DJ Skee Jumps “In The Mix” [DJBooth Interview Exclusive]
New York, NY -- Back in June, we jumped In The Mix with Shonie, the Slip-N-Slide singer who brought us "Can't Let Go" and "I Just Wanna." For the fifth installment of our Booth-exclusive interview series, we're giving readers an up-close-and-personal look at DJ Skee, a 25-year-old DJ, entrepreneur, and radio personality with eight years of experience in the industry.
Skee got his start as an enterprising teen selling mixtapes to his classmates at St. Paul Central High School and hosting 20-minute sets at a local radio station, but his career truly began when he made the acquaintance of NYC DJ Stretch Armstrong, who in turn introduced Skee to then-LOUD Records boss Steve Rifkind. After assisting in the launch of Rifkind's SRC Records label, Skee moved on to start HYPE, a successful marketing company he eventually sold in order to concentrate on music. Since then, he has worked closely with such high-profile artists as Akon, David Banner, and The Game, become a regular presence of Sirius XM satellite radio and L.A.'s KIIS-FM, and launched the wildly popular SKEE.TV, a marketing company and online television channel featuring interviews, videos, and much more.
In this exclusive, five-question interview, DJ Skee discusses what it was that drove him to enter the game at such a young age, the business principles that brought him to where he is today, and the forthcoming, top-secret project he promises is going to be "huge."
How do you feel about being classified as a “Celebrity DJ”?
I think it's hilarious, because I look at myself as just me, the same person who was DJing out of his bedroom as a teenager and putting together mixtapes just for fun. It is an honor to be called and titled different names from others as it does show that some people are paying attention to [my work]. At the end of the day, though, I just want my work to speak for itself, whether it's an explosive radio show that grabs listeners attention (outside of traditional radio which is often looked down on), mixtapes/production, [or] rocking a club or party for hours straight.
You began your career at 16, when most teens are trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. What was the spark that drove you to pursue a career [in the music industry] at such a young age?
I just had a true passion for it and really fell in love with music and DJing. I always was a music head growing up, and when I first got behind turntables as a teen, I knew from that point on I wanted to be (and was going to be) a DJ. I saw the vision and path for myself and just worked hard to make those goals happen, luckily it was early on!
You co-hosted (along with DJ Drama) R. Kelly’s new The Demo Tape mixtape. Is there any real difference between mixing hip hop records and R&B records?
There [are] slight differences between any [two genres]: hip-hop (and club music) is traditionally the easiest to mix together, usually just taking the instrumentals then cutting in the song. With r&b, you have to strategically plan out transitions a little more as many songs start/end with vocals only, breakdowns, etc that you can't just cut in and out. You want to appeal to the listeners' ears and make the project flow [as smoothly as] the records, so it definitely is a bit different... it's more difficult sometimes, but the results can be amazing. I can't formally speak on this next project which is r&b/soul/pop but the transitions on it are mindblowing—since the songs all start off with vocals or slow buildups, and end with fades on the hook, I wanted to figure a smooth way to transition between them. I'm going to actually bring in live players to change chords, keys, bpms, etc., and make something amazing and unique. I can't wait for the world to hear it; it will be big!
You’ve amassed quite the following on standard radio, satellite radio, and your own SkeeTV channel. What is the next medium that you would like to conquer?
Still expanding in every "DJ" aspect: club (keep growing live reputation), radio (expand to more markets and areas), and mixtapes (keep making fun projects). Keep growing Skee.TV and the music video production and content creation fields, as well as expanding my brand online and on television. Beyond that, I really want to tackle the concerns plaguing the music business—I want to be on the cutting edge of what's going on and take over the "new" industry as it transforms. I believe selling music, as it is done now, is dead, and want to help create new paths for the business. One key thing is going to be partnering with brands, and I really want to expand our company to start some of those relationships now. I think music has more power than it [has ever had in] reaching consumers, thanks to the Internet. Now it is time to figure how to take advantage of that.
What projects will you be working on in the near future?
As I touched on before, there is a huge project I'm working on that I can't fully talk about yet, but it is going to be huge, honoring the greatest ever, and sounds like a movie or musical on record. Look for an official release [soon]! Beyond that, just launched another show on Sirius XM, working on a syndicated platform, and shooting the best music videos out there! Also, I have a few cool projects coming up on the music side, including some big mixtapes.