In 2002, Rob Principe and the late Jam Master Jay founded Scratch DJ Academy with the goal of lowering the barrier of entry to the art form of the DJ. Scratch’s historic first semester received media attention worldwide with instructors including Jam Master Jay, DJ Premier, A-trak, Evil Dee, and many more. Scratch DJ Academy went on to sell out every semester during its first year and eventually moved to a permanent location in the East Village (where it is located today).
Over the next few years, Scratch opened additional locations in Los Angeles (2004) and Miami (2005), and expanded its course offering to include music production.
Today, Scratch teaches over 100,000 people how to DJ annually through its physical locations and national tours. Scratch has taught students from all 50 states, 35 different countries, and is widely recognized as the world leader in DJ and music production education.
Scratch DJ Academy counts several celebrity fans and affiliates including Samantha Ronson, Marc Ronson, Lil Jon, DJ Irie, DJ AM, Jazzy Jeff, and Snoop Dogg, among many others.
I recently spoke with TJ Mizell, son of the late Jam Master Jay of Run DMC. He is following in his dad’s footstep as a DJ, being involved in the Scratch DJ Academy and recently joining Run DMC on stage. Here is what he had to say in our exclusive interview.
Interview with TJ Mizell:
Belinda: Your dad is Jam Master Jay from Run DMC. Did you realize while growing up how big and popular the band was?
TJ Mizell: I never really got to fully understand the legacy behind Run DMC until I was a little bit older. I just knew Jam Master Jay as “dad” and I still do. Although now I’m a little bit more aware of the impact that my father has on music culture today.
Belinda: What made you want to go into the DJ field?
TJ Mizell: As a kid I was always involved with music. I played various instruments growing up and knew that music was my passion at a young age. As I got older I wanted to find a way to express myself to the masses through music so I started interning at the Scratch DJ Academy. I worked on my craft day in and day out. I was taken under the wing of some of the awesome instructors at Scratch and I’ve been pushing my limits ever since.
Belinda:· Did your dad give you any advice on DJing or about the business in general, that you use the most today?
TJ Mizell: I was still fairly young when my father was around so DJing and the music business wasn’t really a topic of conversation for us then. But I can say that he instilled in me the love for music that I have now. He really showed me how to appreciate music for what is was in every way.
Belinda:· How have you seen DJing change in the past 10 years and the influence of your dad’s work on DJing today?
TJ Mizell: In my eyes, DJing has gone through a rise, a fall, and now we are in the midst of a new golden age for DJs. DJs went from being the life of the party and the glorified one man band for emcees in the 80s and 90s, to being nothing but a service for clubs, bars and lounges in the late 90s up until around 6 years ago. Now the DJ is the rock star. People pay normal concert prices to see a DJ rock a crowd of thousands. The DJ has found his way back to the main stage and I feel as if the appreciation of the art form that my father instilled has a lot to do with the success of today’s DJs.
Belinda:· Are there any DJs out there that you admire?
TJ Mizell: I admire countless DJs. I’ve got a lot to learn and I’m constantly learning new things from observing numerous DJs, but I have to say that A-Trak is at the top of my list because of his originality with his cuts and use of the turntables during his sets. You don’t really see too many people do what he does and that’s what makes him incredibly unique.
Belinda: Run DMC recently had their first performance since disbanding in 2002 at Jay Z ‘s Made In America. You performed with them, is that correct? What were you feeling on that day and your thoughts on the performance after it was over? Have you been in touch with Rev Run and DMC and their families throughout the years?
TJ Mizell: Yes, I was given the awesome opportunity to perform with Run DMC at the Made In America Festival. Thoughts prior to and the day of the show could be summed up in one word: surreal. Seeing my father perform years ago was a breathtaking experience so being a part of the show was even more incredible. After the show I felt like as if I was walking on air. Just an overall unforgettable experience.
Belinda:·Run DMC is one of my favorite groups and I have many favorite songs by them. Which songs are your favorites?
TJ Mizell: My favorite Run DMC songs have to be Peter Piper, Walk This Way, and Rock Box. And that’s in no particular order.
Belinda:· Do you have plans to perform again live with Run DMC if they do?
TJ Mizell: Yes for sure. I just performed with Run DMC again at the Fun Fun Fun Festival in Austin, Texas.
Belinda: What music artists do you enjoy listening to today? Old and new?
TJ Mizell: The music I listen to today always varies. I usually tend to stick to music that naturally forces me to exert emotion. So currently in my iPod you’ll find some Flosstradamas, A-Trak, Kendrick Lamar, Baauer, Mac Miller, Icona Pop, Dennis Ferrer…I’m all over the place.
For more information on TJ Mizell and the Scratch DJ Academy: www.stratch.com
Click on the link below to see video of TJ Mizell performing with Run DMC at Made In America.