Student DJs find creative outlet, form friendships at CMU
It’s not always a loud speaker, aux-cord and a smart phone providing music to parties around Central Michigan University.
The underground scene of disc jockeys at CMU has grown over the years due to an increased interest in Electronic Dance Music. Some aspiring DJs have decided to come together to exchange ideas and increase their prominence on campus.
Macomb sophomore Collin Huggins (Collin Julius), Bloomfield Hills junior Mike Apakarian (Blackout), Ithaca junior Dilyn Schooley and Clinton Township senior Tre’ Harris (Stevlth) have formed a friendship of collaboration. These DJs work outside of their classes to produce music and gain name recognition on campus.
“Being a DJ at CMU is very inspiring, considering I hear new music and am inspired by new people every day,” Huggins said.
Huggins has been a DJ for four years, ever since he helped a friend produce music. He already had a love for EDM, but it was then when he took a loan from his parents, bought equipment and started practicing.
As a political science major, Huggins sees being a DJ as a passion, not a future job.
Huggins got the name "Collin Julius" from a high school class where his teacher mixed up his name with another student's for an entire year.
During his high school senior year, Huggins got the opportunity to DJ at a bar in his hometown called Cervelli’s. He drew in large crowds and was invited back several times, then continued to DJ at various local bars.
When Huggins moved to CMU his freshman year, he spent his time producing and getting his name known in the Mount Pleasant community. Huggins met Apkarian while auditioning for Wayside’s Midweek Freak, an event that features local EDM artists either Wednesday or Thursday.
Apkarian made it while Huggins did not, but Huggins congratulated Apkarian on his success and the two became friends. Huggins was only a freshman at the time while Apkarian was a sophomore. Huggins did not see the tryout as a loss.
After a year of DJing on a college campus, Huggins has had a lot of practice at parties and has spent most of his time producing. He spends 20 hours or more practicing each week
He now has a song on ITunes, Spotify and Soundcloud called "Memories." The song costs 99 cents on iTunes.
Apkarian started producing music his freshman year at CMU because of his passion for playing different instruments. He plays the guitar, bass and keyboard.
Apkarian frequently DJs at Wayside Central. He has played as an opening act for Waka Flocka Flame twice. He started practicing his DJ skills at fraternity parties and worked his way up to performing at Wayside.
Though he knew how to play many instruments, he struggled to learn how to use various software programs.
“I hated being a DJ at first,” Apkarian said.
Learning how to produce music was very difficult for him, but it was nothing that practice could not fix.
After spending hours learning to use his equipment, Apkarian fell in love with being a DJ and became an established DJ on campus.
Schooley DJs as a side hobby and spends most of his time playing at parties. He has yet to open for anyone or try to pursue any bigger events.
Harris has been a DJ for seven years now and started in high school. He was involved in his high school jazz band, marching band and symphony. He was also in marching band for three years at CMU. He played bass drum and was section leader for two years.
Harris dedicates about three or four hours every day to improving his DJ skills by practicing and finding new songs.
“I focus on playing and producing trap, but I can play all genres,” Harris said.
These student DJs said they love performing on a college campus because of the exposure and opportunities they receive.
For the four friends, the EDM scene is a creative outlet and a way to take a break from their academics.
“The EDM scene is growing so much since when I started and seeing so many people come to me saying they have seen me start and grow to now is extremely humbling,” Harris said. “I am so happy to be a part of it as in continues to grow.”