Tall stature can generate notions of power and success. After playing at the Sound Wave Music Festival this past weekend with highly acclaimed disc jockeys like Calvin Harris and R3hab, ASU student Tyler Sherman fits the DJ stereotype. Once he graces the stage, however, he goes by DJ Munition. The State Press caught up with Sherman to discuss the electronic dance music festival, as well as his experiences as a student DJ.
The State Press: Sound Wave was a pretty big deal. How was that?
Tyler Sherman: Sound Wave Music Festival was both a great boost for myself as a DJ to be associated with what is now becoming the premier EDM Music Festival in Arizona. I played on the Red Bull RMX Truck (It was more of a tank if you ask me!), which was one of three stages at the festival. It was a truck made for military purposes to replace the Hummer that Red Bull converted into a full on party truck with its own swing-out speakers, four LCD TVs, two Xboxes, and enough Red Bull to make any DJ happy who is spinning on board. I am happy to be gravitating towards playing events like this where I am able to express myself, through my sets, to the fullest to an extremely energetic and open crowd.
SP: Have you been a part of any other big shows?
TS: Steve LeVine Entertainment Company held a contest for DJs to open for a tour coming into town called the Language Tour with Porter Robinson. I submitted a 30-minute mix that showed off my talents in electronic dance music. I won the competition after a lot of hard work in July. I opened for the show and that was the first real time I got to play in a large venue with the music I truly enjoy playing.
SP: That sounds like it was an incredible opportunity. How did you start off with disc jockeying?
TS: When I was a junior in high school, I started attending dance parties geared towards high schoolers. I began befriending those who would throw (the dance parties) and that’s how I would get involved. They would say, “Hey, our DJ is (charging) us too much,” and I said, “I’ve never done this before, but if you promise to hire me, I’ll go get the necessary equipment.”
I started doing high school dance parties when I was in high school and it just progressed from there. I began to meet the right people who would be throwing parties.
SP: As a DJ, you work with electronic equipment, but do you also have experience as a musician?
TS: Absolutely. I was formerly trained in classical piano for five years. I was also in a band that lasted for four years. I played synthesizer and keyboard. I controlled lighting during the show, too. We would bring a little production of our own.
SP: Nice. Which genres do you prefer to play at gigs?
TS: I enjoy electronic dance music the most. I really like playing Armin Van Buuren, Gareth Emery and 3LAU. I also play all styles of music. I’ll go to a club and play hip-hop, and then go to a high school dance and play Top 40 Hits. I’ll play trance and progressive house music at electronic dance music festivals.
SP: Speaking of which, is it difficult to juggle work and school?
TS: It’s surprisingly easy. It doesn’t take a lot of time compared to a normal job, where you’re working 20-30 hours a week. During the weekend, I’ll DJ a two-hour set on a Friday, and a three-hour set on a Saturday night at a high school dance. It doesn’t really cut into school time.
SP: Would you say that there are some aspects of being a DJ in particular that can make things tricky?
TS: I’d say that there is a barrier of entry to the scene with a lot of the higher scale events. It’s tough, especially if you don’t produce your own music. I’ve noticed that if you really prove yourself on the promotional side by being very professional and gathering a big following, larger companies will notice you. They will begin working with you to get you on lineups.
SP: Yeah, that’s understandable. Could you see yourself doing this in the future, though?
TS: I don’t want to see myself as a 40-year-old doing a school dance, but if I’m producing my own music, I can definitely see myself doing that the rest of my life. However, I do have a pretty good back-up plan as a chemical engineer.
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