Before Dee Jay Silver came along, no DJ had ever been signed by a major country record label. But that didn’t stop him from adding “record deal” to his list of professional goals.
“I’ve been told ‘no’ my whole life,” Silver explains, “and if you let people tell you ‘no,’ that’s your fault. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t speak it, if you don’t believe it, it won’t happen.”
Spoken like a true self-help guru. The thing is, Silver has actually been crossing things off his list left and right. His radio show Country Club is going into syndication. He’ll be joining Brad Paisley’s Beat This Winter Tour in February, after playing arenas, and sometimes even stadiums, with Jason Aldean for the past three years. His Country Club EP was released by Sony Nashville in 2013, in the middle of his first season as official DJ for the Tennessee Titans. All of that, along with the popularity of remixes he’s posted online, high-profile club bookings, country music award show appearances and his instantly recognizable porcupine-style ‘do, has given the Texas-to-Tennessee transplant a national presence as country’s premiere track-tweaking, bass-juicing DJ.
On a rare day at home in Nashville, while retrieving his truck from valet parking at a downtown restaurant, Silver put in a call to MusicRadar for an interview covering everything from why he was so convinced that country and programmed beats belonged together in the first place to the tools of his trade and the uphill battles, and scissor lifts, he’s confronted to get where he is.
Since there was really no such thing as a country mash-up DJ before you got started, how did you come to do what you do? The story goes that you worked the door at a club during college and became fascinated by what the DJ was doing. What happened from there?
“I just started opening the show for him, and that led to doing my own shows. It’s so funny – DJs that are on top of the world now are DJs that I’ve known for years, that kinda, like, gave me advice. Like DJ Z-Trip. I saw him when I first started DJing. I walked up to him and I was like, ‘I don’t want to be you or take anything from you. I would just like advice.’ ‘Cause he was just on some next-level kind of stuff. He told me, ‘I’m a rock guy. What are you?’ I go, ‘I’m a redneck.’ He just laughed. He was like, ‘I don’t know what you’re gonna do with that, but good luck.’
“That was probably, man, 1999. That was before DJs were like rock stars, you know? I just heard him play, and I was like, ‘Oh my god. This is phenomenal.’ Dr. Dre and mixing it in with Elton John, stuff like that. I just remember sitting there every night – and I still practice every night – just sitting in my house on a Monday night until 6 o’clock in the morning, just trying to hear a song and put a picture and words together.”