[INTERVIEW] DJ Skillz Talks DJ’s Being The New A&R’s, Current State Of The Music Business And More

The Mash Out King DJ Skillz is truly unique and unrepeatable! Skillz has become one of the most sought after DJ’s in the U.S. and he has a pretty impressive resume to back it up. Traveling around the country, Skillz has the unmatched ability to orchestrate records, while still keeping the party rocking and the tunes going.

With that being said, allow us to introduce you to the man who has rocked the wheels up steel with artist such Jay-Z, Erykah Badu, T.I, Kanye West, Anthony Hamilton and more. 

Interview By: Bria Janelle

Skillz, we appreciate you taking the time out to speak with us. What influenced you to want to get into this business?

Skillz: Im originally from Florence, SC born and raised. I played sports until my 11th grade year. At that point I suffered a career ending injury that almost left me paralyzed during a basketball game. It was after that time I started picking up the art of DJing.

I had two cousins that were prominent DJ’s and I always watched them, and I realized the DJ always stood out to me. Once the injury happened to me in high school my parents told me to have a back up plan….so I was like yeah I think I need to start doing it, and start taking it serious.

I started off with mixtapes then started doing my own parties.

Can you talk about the importance of mentorship, and tell us about someone that has inspired you or guided you to help you get to where you are right now?

When I first started, during that time my cousin had a birthday party in Myrtle Beach. He had all of the top DJ’s there from North and South Carolina. I was the opening DJ so that was my introduction to a bigger platform.

That night DJ B Lord was there, and he pulled me aside and was like, Yo I think your dope, lets sit down and talk when we get back to Florence. That alone was my introduction to the bigger markets.

When it came to B Lord I was opening up for him traveling all over, I knew this is the part of the game that I wanted. I was in my freshman year of college so it’s just been a full head of steam from their.

How do you feel about the state of the music business right now, and how is it effecting the industry?

Skillz: I heard someone say one time that the industry is changing because you have people with business degrees telling you what records sound good. I was the DJ for Rell on Roc-A-Fella at the height of the Roc-A-Fella era. I was in and out of those offices for meetings.

The difference between then and now is you have people who had a genuine love for music, and they knew what sounded good and what felt good. They knew people could relate to it. Not from a stand point of oh, we can get this many streams on this record because this is what 2 Chainz is doing, or this is what Kodak Black is doing.

Jay-Z’s ‘Hard Knock Life’ is a dope record. You put a record out like that right now, there like nah that’s not gonna work. He’s not talking about Molly or Pills. Back then it wasn’t about that. It was about the feel and the connection. Music is a connection to the people. I think being an A&R is something you can’t teach. You either have it or you don’t. 

When you asses the music industry from when you started to where you are now, what’s the best advice you have received from someone in the music business?

Skillz: I travel doing over 150 shows per year. It’s not always about a major co-sign. It’s about building relationships. Recently Doug E. Fresh needed a DJ to come DJ for him and guess who he called. It’s just one of those things. Some of the most successful people are not the most popular ones, but their work ethic gets them to where they need to be. That’s one thing that Doug E. Fresh always tell me, never chase the money, your talent is what got you here. It’s purpose over profit. He’s 50-years-old and still does over 180 shows a year, you think I’m not taking that advice and running with him. 

You’ve had the opportunity to travel the world perfecting your craft. Can you talk about the importance of building a brand and what your brand represents?

Skillz: My brand is built on my name. I just don’t do one type of music or certain types of events. It’s about being versatile and taking people on a musical journey, while giving them an experience of a lifetime.

A party is about giving people that feeling, music is therapy and the DJ is the dealer. When people book me they book me to entertain the people and it keeps me employed. 

Often times artist just seem to put our music with no real purpose behind it. Can you touch on the importance of building a catalog?

Skills: Having a catalog is key! I know for a fact in my short time when I lived in Atlanta I was working with an artist doing A&R work. One thing that made him stand out was that he had a catalog of records. We did showcases for these labels. The thing that made him stand out besides producing and writing his own music was the fact that he had dope records and to me that was incredible. I remember is 2007 we sent a label 30 songs just to show them we have albums already done. That alone makes companies be like yo, this guy is a worker. Their not waiting on anything they just want to come in and push a button and make it go. Preparation is key!

As we head into the summer can you tell us a little bit about what you have coming up?

Skillz: I have a FUGEES’s Live Mixtape that I’m going to be releasing this summer. Also Im going to bring back the Roc-A-Fella golden years project with Rell. He never really had a chance to drop an album, because it was right around the time that Roc-A-Fella split. I have access to about 98% of his catalog. He’s still active in the music industry, so the fact that people still ask for his music I think that it’s only right that I give it to them in a mixtape series. 

Lastly what advise would you have to a younger you trying to make it in the entertainment business?

Skillz: Preparation is key! Find the bigger picture. The process changes, it’s all apart of your journey. You have to learn how to enjoy the process because when you finally get to where you want to go you have to look back and say was it all worth it.

But…the preparation prepares you for your final destination and your journey. If you don’t prepare yourself for your final destination, then what are you expecting at the end of your journey.

It’s important that you plant seeds for something. If you don’t plant a seed, you’re probably not going to get anything in return.

If I can leave your readers with anything it would be to always work on your craft and fight for your passion. You can never know enough!


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