EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Dee Jay Silver

Dee Jay Silver

In today’s music, it is common to hear a remix of some of your favorite songs; even heartfelt power ballads have turned into dance hits with the help of some of music’s most talented DJs. And just when you thought DJ’ing couldn’t become anymore unique, enter Dee Jay Silver, the first DJ to be signed to a major Nashville record label. Dee Jay has played in premier venues in virtually every major market in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, but has ultimately found his home in Nashville. Whether he is touring with Jason Aldean and playing in sold out stadiums, performing on the American Country Awards, or remixing the work of some of country’s best known artists, Dee Jay is bringing his talents to the fans of country music in a myriad of ways. Dee Jay took some time out of his day of “bad television” while he recovered from the ACAs in Las Vegas to talk with me about his music, his favorite tour stop to date, and his future plans (which included getting back to Nashville stat!). 

Dee Jay, a proud Texan, got his start in the night club scene, which evolved from working a front door to DJ’ing every night. No matter where Dee Jay was playing, he was known as the guy who was somehow incorporating country music into his mixes. Perhaps Dee Jay’s interesting mashups stem from his eclectic musical taste, as he is a fan of artists ranging from Willie Nelson to Kid Rock to Snoop Dogg, who he equates as being “crazy talent!” And while the mashups were certainly entertaining during events and in the club scene, the record labels were, generally, unsure of how to handle Dee Jay’s particular style.

Eventually, because of the reputation Dee Jay established from mixing country, he began DJ’ing events, such as the Country Weekly Fashion Show. As luck may have it, during his first fashion show, his now manager was in the audience and heard Dee Jay’s unique mashup of Jason Aldean‘s “She’s Country” and Nelly‘s “Country Grammar.” Jason was contacted and told about Dee Jay’s use of his music and, while Dee Jay was spinning in Las Vegas during ACA week, Jason saw him at Tabu (a night club) and invited him to join his tour. Dee Jay has now been on three separate tours with Jason, which have included artists such as Luke Bryan, Jake Owen, Thomas Rhett, Eric Church, Thompson Square, and Chris Young.

Dee Jay’s tour with Jason and company included the record-breaking stadium stops at Wrigley Field and Fenway Park. Dee Jay explained that he grew up a huge Cubs fan and the first time he walked into Wrigley was on the Night Train Tour. Even though it rained quite a bit before Jason went out and while he was on stage, Dee Jay soaked in every moment in the stadium he long awaited visiting. “I just remember, it was raining, the crowd was rowdy, and right off the awning in the front row – the people who probably paid the most for their tickets in the entire stadium – the awning looked like a waterfall going on these people, and these people weren’t even moving. It was awesome!”

Despite the unsurety by record labels, Dee Jay never put his dream on the back burner and, year after year, continued to put “sign a record deal” on his list of goals. Ultimately, Dee Jay and his manager met with Sony Nashville and, immediately upon leaving the meeting, Dee Jay told his manager that this is where he was meant to be. Dee Jay instantly felt connected to the people and was a fan of the catalog and artists associated with the label (including Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, and Chris Young to name a few). When Sony extended an offer to Dee Jay, he happily accepted and has remained a part of the Sony family ever since.

Further, during the recent Night Train Tour, Dee Jay released an EP, entitled Country Club. When asked how Dee Jay determines which songs to mix, he explained that he creates a wish list that he provides to Sony, and Sony sends a wish list to him as well. The wish lists were compared and four tracks were chosen. The final track list was: 1) Two Black Cadillacs/Jolene; 2) Dixieland Delight; 3) Angel Eyes; and 4) Barefoot Blue Jean Night. Dee Jay is humbled and honored to have been able to work with music by Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton,  Alabama, Love and Theft, and Jake Owen, but he also would love to get his hands on Kenny Chesney, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock, Darius Rucker, and fellow Texas boy, Willie Nelson. Dee Jay described his ability to work with all of these “cats” as the honor of a lifetime. If Dee Jay had it his way (which it seems like he very well may!) he will be working on mixes using Thomas Rhett‘s new track, “Gotta Get Me Some of That,” which he believes will be a “smash hit,” Jerrod Niemann‘s “Up All Night,” and Brad Paisley‘s “Mona Lisa” in the very near future.

It could be said that certain genres might not be completely accepting of someone different coming in and shaking things up, but, fortunately for Dee Jay, Nashville, as always, remains open-minded and open-armed. “They understand I’m not trying to change country. I’m just trying to let people hear country in a different way. People that wouldn’t give country a chance to understand how cool country music is. If you say you don’t like country music … it’s like sushi. You never really tried it, you know? All I’m trying to do is let people give country music a chance that wouldn’t. I’m a huge country music fan, I listened to Waylon Jennings. Today’s country music fan grew up listening to Dr. Dre and Little Wayne and Maroon 5. There’s not one person in the world, in our generation, who’s a country music purist and listened to nothing but twangy country music. I mean, listen to country radio right now … Just the FGL [Florida Georgia Line] and Taylor Swift crossing over into Top 40 mainstream … it’s where we’re at in country music.”

Speaking of crossing over, Dee Jay also serves as the official DJ for the Tennessee Titans. Dee Jay explained that football fans are quite different from country music fans, in the sense that the entire stadium of 75,000 fans asks for one thing: to be entertained. To that end, Dee Jay is given the artistic freedom to play country, heavy metal, hip hop, blues – anything that will keep the fans happy. The football fans come to just have a good time, and, especially in “Music City,” the fans expect ongoing entertainment – with no musical boundaries. With the variety Dee Jay often plays, it makes sense that he refers to himself as “Party Rock Country!”

As if Dee Jay hasn’t experienced some amazingly cool formats to display his music, he recently made his television debut on Fox and Friends and his award show debut on the ACAs. Dee Jay pointed out that it was exceptionally funny to him that his mom contacted him and asked if she just saw him on her television, even though he told her days earlier he would be on the show! It seems as though many people in Dee Jay’s life were surprised to see him on the small screen, as he also received several messages, specifically one from a childhood neighbor via Facebook. Dee Jay feels incredibly blessed to have had the opportunities to share his talent with the television audience and to introduce himself to people who wouldn’t normally know about him or his music. He especially appreciated the outpouring of support from those who were with him from the beginning and offered figurative pats on the back. Of course, Dee Jay also enjoyed sharing the stage with some of Nashville’s finest, as well as Danica Patrick. “Trace Adkins said hello to me like three times. I gave him an awkward man hug! I had never gotten to meet Trace and I stood next to him and was like ‘that man is huge! Good for you, man!’”

If you thought that was where Dee Jay’s exposure ends for right now, well, you are sadly mistaken. Dee Jay also has a radio show called Country Club that is in several markets right now, which he is currently working on getting syndicated. He explained that he has “lofty goals” for next year, such as finishing the album, doing the events associated with the ACMs, CMA Fest, and CMT. He also informed me that he has a big announcement coming out this week about touring in 2014. Additionally, Dee Jay intends to do more Live Nation festivals and hit the road doing what he loves to do. He looks forward to creating more opportunities for himself and, of course, meeting new people and fans.

In typical Keepin’ It Country fashion, the interview ended with a “Lightning Round” of questions. I am proud to say that I stumped Dee Jay with the first question! Sorry ’bout that, Dee Jay! After several seconds of thinking, Dee Jay told me that his favorite country song is “probably ‘The Everclear Song’ by Roger Creager or ‘Snake Farm’ by Ray Wylie Hubbard.” Dee Jay’s favorite personal mashup was Genuine’s “Pony” with Luke Bryan’s “Drunk On You.” After we laughed at this combination of songs, Dee Jay stated that “it actually rocks! It’s been played like forty thousand something times on Soundcloud!” The last song Dee Jay listened to was Thomas Rhett “Gotta Get Me Some of That,” which he was listening to right before he called for his interview. Lastly, Dee Jay’s favorite place he has had the opportunity to play thus far was Fenway Park in Boston. Dee Jay followed his response up with the fact that it was really cool because Jason is the first country artist to sell out Fenway; it was the first time beer ever sold out at the stadium (they ran out of beer – ten thousand gallons – by 9:00 p.m.); and the vibe when Dee Jay played “Sweet Caroline” was just incredible. “You could feel Boston giving it back to you on stage. It was just one of those moments when you wish you’d not a been a cool guy for just a minute and pulled your phone out and recorded it. It was just, I knew, I know the heritage. I know the history of Boston … the pride. I know what it takes and the sacrifices they make every day, and the time they take to come to the shows, and to give something that connects with each and every person in that entire show. They were singing and you could literally feel the entire place shaking. I turned around and my monitor guy, and everybody is just smiling. I literally had chill bumps!” Dee Jay also pointed out that Wrigley was a memorable show, mostly because he had never seen Kelly Clarkson perform live before, and he was surprised to see “calm, sweet Kelly” turn into a “bottle rocket” when she performed. When Dee Jay left the stage, he remembered saying “oh my God, did you see Kelly Clarkson?!”

It was an absolute pleasure to chat with Dee Jay. He couldn’t be more humble, down-to-earth, and personable. From a writer’s point-of-view, you never know what to expect on the other end of the telephone when it rings for an interview, and being able to spend the time laughing, casually chatting, and feeling like you are just shooting the breeze with a friend is nothing short of a gift. I urge you to follow Dee Jay, as he is undoubtedly going to have a tremendous 2014, filled with new music, tour stops, radio shows, and more. Make sure to check out Dee Jay’s official website, Facebook page, Twitter page, and Instagram.

Thank you again to Dee Jay Silver for the amazing interview! We know that you will single-handedly be responsible for a whole new breed of country music fans in the near future, and we cannot wait to welcome them with open arms, as the industry has welcomed you and your talents.

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