This past week we had the pleasure of sitting down with New York’s own DJ Steve Powers to find out not only about his producing career, but exactly what a day in the life of a DJ is really about. This was a fun one, highlighting everything from favorite foods to his childhood to what he does in his spare time.
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TheBeatMill: Where did you grow up?
Steve: I was actually was born and raised in North Jersey. It’s been just a 15 minute ride to the city my whole life.
TheBeatMill: What was your childhood like? Were you constantly surrounded by music?
Steve: Honestly, music has always been something that has inspired me and driven me in almost anything I have done prior to my DJ/Producing career. I was definitely more of a jock at first; I played 3 sports in high school, and went on to play football in college.
TheBeatMill: What’s your favorite food, and why?
Steve: This is easy, PIZZA! I can’t go too many days without an NYC slice! Definitely a steak lover, and Mexican food too! Basically all food, I eat a lot!
TheBeatMill: When did you know you wanted to be DJ?
Steve: It was really something that kind of grew out of fun. I was always the guy burning CDs and playing them at parties, which then turned into learning the skill of mixing and reading the crowd, which then evolved into my DJ’ing career. That’s the element I think that is lacking right now. There are a lot of great DJ’s that will never get noticed because it is all about making music now. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who haven’t had to struggle to make a living playing live in front of hundreds and thousands of people. They don’t need to know how to learn to read a room and really leave everyone wanting more. The good thing is that I think people are now more aware, and are becoming better educated in the music that we’ve been pushing for so long.
TheBeatMill: If you weren’t DJ’ing or producing music what do you think you’d be doing?
Steve: Still some form of entertainment. My wife always says I’d be a perfect ESPN anchor. I’d have some cool catch phrase or something, haha!
TheBeatMill: Did you ever think you couldn’t compete in the industry?
Steve: Never. The name of the game is confidence and being able to do your job and trust what you love. I’ve never had any doubts in my mind about my ability or my music. Now with the producing aspect being solidified for me, it really has taken my creativeness to a whole new level to where I can shape my sound any way I choose.
TheBeatMill: Obviously you don’t have your typical 9-5 job. What does your “typical” day consist of, if that even exists?
Steve: Usually I wake up, go to the gym, and either go to the studio, or work on something from my home. But it always revolves around music. Whether it’s the latest track I am working on, or going over details of some event coming up, or anything else in that line of thinking. It really is a 24 hour day for me, especially with emails and such.
TheBeatMill: What’s your process like for creating a new track? Do you always start at the same spot?
Steve: I usually find a kick I like, then a bass line, and then I work on the melody. From there I try and shape and sculpt the entire song around that. It’s like a Christmas tree. You find one you like, and then put the lights on, but it’s the decorations that make it special. That’s kind of how I work on a track.
TheBeatMill: Do you ever produce while on the road? If so, how difficult is it?
Steve: It’s really not too bad, as long as I have my headphones. The Pioneer set that I use really lets me hear all the sounds I would in the studio, and still has the pump that I am looking for. It’s also not always about how loud it is, it’s about how good it sounds. A lot of guys produce on the road out of necessity. I had the pleasure of rolling with Afrojack for a part of his JACKED tour in the U.S., and watching him and his crew work was simply amazing. It’s a non-stop job that they all take extremely seriously, and they have a lot of pride in their product. To me, that was something special to see firsthand, and really motivated me to be better, and I want my fans to feel the same.
TheBeatMill: Do you have a pre-show routine?
Steve: Not really, but I always get nervous. I saw an interview where Tiger Woods said the day he’s not nervous before a round is the day he retires. I kind of feel the same way. I try to come up with a game plan of my night in my head, and then push it to the limit. Anyone that knows me, or has seen me perform, knows I bring a lot of energy but I think my energy level really shows how much I enjoy what I do.
TheBeatMill: What would you say differentiates your style of music over someone else? What’s your most distinguishing feature or musical element?
Steve: I like to think I have my finger on the pulse of the crowds I play for. The music I am now making is stuff that I feel fits into my live sets, and brings my emotion out into my tracks as well. It is something that as an artist you are always striving for, perfecting your sound. It is a work in progress that will never end, but I think the people in the crowd know how passionate I am about music.
TheBeatMill: How many hours/week would you say you spend in the studio?
Steve: It really varies week to week depending on schedule and travel, but a solid 40 hours a week working on beats is about right.
TheBeatMill: Who has been your biggest inspiration since you started DJ’ing and producing music?
Steve: I am a huge fan of Classic Rock, and feel that they were the groundbreakers in pushing music to the next level, and getting it to where it is today. Bands like The Doors, Aerosmith, The Rolling Stones, all knew how to combine rock with other genres to help it evolve. That is where I feel the music of today is going, kind of combining all genres and making feel good music crossing all kinds of cultures. In the EDM world, there are so many inspirations for me, but the greats like Afrojack, Deadmau5, Armin van Buuren, Avicii, SHM, I could go on and on, but these are the guys who have really laid down the groundwork and the model for the sound that I am crafting today.
TheBeatMill: How would you say your style has changed throughout your career?
Steve: Like anything you have to evolve with the times. Music is something that is fluid and always moving, but it is so much fun to ride that wave. You have to be able to be versatile and match the moment.
TheBeatMill: What’s it like to be a DJ/Producer and have a fan base? Did you ever expect things to get to where they are today?
Steve: I have always hoped that people would appreciate what I do, and to have people come up and request one of my own tracks is something that is amazing. When you premier something for the first time, and the next day someone says, “Hey what was that track you played last night?” and it is one of your own, it’s cool to see the look on their face.
TheBeatMill: Where do you prefer to perform? Bar/Lounge/Club/Festival? Any favorites?
Steve: Any place where people are there to dance and be free…
TheBeatMill: Where do you prefer to hang out when you’re not performing? Bar/Lounge/Club/Festival? Any favorites?
Steve: I really am kind of a low key guy behind the scenes. I don’t go out that much when I am not working anymore, but my wife and I have a great group of friends that no matter where we go we always have a great time.
TheBeatMill: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Steve: The moment in the studio when you have made something great and you get excited about it. You want to go run outside and let the world hear it.
TheBeatMill: What’s the least favorite thing about your job?
Honestly, I would say dealing with club owners or promoters that don’t understand the music.
TheBeatMill: You’ve done quite a fair share of traveling. What’s the most memorable show you’ve had thus far?
Steve: There have been a lot of amazing shows, and I have been blessed to play at some amazing events…but I would say this past year getting to play a special surprise set with Paul Van Dyk in Las Vegas for his Evolution Tour was something pretty special to me. He’s an icon in this business and when I was done he gave me a hug and said, “Finally, I got to hear some good music.” To me, that was such an amazing compliment and meant so much to me coming from someone I look up to with immense respect. I will be forever thankful for that opportunity to take part in such an amazing tour.
TheBeatMill: What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen while performing?
Steve: Oh man. To me, it’s not the “craziest” thing, but I think people must be crazy to do it. I never understood the girls that walk around barefoot in the clubs after they take their heels off. It’s the nastiest thing to me.
TheBeatMill: What’s your take on the EDM industry today? Is there anything you like in particular about it? Anything you don’t like and would like to see change?
Steve: I guess the main thing I love about it is the global acceptance of dance music. Every award show is now incorporating EDM in some capacity and is really expanding its reach. People all over the world are getting exposure to the music that I have loved for so long, and getting the opportunity to appreciate it and do with it what they please. The only issue is that some of it is getting jammed down their throats and becoming very commercialized, but I guess that’s just part of the battle.
I would like to thank DJ Steve Powers for taking the time out of his hectic schedule to provide us with both his insight into a day in the life of a DJ and also for making us a killer sessions mix with three exclusive tracks. Best of luck in the future!