Queens isn’t just the birthplace of rappers like Nas and Mobb Deep; it’s also where Mixmaster DJ Yonny honed his craft by seamlessly blending records. Raised in Delaware, the nitty gritty of New York City is once again his home and the epicenter for serving his brand of beats to the masses. At 28, he’s already scored a coveted position as producer of a major league morning radio show, currently lays claim to three mixshows on 92.3 NOW, and travels the world rocking house music in locales like Canada and France.
With a résumé that boasts beatmaking props for artists like Nina Sky—he produced their track “The Other Side,” among others—and a highly regarded mixtape series titled This Is My House, it’s no surprise he’s scored a slot as a contestant on the second season of BET’s “Master of the Mix.” This genre-bending DJ, who looks to Donald Trump and DJ Jazzy Jeff for inspiration, never lets his needle off the record.
Read on as the winner of the 2011 Latin Mixx Award for Mixtape of the Year shares his vision for success, explains why one Miami-bred rap star has the dance world on lock, lets loose about a goal he’s set on achieving, and reveals the one party record that supersedes everything.
1. How long have you been a DJ?
I’ve been DJing for about 17 years. It goes back to 1994, when I got my start.
2. What are you currently working on?
I have radio shows on 92.3 NOW [in New York City]. I have three different weekly shows. One is the “Friday Night Fix” from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m., I have the “Weekend Rollout” at 6 p.m. on Fridays, and then “Saturday Night Dance Factory” on Saturdays at 10 p.m. On top of that, I have the “Master of the Mix” national TV show on BET. It’s a DJ reality show competition. The winner gets $250,000 and that’s on each and every Saturday night at 12 midnight. I’m also putting out weekly mixes on my website as well as CrooklynClan.net. And I have freelance projects for Interscope and Atlantic Records.
3. How did you get your first big break?
I was an intern for Power 105.1 [in New York City]. It was in 2005, in the promotions department. I was handing out flyers and things to promote the radio station. My first big “in,” and getting paid, like on-air work, was being the assistant producer of the “Star & Buc Wild Morning Show.” That was like my first big break, in 2006, like a year after I interned.
4. Moment when you knew you had made it?
When I first went into the interview to get the promotions intern position, and seeing the logos on the wall and the bright lights surrounding the logos. That’s when it kinda hit me, like, “I did it.”
5. Favorite artists right now?
I’m gonna say Pitbull. He has evolved so much with the change of music and time. He’s killing it right now. He started off featuring on other people’s records and now he has artists featured on his records. It’s very poppin’, dance [music], but that’s what the world is going to. He’s killing it. He’s charting all over the world.
6. Artists to look out for in 2012?
Adele, and people may be like, “She’s already out.” But I think Adele already has shown what she can do and she’s already made hits, but I think she has yet to really get the crazy, crazy, Lady Gaga-type music. So people should keep checking for her.
7. What do you consider your greatest accomplishment?
I have two. One was radio and now it’s television. The first great feeling was when I heard a recording of my mixes being played on the air for the first time on Power [105.1], and just being inside of a car or listening to a radio and hear my name and hear my mix on the air. The first mix that played, since I was still new, they had me pre-record it, so hearing my mix back, that was like my No. 1 goal in life to be on radio. As a kid, that was my biggest dream. And I did it. And the next thing was television ['Master of the Mix'], being able to see my face on a TV screen and people all over the country, people that I develop relationships with and seeing friends and family comment on seeing me on TV, that’s another moment. Those are both two different milestones in my life, which is kind of cool.
8. Future goals?
My next biggest thing that I’m working on—if it’s not developing a spin-off show for myself—is to make a hit record and produce a club banger. I’m going to do that.
9. What record always gets the party started?
“Show Me Love,” Robin S. I would say that and any Biggie or Jay-Z record is always good to start a party, just ’cause it’s a historical piece of music when you hear a Jay-Z “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” or Biggie “Hypnotize.” Those are songs that you can play in any genre, any demographic, and you can rock any party with that—globally. You can never go wrong with that.
10. What advice would you give to aspiring DJs?
Learn as much as possible. Study the craft, study all art forms of the craft. Learn from different DJs; there’s so many different types of DJs and producers. Look who’s doing it now. See who’s successful now in different avenues and study them and do research and see why they are who they are and what they did to get there. Basically, find out what you would like to do and follow that path and make your own lane. Don’t be afraid to be different.
This Is Still My House Mixtape
To find out more about DJ Yonny, visit his website and follow him on Twitter @DJYonny.
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