Yesterday we introduced you to DJ Charlie White and his life as a touring DJ/producer. Today we learn how he built his foundation.
Part 2: An Education
While you were an undergrad at the University of Memphis, your music career really got underway. Why did you decide to pursue a music degree in Recording Technology? Did you finish the program?
I credit the University of Memphis and the Recording program for a lot. I’ve met some of my closest friends in that program. The professors are very supportive. I’ve been incredibly busy over the last two years so I had to take time off. I should be wrapped up with the program very soon. I decided to pursue a degree in Recording Technology because I wanted to have a well-rounded knowledge in all aspects of the industry. Performance is only one part. I find myself at ease when I’m in the studio. When I produced “The Last Crate”, it wasn’t something that I rushed into doing. It was a natural project that came over time.
Do you think your music education has made a difference in how you approach various career opportunities? What advice would you give to other music students looking to get into the industry?
I definitely think it has helped. Not only did I have to take courses in Recording Technology, I also took courses in Music Business. I think my advice for other students is to work really hard outside of their programs as well. The music industry is set up for networking. It’s different than a law degree. If you go to a top law school in the country, you have a great shot at a job right out of college. This is not the case with a music degree. You gain the knowledge and experience from your degree, but you have to work just as hard outside in the real world.
Besides DJ-ing and producing, what jobs have you had industry-related or otherwise that you feel have helped shape your career?
I’ve interned in multiple recording studios. I’ve mopped floors, cleaned bathrooms, and vacuumed rugs. The summer after high school I interned in a studio in Richmond, Virginia. It was right before I moved to Memphis. Engineering is one of the most under appreciated parts of the industry. Some of the nicest people you will meet, are the ones behind the scenes. Engineering is an art form in itself. I’ve learned so much from engineers.
Did you ever think DJs would become as popular as they are today with people like A-Trak, Diplo, and Skrillex making a name for themselves not only as DJs but as highly sought-after producers and artists?
That’s a good question because yes and no. Growing up I was inspired by A-Trak, maybe more so than any other DJ. He came from the DJ battle culture. Now if you look at where he is, it is truly amazing. I felt that DJ’s would eventually get the respect they deserve, but it’s crazy how far the culture has really gone. Stadiums are being sold out for DJ concerts. Festivals now have DJ’s as their headlining acts, right alongside the big bands. I love it. With more popularity, you definitely see an increase in kids picking up DJing, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing. Where it goes wrong is when people don’t study DJing as an art. Not taking the time to practice and really doing the homework. That’s where it goes wrong, but I’m loving the fact that hard work is paying off for DJing.
Visit GRAE New York tomorrow for On the Record with DJ Charlie White, Part 3: Process in Progress.