DJ Get Live has been spinning since before he knew about the existence of DJ’ing.
As a kid putting together mixtapes and looking up to his song-selector cousins, Get Live understood early on the keys to clever curation, a skill that would go on to help him have a successful career.
Now a globally renowned DJ who gets booked for corporate parties, spin classes and everything in between, Get Live likens his unique and hands-on approach to that of an athlete.
Ahead of one of his recent gigs, we spoke to the multi-talented man behind the music about how playing basketball and training on vinyl set him apart from the competition.
Tell us about your path into a music career.
I was always intro music when I was growing up. In 4th and 5th grade, I tried to make my own mixtapes by recording songs from the radio onto cassette. I remember I made a mixtape for a weekend road trip with my cousins, and they were feeling all the songs I put on the tape, back to back to back. I was DJ’ing without even knowing it.
My sisters and my cousins’ friends were also DJ’s, so I was always around people who were mixing music. I remember when my cousins started to drive, they would blast mixtapes that their DJ friends would make and pass around. I wanted to make one too, but I didn’t know how to DJ and I didn’t have any of the equipment. All of that changed one night in 7th grade when I was hanging out with my cousins’ DJ friends in his basement and he had his equipment set up. My cousin was messing around with the turntables, playing tracks and mixing them, and he let me try it out. I started going through his records and playing tracks, learning as I went along, how to cue, how to move the fader and control the volume. It felt good to get a response from his friends like, “Yo that was a dope song you played…that’s my joint.” I stayed on the turntables until the end of the night when my cousins were like, “it’s time to go home.” I was hooked.
There’s clearly a competitive edge when it comes to DJ’ing nowadays. What role have sports played in your life?
Sports have played a major role in my life. I played every type of sport when I was younger, but basketball was my main sport. I was a huge Michael Jordan fan, and I got to see him win 6 titles, so I idolized him. I won a couple of championships and went to a couple of all-star games. I was also named MVP of my CYO team when I was in 5th grade, the same year we went on to win our division. In 9th grade, we won the Queens Championship, but lost in the Brooklyn-Queens Title game.
As I got older, I was able to apply all of the philosophies from playing basketball to my DJ’ing career, from the business side to the club side. “Work so hard that you do whatever it takes to win and be the best.” I live by that every day. When I started, I wanted to be a turntablist, so when I practiced, I would treat it like basketball practice. I would do “scratching drills.” I would have mixing sessions where I would pretend I was in the club. My mentor, DJ Fatfingaz would even create in-the-club scenarios where he would purposely bump the turntables while I was mixing and I had to keep the blend on beat. This was during the vinyl days, so it took much more skill than what DJ’s use nowadays.
To be a successful DJ you have to have an eclectic palette and taste. How is your music dictated by the events you DJ?
I have spun for all types of events, for clients such as Nike, Apple, Google, G-Shock, and Red Bull. I have also spun internationally at clubs in Japan, Switzerland, and the UK. In 2013, I had a residency in NY at a Downtown speakeasy named Lil Charlie’s that was nominated for a Nightlife Award by Paper Magazine, and was featured in New York Mag for Best Hip Hop Party in NYC.
There’s definitely a connection between the music I play and the events I get hired for, because they all have different vibes. I work to create an environment that can be enhanced by the music I play. I stay away from certain records that I play at the clubs if I’m DJ’ing a corporate event. Usually clubs are more high energy, but so is DJ’ing for a spin class. The setting of the event determines the type of music I play.
Writer: Madeline Turner // Illustrator: Sophia Chang