How were you drawn to the art of DJing? When were you first exposed to it?
I was always aware of DJing but never really paid a lot of attention to it. I saw Jazzy Jeff & Jam Master Jay at an early age but it wasn’t anything I fully thought about doing at the time. I gave up on my rap career early but I still wanted to be in the music industry. Originally I wanted to be an A&R but the rise of the internet kinda killed that idea dead. I was working in college radio at Dillard at WDUB. The music director was a guy by the name of Mike Swift. He was also a DJ, he invited to an event he was spinning and I went. From there I started carrying his crates and going to gigs with him. In 2006 I asked if he’d teach me how to DJ and it went from there.
Who were your music and DJ influences that you practiced with growing up?
Growing and really even still to this day I was always a huge R&B kid. I grew up like most young black kids with that “SUnday morning cleaning music”. Motown, Michael Jackson, Teddy P, Patti LaBelle, Chaka, etc. So that was my original exposure to music. Around 10 or 11 I started becoming more aware of rap music and starting listening to more. I was drawn more to East Coast rap at the time. I was a big Mase fan growing up. Bad Boy in general. Around 98/99 I started venturing more towards the pop side of things. So I was more of a MTV kid then BET. *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Britne Spears, Pink, Sum 41, etc. I had a very big musical range as a pre-teen and I think that helped me alot right now as a DJ especially compared to my peers that focus mainly on the hip-hop side of music.
How instrumental was Mike Swift towards learning the art of DJing?
There’d be NO Jay Skillz without Mike Swift. Swift’s been a huge part of growth and success as a DJ. From giving me pointers & advice to letting me borrow equipment when I didn’t have my own. I’ll forever be indebted to him for everything he’s done for me not only as a DJ but as a friend. I don’t think I could’ve had a better mentor because we’re both open format DJs and though we may not have the same taste in all music, he showed me there was no reason to be pigeonholed as just a hip-hop DJ.
B.S. Radio at Loyola University was your first radio show. What did you learn most from those 5 years on it?
Yeah, B.S. Radio was my baby. I used it as a showcase for local artists with new music. It was a learning ground for both of us. I started doing artist interviews and it helped me get comfortable asking questions. Knowing which questions to ask and how to try and pull a good interview out of almost anybody. Also, with the Full Of B.S. mix I was able to break new songs. The show also gave a introduction to radio and helped me realize that it was something that I really enjoyed and wouldn’t mind making a career.
Power 102.9. How did you get this opportunity? How did you feel when you got that phone call or conversation where they offered you the job?
Again, I credit Mike Swift for the opportunity here at Power 102.9. I had quit my last job April of 2014. I spent the next 3-4 months just surviving off DJing and working on my craft. It got to a point where the savings account was running low and I started looking for a job. I had filled out an application to be a phone repair tech at RadioShack and had an interview for that job. Maybe an hour later, Swift hits me up and tells me to come fill out an app at the station for a job. I went the next morning, filled out the application and started as a board operator for the Rickey Smiley Morning Show 2 days later. Getting the job was an amazing feeling. I’d been applying at radio stations for 8 years or so. It just never worked out. So to get the job in my preferred industry was great man. It gave me renewed energy in my career.
How Important was it for you to get of FM Radio?
It just felt like the next step. It was always a goal of mine to get on FM radio. Like I said, that’s what I had hoped B.S. Radio was preparing me for. Getting into that door is a major step for me because music is something i’m really passionate about and this avenue helps me out so much to continue learning about the industry and being able to elevate my career to the next level. Alot of things i’m currently doing I wouldn’t be able to do without being in the position i’m currently in.
You do mixtapes as well. What genres do you enjoy doing the most? Do your tapes have specific themes or is it just geared based off of the genre?
I’m an open format DJ so I play everything pretty much. All my tapes have themes or points though. Most of my tapes are based on love somehow. My GTD series I drop once it starts getting cold & again on Valentines. That’s for the bedroom. Drunken Memoirs is a series about whatever i’m feeling translated through music. Love & Microphones is a series telling the story of a man dealing with relationships and all the songs are by men. Audio Orgy is just the newest songs no matter the genre. I’ve got a couple other ones I do. My Tribute sries is just mixes on one specific artist.
Do you remember the first mixtape that you did? If so what was it called?
I dropped 2 mixtapes at once. Both were chopped & screwed tapes. I’m Just Screwing Around & Got The Drawers. One was hip-hop and the other was just R&B joints. I actually still have both of them in my iTunes. I have most of my old projects on a hard drive somewhere.
Being on Radio, what’s your biggest advice to the artist and other DJs out there who are wanting to get to their dream destination?
Don’t give up. This road is long and hard. It took me 8 years to get my foot in the door with radio. DJing it just took taking whatever gigs I could and then proving my worth. It’s going to be alot of nos and people trying to lowball you. Just network as much as you can and keep pushing forward man. Nothing is built in a day.
How can people find DJ JaySkillz online?
JaySkillz.com, Twitter & Periscope @JaySkillz, IG & Snapchat @jaysonskillz. Friday nights i’m on the Friday Night Mixshow with my boy G-Cue on Power 102.9. Sundays 2-6PM on Power 102.9. You can listen via the RDIO app or online power1029.com
Any last words or shout outs?
First off shout out to you Curtis fort he interview opportunity. My publicist Amanda for being awesome. My Power 102.9 fam. My House Of Reps crew G-Cue, Mike Swift & Cavalier Cavalier. The Definition DJs and everybody that’s supported me on this journey man. I appreciate that so much.