Fixing his ball cap and chuckling to himself he said, “I’m just over it.”
Former dj, Joey “Jetmore” Lease, said he considers himself retired. Although the glossy headphone design on his shirt reveals a remaining passion for music, he still believes it’s better to move on.
Lease, 23, began his dj career by mixing music at local parties and venues. During this time people noticed his different style. Eventually this style helped transition him from a typical dj to an artist in his own class.
Breaking into the profession
Lease received his big break after connecting with a family member. His cousin, a professional dj at the time, fueled the small flame burning in his heart by introducing him to the business.
After providing a brand new Mac laptop and dj software, Lease was on his way up. By the age of 17, he started to combine his love for music into a love for playing music. Two years later he racked up new connections and local recognition.
During these years, Lease explained how he worked for an online music company that hosted events. The money wasn’t a main motivation for him, but it was good. In fact, he received about three hundred to four hundred dollars a show.
As this money began to flow in, professional music mixing became his identity. Even the songs at the gas station were tunes of dollar bills, which energized him to get home and download them to his playlist.
“I would spend four hours a night just hearing music and downloading it,” he admitted looking downward at the spiral design tablecloth, which seemed reminiscent of a spinning record.
Not your average dj
Lifting the cold iced glass of coke, he started to think back on memorable moments of being a dj. He reflected on times when he worked at club venues, charity events and even more popular events like the LA Fashion show.
His long time friend and manager, Mike Lopez, attributed his collaboration with celebrities to a personal skill to produce the right music for the right atmosphere.
“Joey is a really talented person,” he said. “He has an ear for music, and he’s just in a different realm.”
Lopez, currently a marketing manager, said Lease produced his own music and pushed himself to become a different kind of dj.
He says this unconventional method caused success and backlash. At one event Lopez remembered the crowd getting frustrated because Lease didn’t interact with them. Despite this method to go against the grain, Lopez felt it best suited his personality.
“In the end, he just wants to play good music and have a good night,” he said.
Djs go mainstream
Although Lease was recreating the image of djs through his unique vibe, he quickly put a stopped to the music. This surprising decision came even when America is accepting djs.
This year Reuters released an article, DJs battle with dance music dominance in U.S. pop music, explaining the rise of djs in mainstream. The article lists hip-hop rapper and singer Nicki Manaj, R&B singer Rihanna, and even pop singer Madonna as music artists embracing djs and their new “club-heavy beats.”
Even Simon Cowell is aware of this trend. A recent report by Rolling Stone said Cowell’s next big move is to start a reality show to promote the world’s best dj. Although the article Simon Cowell to Launch DJ Talent Show received mixed reviews from bloggers, he simply responded: “It feels like the right time to make this show.”
Another story by Rolling Stone said that other American djs are taking front stage and showing potential to make it professionally. The article Pauly D Ready to Put DJ Career in Spotlight suggested djs like Jersey Shores reality TV star, Pauly Delvecchio or Pauly D, are welcomed in mainstream.
Even music companies like 50 Cent’s G-Note Records announced plans to release an album with Pauly D this year. Additionally, MTV green lit a reality dj show, which highlights the life and career of Pauly D, a professional dj.
Silencing the hype
“Djs are your average people,” he shrugged. “I think today djs are becoming overly admired. Many just play music that’s already out.”
Lease admitted that when he stopped being a dj his two cousins stepped in and helped him find a job. In fact, they recruited him as a delivery driver for a company called Santa Fe Machine Works in Fontana, Calif.
As a driver, he spent long hours on the freeways delivering packages for minimum wage. Fortunately, Lease said he moved up into a newer position as a precision polisher. In this job, his salary rose to $15 an hour.
To Lease, this is a steady income and a good profession. Although he doesn’t mix music at this job, he still enjoys it and may look to trade school to increase his salary.
Currently, Lease is no longer interested in being a professional dj. Instead of doing dj gigs, he wants to sell his laptop and remain focused on his job.
When asked if he would ever become a professional dj later in life, he simply said with a straight face, “I can afford an iPhone…I think I’m good where I’m at.”