DJ NOODLES *HIP HOP* DJ OF THE YEAR – 2011/2012
Best Known For: “Fix Your Face Radio” on WiLD 94.1 & SiriusXM
Favorite App: Serato/Reason
Tune of 2012 so far: “We Found Love” – Rihanna
The Track That Changed your life: “NYC Lean Back” (DJ Noodles Remix) – Biggie
What makes a good DJ great? The ability to adapt to your surroundings, and play for whatever crowd, wherever you are.
Most underrated DJ? DJ Big Hurt
Due to the fact that we have a very diversified readership, give us the true history of where you are from and how you started in Tampa?
I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, and came up through the mixtape and club circuit there, before landing my first radio gig at a station there called WiLD 101. I worked my way through the ranks, and made my way from intern to programming the station in only a few years. While working there, I got a chance to meet people in radio from all over the country, including lots of people who worked for WiLD in Tampa. After leaving the station in Buffalo, I signed on with Paris Hilton’s “Club Paris” nightclubs, and became the resident DJ at the Orlando and Jacksonville locations…flying back and forth between NY to FL every week for a few years. I also begin a nationally syndicated radio show, which for several years aired on 15-20 stations around the country. I also worked directly for a few stations here and there. After that, I was looking to move down south, away from the snow, and got a job here in Tampa at WiLD 94.1 for CBS Radio.
How old were you when you first picked up your tables and what was the defining moment that made you want to pursue your dream as a deejay?
My defining moment came the same time alot of other deejay’s moments probably came- the first time I saw the movie “Juice”. Right from there, when I was 14, I began trying to manipulate music on my parents’ old turntables and stereo equipment I found in my basement, before getting my first set of (really crappy) turntables and a mixer at the age of 15. I started DJing in clubs later that year, before I was able to drive to the clubs, taking taxi cabs and having my parents drop me off around the corner, so nobody would see me getting dropped off! From then on, music has been my life.
So when you first started out, did you start out with records and tables or did you go straight to basically MP3s and CDs?
I started out on good old fashioned records and turntables. Throughout high school I worked at a local vinyl shop that I later bought into, called 716 Records, and I lugged my record crates around club to club, party to party, and when I wasn’t doing something myself, I was carrying crates of records for the more established older DJs in the city, paying my dues and getting my foot in the door. It’s always an expression, but I can literally say I came up carrying crates for other DJs.
Did you have any other aspirations before becoming a DJ and if so what were they?
Being that I got into it so young, I don’t think I ever really had a chance to want to do anything else. I was extremely lucky to have parents who not only allowed, but encouraged me to pursue music as a passion, and I think I was able to get ahead of the game by taking it so seriously, so young.
Where do you see Hip Hop Music evolving to in Tampa in the next 5yrs?
I hope to see it continue to grow and expand, first off with the talented artists we have here in Tampa. I have traveled all over this country, and very rarely to you encounter the amount of real talent you find with the artists here in Tampa. Alot of people like to say that just because they are an “independent artist” they deserve or have earned the attention or support of the DJs and the masses, but at the end of the day, you really have to be good. And here in Tampa, you’ve you people with real big records growing organically from the street- people like Lil Kee and his team, Famous Kid Brick, Tom G, and the one I’m most excited about, Suntin Xtra, an artist I manage who recently signed with Plies’ Big Gates Records. With all these talented artists, I look forward to seeing them evolve and become national artists, and point out Tampa as a breeding ground for talent the way people look at the Atlanta’s and Miami’s, because there aren’t nearly as many success stories in the cities around America as there are in the hip hop scene here in Tampa.
In this day of age, everyone sees success but they don’t know the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that it takes to get there. Do you feel you have paid your dues as a deejay or are you still paying them?
I can tell you without hesitation I have paid them. From carrying crates for older DJs in 15 degree weather through the snow in Buffalo, to working for some of the best radio program directors around the country and learning from them, I have devoted my life to this, so I definitely believe I have paid my dues. But one thing about music, is the second you let up, the second you relax or stop pushing forward, someone else is always there ready to try to take your spot. So in that sense, I am always paying them, always trying to expand my reach and my brand, and still trying every day to become better and come up with new and unique things I can bring out through music on the turntables.
In business and especially life, you’re only as strong as the people you surround yourself with. Do you feel that you’ve surrounded yourself around good circles of influences?
I think over the years I have been around some great people, and I’ve at time surrounded myself with some of the wrong ones. It’s made me much more guarded about who I really work with, and who I get involved with business wise. Today, I believe I have the best circle and team in the world, because I don’t have a team full of “yes men” like some other deejays. I have a team full of guys with ideas, their own creativity, and that makes what I do as a producer, as well as DJ, much more fun and exciting. Usually because I can’t wait to hear what Xtra is gonna say in the booth next, or what new idea my business partner, Jamal Henderson, is gonna come up with next. If I just had a group of people who were there just to get into clubs free, all those ideas, brainstorming and creative conversations would never happen. So I think my circle is great. Shout out the whole Fix Your Face and the whole #TangGang.
Define what the word GREATNESS means to you.
To achieve greatness is to create something; a song, a beat, a mix, a show, a set, an album…that does something to effect the people consuming the project. Greatness in my world is when you can make that guy forget about his bad week, and sing along to his favorite Rick Ross song at the top of his lungs, or allowing a girl to forget she was just dumped. Greatness is having the ability to make great moments live on.
With Greatness comes Success, what does Success mean to you?
Two things- 1, I believe I am as successful as can be because I am blessed enough to live my life doing something I love, surrounding myself with music, and being fortunate enough to earn a living doing so. 2, I’m a business man- so I also have a financial view of success. I look at my record label and management firm Fix Your Face Music Group, and the growth of that company over the next 5 years will define some form of success. I want to provide for my family the best I can, and hopefully be in the position when I have kids to give them the opportunity to pursue whatever their interest or dreams are, without hesitation or concern about financing it.
Do you feel that your fan base is loyal?
I believe I have a loyal fan base, and a larger fan base that maybe isn’t “loyal”, but are into maybe one part of what I do. But there are loyal fans, lots of loyal fans always hit me up on twitter and talk about a mixtape from 5 years ago, or some remix I did, I’ve even run into someone from my hometown in the club (this recently happened in Orlando), someone I actually barley knew, and he mentioned that he still had a particular mixtape in his ipod. Those are the fans that will come on the ride with me when I try new things and also support the projects I get involved in- whether that means buying a Pitbull album I have produced on or paying to come see Xtra live in concert.
Have you ever used your success as a Deejay for personal gain or pleasure?
Anyone in the entertainment business will tell you there are always perks, I’m lucky to get to spend time with and work with some of the most talented artists in the world, and often times get to go see them live and all that, my whole life revolves around this, so it’s hard to put your finger on something. I don’t take money to play records. Thats something I have never believed in, I believe as a DJ it sacrifices all your integrity- people that follow of become fans of a DJ are fans because they are trusting your selection and the things you are introducing them to.
After many long nights in the deejay booth what is your favorite deejay hangover remedy?
Walgreens sells these things called “Be Kool” patches that you put on your forehead. I stopped drinking a few years ago, but before that, after lots of long nights partying at Club Paris and having to get on a flight the next morning, these forehead patches are the truth! No lie.
What advice can you give to anyone starting out in the business?
Be humble, and don’t carry yourself like someone owes you something in this business. Alot of deejay’s and artists I encounter from time to time think since they bought a MacBook and a Serato box they should be able to work at any club, or just because an artist raps and has been “grinding” for a long time they deserve to get airplay or something like that. At the end of the day, talent always wins. Thats a motto we live by with my team and staff at Fix Your Face Music, there are rappers or deejays who may have spent years trying to get “on”, but at the end of the day, life is not fair, and no everyone gets a chance to do this. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to, but I never forget that I worked my way up here. Every step of the way, I have done the best thing I can advise anyone to do- I shut up, and listened. I learned from everyone around me that I could learn something from. Don’t be hard headed, understand that if someone else is in a position you want to be in, they did something right to get there, learn what it was, and learn how to do it, and then practice doing it until you are better at it than them. And be versatile. I do a street new music hip hop radio show on WiLD 94.1, but in January I co-headlined Tampa’s annual NeonXtreme event and played house music and dubstep. Music is always changing, open your mind to change with it.
Can you elaborate on your family’s influence on your music?
My father has always been into music, he plays guitar and always made sure music was something appreciated and respected in my household. He’s a hell of a guitar player, but at some point, he realized that wasn’t going to pay the bills for him, so he stopped pursuing a music career and went to a regular job until after my sister and I were out of the house. He since retired and began doing music again full time, volunteering to help with music programs in elementary schools in New York that have had their music programs eliminated, amongst other things. I think the biggest influence I took away from all that, is it’s made me work so hard at becoming successful at music, because I understood from the beginning, that most people aren’t lucky enough to find a way to make a living doing music. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to be able to DJ, produce, manage and create for a living.
Would you say Wild 94.1 has had a big influence on your career and also your success in Tampa?
Working at WiLD has obviously been totally essential to my success here in Tampa, but nationally it’s helped in ways that the average person doesn’t see. WiLD 94.1 is known and respected as one of the leading record breaking radio stations in the country, the songs that break out of here tend to be the songs that turn into big hits around the country and even the world. Working for a program director like Orlando is a great opportunity because here at WiLD you are a part of a station thats aggressive with music, playing new records earlier than other stations, and standing behind new and often unproven records that we believe in here. WiLD also made the connection between me and Club Skye, my home on Friday and Saturdays in Tampa, where WiLD does live broadcasts from both nights.
Where do you get your music and how do you decide which tracks make the playlist and which tracks don’t?
I get music from everywhere, primarily the record companies send it directly to me, or the artists themselves. Lots of things go into the decision as to what gets played. If I’m doing Fix Your Face Radio, and I’m looking at a slot for a song, I’ve got these 4 minutes what am I going to do with it? I’ve got a new Jay-Z song, maybe the big Rick Ross club record, and then the local artist that nobody has ever heard of with a song that isn’t really that good. If I’m on the radio, I’ll probably play the new Jay-Z and break that record to my audience. If I’m in the club with the same question, I’ll probably play the big Rick Ross record that everyone already knows, because I want that energy that comes from people partying to their favorite song(s). I feed off the energy of people singing the hook of songs back at me louder than the music, or jumping up and down going crazy during the breakdown of their favorite song.
If you had one last thing to say to your fans what would it be?
Fix Your Face & Pay Attention of course. Be on the lookout for a lot of exciting stuff coming this year…come see me at Club Skye in Tampa, at VAiN and 23 in Orlando, as well as all the other places I currently play. Also support the new mixtape from Suntin Xtra, and get ready for new DJ Noodles singles dropping this year. Follow me for everything @DJNoodles and log on to DJNoodles.com