10 Questions with ... DJ Cassidy
March 11, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
1. What is happening for DJ Cassidy these days?
I just released my first single on Columbia Records, "Calling All Hearts." It features Jessie J and Robin Thicke. The song encapsulates years of inspiration and influence. I have been a DJ since age 10, and have always made it my goal to be able to play all kinds of music for people all over the world. Throughout that process, I studied the peak of every party and what makes people move and dance; it has always been my goal to create that. With my new song and album, I have really sought to bring back the greatest and most universal dance music of all time -- and I think that I have achieved that.
2. You started DJing at 10 years old; how did DJ Cassidy start DJing in the first place?
I was a hip-hop kid. I looked up to Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Kool Herc and all the greats. I wanted to do everything that was Hip-Hop. And when I was nine years old, I asked my parents to buy me two turntables and a mixer for my 10th birthday.
3. Do you remember what your first mixer and turntables were?
The two turntables that they bought me were Technics 1200s and they are still in my bedroom today. With all of the technology that has occurred throughout the years, the turntable hasn't really changed. Technology somehow changed around the Technics 1200, which is a fascinating thing.
4. What were the first three records you bought?
House of Pains' "Jump Around," Nice & Smooth's "Hip Hop Junkies" and Kris Kross' "Jump".
5. Sean "Diddy" Combs was one of the earliest people to find and take notice of you; how did you come to meet him?
I was DJing at a club in New York; at the time I was in my late teens and just getting hot on the scene. It was an off-night and kind of empty and at 3a, Puffy and Kim Porter came out of the corner of the room and started dancing. I was playing a lot of soul music from the '70s and '80s, so we are talking Michael Jackson, Earth, Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang, Marvin Gaye, Chic, Stevie Wonder, Barry White, Shalamar, Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan and Diana Ross. Puffy started dancing and didn't stop until 5:30a. On the way out of the club, he walked by the DJ booth and asked who the DJ was. I told him that it was me, and he said "No, who has been playing this old music all night?" I told him again that it was me! He looked me up and down (I was 18, but I looked like I was 11 years old), wrote his number down on a napkin and told me to call him the next day. I called and left him a message and he called me back himself, and told me that he was doing a party at the VMAs for his new album ... and that he wanted me to do them. Me being the crazy kid I was, said "no, I already have another gig for the Awards." He said, "You have an hour to figure it out, God bless!" and hung up the phone. I got out of my other event and the next thing you know, I was the Party Rocker for the #1 Party Guy on Earth! The night that I met him, and was able to play for him is such a memorable night that really changed the course of my career.
6. Where did your love and passion for music come from?
Hip-Hop really led me to everything else. I really looked up to the founders of Hip-Hop and I saw that they weren't known for playing Hip-Hop records in their heyday because there were no Hip-Hop records. They were creating the culture by playing Disco, Funk, R&B, Soul, Rock & Roll, Reggae and even early House Music. They were creating something new with all of the genres of music that could affect the dance floor. It was in the admiration of them that I realized that in order to be like my heroes, I had to play like my heroes. I wanted to learn the kinds of music they played and all of the music that influenced Hip-Hop. It was Hip-Hop that led me to other forms of music and it was really the soul music of the '70s and '80s that had a profound effect on my career. I have always been the kind of DJ who could play all Hip-Hop music here in New York and go to Saint Tropez and play all House music. I have always been the guy who all different kinds of people could call for all different kinds of events and parties; my goal is to always Rock The Party! It was this era of music that led a lot of people to me, including Puffy and a lot of other notable people. It was that music and my innate passion for playing it in the way that I played it that really inspired me and became a large part of my career and, in essence, inspired the album that I have made.
7. As a DJ, your clientele is incredible. It spans in the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Beyoncé, Jay-Z and LeBron James and the Louis Vuitton company. What is it like to be in charge and be the music maestro for the events that you are performing for these people?
It is an amazing feeling to perform for people who you look up to. When people ask me if this is all a dream come true, my answer is "No, my only real dream was for my heroes to know my name." I never dreamed this big. I became a DJ at age 10 because I loved it; it was my hobby, my fun and after-school activity. I never thought about the job or the money aspect. I have always done it because I love it. To be able to play and perform for people who I looked up to as a child, particularly everyone in music that you named, has been a blessing. It never gets old and every time I am able to perform for someone whose music that I listened to as a kid, it is as great as the first time, every time.
8. One of the people that you ended up DJing for, which has to be one of the highest honor in the world, was for President Barack Obama. What was it like to DJ for the President of the United States of America?
DJing for the President was the most incredible feeling that I have ever felt in my entire life. The first time I DJed for him was at his first inauguration. I was the first DJ to ever play at an inauguration. I played live at one of the 10 balls, and programmed all the music for the other nine inauguration balls. Over the past four-and-a-half year, I have been able to perform at many events for the President, and play at the White House. Having the opportunity to perform for the President on the day of his first and second inauguration and to play at the White House is and was such an indescribable feeling! I would have never in my wildest imagination thought that I would have the opportunity to DJ for a President, and such an influential, historical President at that. It is a surreal feeling to be at an inauguration or in the White House performing and playing music for people to dance to. All of those events are really about the celebration, and I have always considered it my job to bring the celebration. That is what I have done for the President and it gets more fulfilling each time.
9. Did President Obama make any music requests?
I can't speak on specifics, but I am sure that you have watched him throughout the campaigns and you hear the music that was played. I am definitely rocking some Stevie Wonder and you can get the gist of it from some of that. At the end of the day, I am there to bring the celebration, which is not only how I look at it when I perform for him, but how I look at it every time that I perform.
10. You've made the transition from DJ to music producer and recording artist. How did you go from being the person behind the tables playing music, to the person behind the control board creating the music; what was the transition like?
For years I have unintentionally studied the dance floor; I watch people for a living and study their reactions. I wanted to create those moments not only with the music of others, but with music that I create myself. With this album I have united all of the influences and inspirations throughout the years of what I have perceived to be the greatest, most universal dance music of all time. I have sought to re-inspire that energy and to recreate that sound to bring it back to the dance floor.
What would you say are the three must-plays and right songs to play at an event to get the crowd moving?
I'll give you one, the greatest party record of all time, "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough," and I'll leave it at that.
When you started DJing in 1991, you started out playing vinyl, and you had Technics 1200's. Have you found that Serato has changed the way that people DJ?
I played vinyl until 2006. I was scared of Serato at first because I didn't want to be in front of a lot of people and have my computer crash. I think that it helped me; I am able to bring more music. I used to carry nine crates of records and take a cab to my gigs. Six crates would be in the trunk, one in the front and two on my lap. You figure there are about 100 records in each crate so that was 900 records and most are singles, some are albums. In the 900 records, there are maybe 1,000 songs that you can play. With iTunes you can have 20,000 songs, so your repertoire is bigger. Over the years my music knowledge has increased and the amount of music that I am able to carry with me has expanded times 10 at least! For me it is about the arsenal. You need the weapons to make the killing and the more weapons you have, the more killings you can make ... and in that sense, I love the technology. I do miss the search for music, and the exclusivity of music. There is no search or exclusivity anymore because any song that you know of you can find in 30 seconds. I miss it but with everything you gain in life. there is something you lose.