INTERVIEW - Without a doubt one of the most unique sounding and humble artists I've ever spoken with, Dee Jay Silver is seamlessly combining two genres of music that years ago no one would have ever imagined could work together: country and dance. A spoken music junkie and dedicated artist, he gives it all he's got with every show that he performs. Check out this great interview I had with him about how his career began, his thoughts on combining genres, his mindset when playing shows, and much more.
What was your earliest experience with DJing? What drew you to it?
I started working the door of a nighclub in college, just for some extra money. Seeing all these different DJs every night and how they captured the room; it was just one of those things where I thought “Man, that would be so awesome to do.” Back then, there was no YouTube; you had to learn from a DJ. You had to learn how to mark your records, you had to learn how to BPM your records. It was a mentorship, man. I could count the DJs I knew on two hands, from across the country. You had to carry around a crate of records, carrying them around in a van like soccer moms. I was taken in by the whole thing, man. I love digging for records, I love putting two records together. I was amazed by it. I was playing seven days a week, and practicing out of my bedroom three to four times a day.
I apologize if you’ve been asked this so much, but where does your DJ name come from?
(laughs) So this is kind of funny. I don’t know if I’ve ever said this in an interview, but I used to be Dee Jay Quicksilver back in the day. One day, I got a letter from the Quicksilver clothing company, and it was a Cease and Desist letter. It was either between Quickie or Silver, so I went with Silver. I was like, “Holy shit, I’m doing something right!” (laughs)
You’re in a very interesting position right now, where you combine two genres that no one ever expected to be very compatible: electronic, country, and hip hop. What made you decide to be that artist to take a chance and combine very different genres?
I’ve been blessed. I’ve been touring the world as a DJ for twenty-plus year now. I remember watching a DJ play, and he was doing crazy things with his records. Me being a music enthusiast, I was so blown away. Afterwards, I waited like a super-groupie (laughs). I said to him “I don’t want to jock your style or anything, brotha, but if you have any advice for someone who wants to be more than just a local resident DJ.” I had nothing against that at all, I just had higher visions than that. I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world and play music. He looks at me and says “Well, I’m a rock guy, an 80s guy, what are you?” I looked back and said, “…I’m a redneck guy.” He looked at me and just laughed (laughs).
But I mean you can ask from Miami, to Mexico City, to Calgary, I’m the guy that has always mixed country music into the mix. I’ve always been that guy. I put out the first country club mix CD almost ten years ago. I called them Country Club, and I printed 5000 copies out of my own pocket. We did the first Country Club release party in Austin, TX. Since then we’ve gotten to Country Club, Volume 4; Parking Lot Party, Volume 3; the music for the Lizard Lick Towing Company TV show. Country music was taboo. It’s sort of like sushi; people who say “oh I don’t like sushi, I hate it” haven’t really ever tried it. Now it’s different. The first time I went onto SoundCloud, there wasn’t any kind of country remix label. Now, when you go up, there is an official label for country remixes on SoundCloud. Now we’re booked in Vegas for 10 days in December, playing nothing but country music. We’re turning the Mandalay Bay Resort into Dee Jay Silver’s Country Club.
People throughout the past few years seem to have become SO much more open to different genres of music, whether playing or listening to them.
Absolutely! You know, we were on the East Coast a few months ago. We were all having a little block party backstage. This girl plugged her iPod in, and it was a Jason Aldean song. I was like “we just heard that, let’s fast forward!” The next songs were like, Lil’ Wayne and Robin Thicke.
And because people like Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, and Jason Aldean, they’re showing people that country music is fun. It’s not all lonely dudes. Like, I played a bar last night. I told them that when I come to play country music, it’s going to be a party. I don’t necessarily dislike the whole “I wish my sister was better looking” country music, but I’m not a country purist. I grew up in the Dr. Dre era. And I’ve also learned that when you play for a whole night, it can’t be just a whole night of one genre; it’s all gotta go together. It’s all about keeping people entertained, throwing in little surprises. It’s fun to show people two or three songs that you’d never think would ever go together. You’d never think that “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz and “I Never Want This Night To End” by Luke Bryan are the same song. If I can get one person to give county music a chance and become a country music fan for life, then I’ve done my job. That’s all we’re trying to do. I’m not trying to change country music; I’m just trying to show it to people through my eyes.
You’ve currently been on tour with Jason Aldean and Jake Owen, making your stop at Shoreline Amphitheater in Mountain View, CA on October 12. What has it been like being the first act up on these massive shows?
Right now, we’re in Vegas and I can’t wait to play tonight. I played Phoenix and Scottsdale, Arizona in the same night last night. It’s such a rush to go out there. I’m not just saying this because you’re from California, but people in California just want to party! They don’t give a damn, and I want to be in the middle of it! Last weekend at Shoreline, usually I’d play, then Thomas Rhett would play, then Jake Owen, and then Jason [Aldean], but Thomas was celebrating his wedding anniversary, so I got the opening slot last week. Knowing that you’re setting the tone for two country badasses that are about to come and rock your faces off is awesome. The best part about Jason is that I went up to him and asked him “is there anything that you do or don’t want me to play?” He was like, “if you outdo me, I’ve gotta turn my show up.” (laughs). It wasn’t a negative comment, it was a “we’ve got to give these people all we’ve got” comment. It’s our job to make sure that when these people leave, they can go “God, that was such a good show!”
Now some questions about the record, “Country Club”. How long did the initial process take for writing and compiling this record?
These songs took a couple months. We got the album done pretty quickly. I mean, the songs are already mastered and ready to go when we get them, and it’s always an absolute pleasure to have the session files and break them down for a mix.
What is your particular mindset when writing a song?
I want the crowd to hear, through my ears, if that makes sense. I’m an 808 junkie, man. (laughs). I want them to feel a song, and I want them to understand that sometimes when you put a little heavier pace on it, the party starts a little quicker. If you take a slow song and speed it up a little quicker, you’ve got a party rock track. When people hand me a song, the first thing I think is “How can I pull this off in a nightclub? How can I make this work? I can rock this in Vegas, or I can rock this in a country concert.”
Who were you listening to at the time of writing and recording “Country Club”? Any particular artists or genres?
I was actually thinking about that last night! I was listening to the Bruno Mars and Daft Punk albums. If that Daft Punk album came out twenty-years ago, that’s funk, man! And Bruno Mars, good lord; he’s probably the most talented kid on planet Earth. I mean, he’s put out these ballad love songs, and every club in the world is playing them now.
What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I would like them to walk away saying “I can’t wait to see that again, that was awesome! That’s a party.”
What does music mean to you?
Music is my livelihood. You can turn on the radio and hear a song, and it could be a Kid Rock track, and we’re making the bus jump up and down. Or it could be Brooks & Dunn, everybody’s just going crazy! Without music, I think that this world would be a terrible place.
After the Jason Aldean tour finishes up, what are your future plans?
My tour, called the Country Club Tour, kicks off Halloween night. It ends in Las Vegas on December 14. The rest of the record is going to be finished. My radio show called “The Country Club” is being worked on as well; we’re trying to get it syndicated and nationwide. It’s on fifteen markets right now. Then there will probably be some more touring next year.
Dee Jay Silver's newest release, The Country Club EP, is available now.
You can check out more from Dee Jay Silver at www.facebook.com/DeeJaySilver
This has been another shameless promotion.