Upfront & Personal With DJ Spen
Sometimes at Soulful Seduction HQ we have moments of sheer musical pleasure, that moment happens when suddenly you have a chance to interview a person that really is a person of the ‘moment’, that really knows how to hit the spot musically and by chance this interview is no exception. Through luck, chance and timing, we were offered an interview with a first class producer, remixer and DJ that has been contributing his love and knowledge of music since the age of 13 – so we can say for sure that DJ SPEN really has the right to be in the top position as a remixer, producer and global dj.
Stepping back to the early days music is in DJ Spen’s blood. his roots are in gospel music and his earliest musical memories are of his mother, aunts, and cousins singing in the family church choir while his brother and cousins played the instruments. As he grew, his older brothers introduced him to funk, rock n roll, and soul. It wasn’t long before he was hired to DJ parties and events and paid to make mix tapes for local radio stations – all before he could even drive. Though his playlist has changed from hip hop and R&B to disco and house, his love of good music has never changed. Sharing that love with others around the world through DJing and producing his music and that of others on his label, Quantize Recordings, is his joy.
Lets Chat To DJ Spen
DJ Spen thank you for your time towards our Upfront & Personal feature at Soulful Seduction, how are you managing an extremely busy work schedule against making sure that you have some time to yourself?
It’s tough sometimes but I am a person of faith and that keeps me grounded. Honestly, I truly believe that much of what I do is about connecting with others and bringing hope and love to others through my love of music. So it really helps to feel good about what I do. Then there’s my wife, who serves as the VP of my record label. When she sees I’m exhausted she really puts her foot down and will block my calendar. I always make sure I spend time with my family and sometimes that means turning down some really good work. But at the end of the day I truly love what I do and when you do something you love, it energizes you.
If you had to explain your skill with three words, what would they be and why?
Passion, practice, and patience.
My skill comes from a love of music. I’ve been at this since I was a kid. I truly love music. As a kid I was introduced to soul, funk, gospel, rock, and R&B. Most people know me for dance music but my passion runs much deeper than that. I love the feeling of hearing a really good song or listening to really well written lyrics.
Many people love music but having passion isn’t enough. People ask me all the time to help them become a DJ or producer. But it takes practice, making mistakes, and practicing some more.
This industry and this work also calls for a lot of patience. It doesn’t happen overnight. You just have to be ready for when it happens.
Who encouraged you along with your career?
My parents allowed my first music group to practice in the basement of our house when I was a kid. My mom drove me to the radio station where I would do mix shows. I was too young to drive then. My parents only had one requirement and that was for me to go to college. I completed college so they would be happy but I’ve never stopped doing music.
What moment did you decide this is where you wanted to take your life?
I wanted to be a DJ from the time I was a kid. After I produced my first solo record Jasper Street Company “A Feeling”, I knew that I wanted to continue producing.
Where do you want to take your music and what’s your ultimate career goal
My biggest goal is for my record label, Quantize, to become a major player in this industry. I want to continue spreading the love and joy of dance music to those who love it and expand to those who don’t even know what it is.
How has the industry changed since you began, and how have you adapted to the changes?
The music industry is ever changing. I started with vinyl and cassette tapes. Back then you could make a decent living off of selling music. Now, music isn’t worth that much – especially with MP3s and streaming platforms. It makes it difficult to hire musicians and do some of the traditional things necessary to make really good music. You have to be somewhat tech savvy now or have lots of money to dump into traditional production.
Are you prepared to take chances with your music as musical tastes change?
Yes. I’m always looking to expand what I’m doing. The one thing I always do is try to have good musicians and singers who push me to continue to think creatively.
What makes your fan base go and buy your music?
I pride myself on making quality music that people can dance to and I try to maintain consistency of that quality in everything I do. And I don’t rush. If it’s not good, I’m not doing it.
Let’s talk about your gigs. When on stage, how do you connect to your audience?
When I’m playing, I try to look at the audience and gauge their reaction. I aim to make them happy and get them moving. When people are smiling and singing on the dance floor, I’m happy and that energized me. Also I don’t try to be something I’m not. I think people can easily spot someone who’s faking it.
When do we expect to see you live on stage doing what you do best?
I’m taking a much needed break for a couple weeks.
I’ll be in New York in September – always nice to play in the US.
I’ve got Ibiza and Birmingham at the end of September.
Working on something to celebrate my 50th birthday in October at home in Baltimore.
It’s possible I’ll make an appearance at ADE and I’m looking forward to playing South Africa in November.
You seem to have that magic touch…what’s the secret ingredient for any new DJ/ remixer artist coming through?
Loving what you do, not trying to be something you’re not, and being true to yourself and your craft. It goes back to what I said about passion, practice and patience.
What musical era would you like to step back to and why?
Disco era for sure! Musically, everything was so organic – the musicianship, the vocals, everything was so classy.
What’s the best moment in your career?
Playing in Melbourne Australia for Easter Monday at a party called Freakazoid, a few years back. I’ve never played for a more excited and receptive crowd.
In the way of your music, what have we got to look forward to, what’s next?
I have a Jasper Street Company EP coming on Nervous Records that’s I’m co-producing with Teddy Douglas. We’ve not produced together since I left Basement Boys so I’m excited about that.
What’s in your diary for the next 3 months?
Ibiza, Birmingham, New York, ADE, Manchester, London, South Africa, and Dubai. Looking forward to New Year’s – maybe in Australia.
Connect With Spen
DJ Spen Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/dj_spen/
DJ Spen Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/djspen/
DJ Spen Twitter – https://twitter.com/originalDjSpen
Traxsource – https://www.traxsource.com/artist/203/dj-spen
With Thanks to MN2S