stories and held 8,000 people, and I was able to hold that spot down for three years which provided a lot of opportunity. I did Bow Wow’s 21st Birthday party for MTV there and Chris Brown’s birthday party when he was still with Rihanna and just a bunch of different events that came through D.C. Eventually I was asked to be one of the guest DJ’s for Obama’s inauguration and it helped to just build my resume up and keep it moving. So by the time I graduated from college I felt like I was doing something and luckily that’s when the call came in from Bieber.
Parlé: That’s a lot for one college kid to accomplish in just a few years, where did this DJ determination come from? Why so strong of a hustle?
Tay James: Well coming from the DJ world, it’s kind of like if you have talent you kind of know you have talent because your affiliated with all the right people, know what I mean? Like the people that I was dealing with weren’t dealing with anyone who wasn’t grinding nor had the same type of passion that they had. So I knew something hadto happen because I had been grinding for so long so I just kept at it. You know, I had been DJing and going through four years of college and on top of all that I pledged Alpha and still ran my business. So while my parents were thinking this was just a hobby while in school and I would get a 9-5, I was thinking this all I wanted to do. I guess with that instilled in me I just kept on grinding, like this was all I could see. I put music on top of everything.
Parlé: What I understand behind the drive to keep DJing is an intense passion for something. What is that passion, and what led you to discover that you wanted to exclusively do this?
Tay James: I love music, and music is my passion. I’d rather go blind than lose my hearing so as long as I’m able to be involved with music that’s what drives me. When I was sixteen I got paid 300 for doing a birthday party and I immediately quit my job at Burger King lol. That was the most money I’d seen in one day and I’d make that in two weeks at Burger King and that’s when I knew this is what I wanted to do. This is what I had to do.
Parlé: And over the years that intense love of music continues to grow the brand of DJ Tay James, now to an international level. How does it feel to go from that first birthday gig to now have fans around the world?
Tay James: I mean, when I first started off doing it I just wanted to make a name for myself and wanted my parents to be happy. I just wanted them to see me on T.V. you know or have them brag to their friends so they could be happy. Now they want me to keep DJing so to have a huge fan base from just the main two I wanted to impress is great.
Parlé: A lot of kids want that same goal and many wanting to follow in your shoes, what advice would you want to give to someone trying to make their parent proud or trying to be like you?
Tay James: Uhh I would say never give up and don’t listen to what everyone else is telling you. When I was coming up everyone was telling me to stop DJing, like I remember a specific conversation I had with my father my senior year and he told me “ we didn’t send you to school to become a DJ, so if you’re going to become a DJ your either going to be serious about it, or get a 9-5." And once he told me that I never worked harder in my life. My father’s actually the biggest inspiration in my life, he has no college degree and makes six figures and has nothing to do but work hard, so coming from and that’s what I would say too. You gotta work hard
Parlé: You seem very inspired and motivated to do what you love, have you come up with a motto that you’d like to share? Something that helps you stay focused going?
Tay James: Hmmmm, (laughs) I don’t have one, that’s actually a good idea. If I come up with one I’ll let you know (laughs). I mean if you want to help me make one up right now we can do that LOL or we can keep it like Bieber and use “Never Say Never” LOl.
Parlé: Yeah, Never Say Never sounds like great one to me.
Tay James: (Laughs) and that honestly is the truth, at that time I was going through a rough time in my life. I had my parents on my back and was trying to figure out ways to pay rent and then Beiber calls and asks do I want to go on tour “YES!”LOL
Parlé: And that was the first tour you have ever correct?
Tay James: Yeah that was his first as well as mine, which was cool because I was able to watch him come up as an artist that went from having 200 people at his show to over 100,000. So being able to see Justin grow up into a man now and tour with him it’s a blessing, it’s crazy, and it all happened from not stopping or never saying never.
Parlé: It truly is, has it allowed you to add a huge presence to your experience as well as launch your brand We Know the DJ. Tell me a little bit more about what that saying means.
Tay James: Aside from seeing us (DJ’s) being affiliated with an artist sometimes a lot of DJ’s can get pigeon-holed or always/only affiliated with this artist. A good friend of mine is a DJ named Baby Drew who’s been with Chris Brown for several years and one thing that he had was he was building his “Baby Drew’ brand and I said to myself that I want to have something as well for myself that can separate me from the artists. So when some says Tay James I didn’t want people to say oh that’s just Justin Bieber’s DJ I want you to say we know the DJ as well. Weknowthedj.com is the website that I run that basically displays everything that a DJ would do with an artist or what a DJ is thinking. So if you go to my website you’ll see the hottest trends in all genres of music and download my mix-tapes and on top of that you can see my YouTube channel that has over 7 million views on my We know the DJ series. Since I’ve been with Justin I’ve been documenting where I went and what I do and make it a niche brand thing so that people can know the DJ. And it’s bigger than just me, in the future I’m going to also incorporate other DJ’s and start promoting them.
Parlé: Congratulations as well, your web series was nominated for a 2012 Shorty Award for your work in social media. That’s impressive.
Tay James: Lol I lost to two guys who were making fun of me the whole time. (Laughs) They’re whole campaign was “Stop Bieber’s DJ” and they won lol.
Parlé: That still says a lot about your brand itself to have would be attackers (laughs). But I know that’s not going to stop you, in fact I understand that your now on the radio, is that correct?
Tay James: Yeah I just got on D.C’s WPGC 95.5 and right now I’m doing a live broadcast every Friday and Saturday night and I’m also dropping mix-tapes once a month. I started we know the DJ radio and that’s just spotting the hottest music that out.
Parlé: Clearly your brand is continuing to rise and proving that you're more than just a DJ, I expect it would be soon that you take over the music industry completely (laughs)
Tay James: (Laughs)
Parlé: If you can, tell me what else in store for the many fans of DJ Tay James and where can we find you?
Tay James: Well right now, though We Know the DJ is doing well it’s still not where I want it to be, so I’m re-launching the website in the next couple months. There will be more videos, more parties, and just expanding the brand until it’s a household name. That’s my goal. And you can catch me at www.weknowthedj.com and my twitter @djtayjames.
Parlé: Great. Looking forward to checking out more great new things from you then, by the way thanks for taking the time to speak with us and I wish you much success.
Tay James: I really appreciate that bro.
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