The photo above is a memory from 2011 when Irie, who is a long time family friend, who I am happy to call brother (in spirit and heart only not by blood). The photo is from Conquer Entertainment’s Miami Market America World Conference after party where he gave my start-up company the privilege of having him as our DJ for the evening. He is a guy whose good reputation proceeds him, the one thing that everyone that knows him says about him, his success comes from what a great human being he is, how good he is to the people around him. Although I have known him for quite a few years, I realized I have never taken the opportunity to find out about where he came from and how he got his start, I thought an interview would be the perfect opportunity to find out.
Amanda: How did you get started DJ’ing?
Irie: I really started out as a record collector. By the of my junior year in high school I had already amassed over 3000 pieces of vinyl. That opened the door to the opportunity to fall into DJing as one day a girl that I had a major crush on came over to my house and saw all the records in my bedroom and assumed I was a DJ. I had never DJ’d in my life but I went along with the charade since she was apparently really into DJ’s and I was really into her.. I ended up winging it and DJing her dad’s NYE party and haven’t looked back since.
A: Wow, that is a pretty amazing start. What about being a DJ did it for you, what excited you about it the most?
I: There’s soo much that excites me when it comes to DJing.. Lending my
ears to new music is soo exciting. Working with artists and producers as
well. But most of all it’s that euphoric feeling of really rocking a party. I mean working a crowd into a frenzy and taking them on a musical journey, there’s just nothing like it.
A: What would you say was the biggest factor contributing to your success?
I: No different than being successful at anything else. I had an undying
passion and drive for it.. Once I got a taste of it I just wanted more and
wanted it all the time. I was thrilled to just DJ in my bedroom to my
bedroom wall pretending that it was a crowd of thousands.. heck I STILL DJ
in my studio all alone just practicing mixes and manipulating new tunes.
It’s still that fun to me.
A: So, you were responsible for breaking several artists on the radio, can
you tell us about that, who were they and how did it happen?
I: There are soo many artists I helped to break on the radio and in the clubs. A few of the notables include D.M.X., Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Yung Joc, Pitbull, Flo Rida, Rick Ross, T-Pain & Ludacris. I’ll tell you the story of the last artist.
I had a really good friend named Shadow that worked for the new defunct
Virgin Records imprint but he had a lot of industry friends around the
country as well. He was visiting Miami and stopped by the radio station to
see me. He pulled me aside and said he had this record he wanted to give
me. It wasn’t one of his artists but it was someone he was trying to help
out. He passed me the vinyl and it had an orange label that read
“Disturbing Tha Peace” with a song titled “What’s Your Fantasy” by an
artist named Ludacris. At this time most of the big hit records were
coming from the major imprints like Jive, Interscope and of course Def
Jam.. I hadn’t really gotten an independent record like this so before I
even played it to listen to I was already thinking this was going to be a
waste of time. Shadow was adamant about me listening to it on the spot so
I cued it up and gave it a listen in my headphones. About a minute into
the song I looked at Shadow and said “I’m playing this TONIGHT” not only
did I play it that night I played it EVERY night I was on the radio and at
all of my clubs.. In no time at all people were asking me left and right
what that song was and how they could get it. Not before long Ludacris was
signed to Def Jam South and the rest is history.
A: Wow, I knew some of that, but holy cow, that is amazing. You are really a legend, I’m honored. So with getting to do all these wonderful things, what is the best part of being a DJ, with the immense success you have had?
I: The best part of my personal DJ career is having worked myself into a
position where I’ve created opportunities for other DJ’s that might not
have presented itself otherwise. My work with the NBA as the official DJ
of the Miami HEAT opened the doors to DJ’s around the country having
opportunities to DJ be official team DJ’s. Current day I’m championing
more opportunities for DJ’s through my Carnival Cruise Spin’iversity
program (www.carnivalentertainment.com/spiniversity). Seeing people get to
live their dream and really make a living at something they love doing
through a program that I created is blissful.
A: What do you think is the key to your success?
I: Relationships! I play every show like it’s my last and I treat my clients and fans like GOLD. It’s really that simple.. Deliver the best performance possible and make sure your clients and patrons have the best experience along the way.
A: So, in that you are not just a DJ but a major brand, tell us about what
else you do? Stuff like Irie Weekend — actually can you tell us more
about what that is too?
I: Oh yes.. we’ve spent a lot of time and effort really growing our brand and our footprint on the entertainment grid. We’ve formed multiple corporate partnerships with the likes of Verizon Wireless, Heineken, Premier Beverage, & Target. It’s great to have brand partners that really understand our and complement our efforts. Irie Weekend (www.irieweekend.com) is our signature event that has taken place in Miami Beach for the past 9 years. It’s an amazing vehicle for us to raise funds for the Irie Foundation through producing a weekend of events that organically showcase our brand partners.
A: What are you working on now?
I: Our latest endeavor is the formation of new agency that will provide consultation and services to brands looking to permeate the marketplace through music and entertainment.
A: What have you accomplished that you are most proud of?
I: The launch and success of the Irie Foundation (www.iriefoundation.org). Not only do we support a slew of local and national organizations but we also recently launched our scholarship programed and awarded our 1st scholarships for this school year.
A: What is your favorite stuff to play — what do you think is the hottest
stuff out there?
I: I’m a music lover so I don’t have a favorite genre. I listen to everything from Hip Hop to EDM to Reggae to Trap etc etc. Right now I’m seeing a lot of traction with the trap movement in the clubs.. it’s taken over from dubstep.
A: What are some of your favorite tracks right now?
I: Anything from Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album, Migos feat. Drake – Versace, Capital Cities – Safe & Sound, If I Lose Myself (Alesso Remix) – One Republic, Living Room – TWRK, Major Lazer – Bumaye
A: Who are some of the artists you are most excited about right now? What
about some up and coming “underdog” or newcomer type artists?
I: I’m excited about Krewella, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Wale, Skrillex. Some exciting up & comers include TNGHT, TWRK, Major Lazer.
A: What would you recommend to aspiring DJ’s?
I: Please don’t just be a button pusher.. actually learn the art of DJ’n.. NO SHORTCUTS!
A: What about some advice for artists trying to make it?
I: Get to know the DJ’s.. especially your local DJ’s. They are path of least resistance and are usually connected enough to do more than just play your record if they really believe In it.
A: What equipment and software did you start out on?
I: there was no software when I started dj’n.. just technics turntables, vestax mixer and shure microphone and needles.
A: What equipment do you use now?
I: I still use Technics turntables along with RANE mixer and Serato Scratch Live now.
A: Any final thoughts or anything you would like to add?
I: THREE RINGS!!! GoD