DJ Tay has been spinning on the 1s and 2s since he was 16 years old, and with a DJ resume that includes names like J.Cole, Bow Wow and Chris Brown, he’s definitely who you want to rock your party all night.
GlobalGrind caught up with DJ Tay James to chit-chat with him about going on tour with Justin Bieber and working with Roc Nation rapper J.Cole.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
GlobalGrind: You started DJing at 16, how did you begin?
DJ Tay James: I became a professional DJ at 16. I got my turntables at 12. My brother, who knew all the DJs in the area, all the popular ones, he would not teach me the basics. I would have to beg him. He taught me the simple basics and I started doing talent shows. I really taught myself, like just watching other people on YouTube, watching other people on TV. I really taught myself the general skills.
What was the first piece of DJ equipment that you owned?
My parents bought me like a starter set, two turntables and a little mixer. I had to connect it to a little boom box stereo.
How old were you?
Twelve, 13. I even tried to do a party and it was terrible.
Were your parents always supportive of the whole deal?
They thought it was a hobby until I quit Best Buy and Burger King. They were like ‘What are you doing?’ I’m like, ‘I got $400 dollars at a party, mom.’ That’s one week’s check — one day.
Right now, what are the songs that go hardest in the club?
“She Will” by Drake and Lil Wayne, that’s about the hottest song out right now. Also that “Party Rock,” I love “Party Rock.” I love Ne-Yo and Pitbull. I’m definitely on that international scene. You’re going to see music change towards that, too. Everybody’s going to start doing the dance music. I feel like it’s like bringing old hip-hop back in a way, if you think about it. If you listen to like “I Got a Feeling” by Black Eyed Peas you’ll hear Lil Wayne do a remix and it’ll sound amazing. I like hearing it evolve is what I’m saying.
What’s the most insane situation that you’ve been in with Bieber and his Beliebers?
Wow. I just remember leaving a show in Australia. We’re stuck in traffic because it’s such a frenzy going on outside. And I guess no one thinks to lock the backdoor of a van. The car starts shaking and the next thing you know the door just swings open. “Ahhhh” and they start running onto the vehicle. We start driving and the girls are trying to run into the van.
Also, last year, me and Justin went to Omaha, Nebraska and we have a song called “Omaha Mall,” the reason why we have the song is because of this experience in Nebraska. We went to the most random mall in the city and no one expected to see Justin Bieber just walk through JC Penney. Because when we’re in a new city we try to find new shoes or new clothing stores, things like that. So, we went to this mall to find shoes. We went there and it went from like one person noticing us to a whole entire mall following us around. And then he drops this rap song that became a trending topic on Twitter. That’s probably one of the craziest ones right there.
Has Bieber ever played any pranks on you?
Oh, what! Don’t go to sleep around Justin Bieber. Don’t go to sleep around that guy at all. On the Never Say Never movie, I was just trying to make some tea and I guess the cameras were on him and he was trying to be funny, I don’t know, he threw a ice cube, and with him, if we go back and forth, he just escalates it. So, the next thing you know it’s a soap war. I’m picking him up, he’s putting my shirt over my head. I have him over my shoulder. He pours soap over my head. It was crazy.
Do you feel like your attachment to him will make it hard for you to erase the title of “Justin Bieber’s DJ” in the future?
Actually, right now, I feel like it’s a blessing to have that title. He’s the biggest artist in the world. And also, besides that, he’s also a good friend of mine. I’m just happy to be in this position. To go from where I’m going or where I went, just to be here, it’s definitely a position to have for any DJ. I feel like any DJ in their mind will want to have what I’m doing right now, but, on top of that … I started to branch off myself. If you look on my YouTube page, I have a season; I’m about to be on season four, on going on tour in South America. But last season, season three, was all about my experiences, everything I did off tour, the parties I was doing, the sites, the food I was eating, the different places I was going, I filmed everything, just to branch off. And I started averaging at least 15 thousand hits per episode. It’s definitely going to be ‘Oh yeah, it’s Justin Bieber’s DJ,’ but at the same time I’m making a name for myself, too.
You helped J. Cole with the production of “American Dreaming”?
Oh, yeah, J. Cole is a good friend of mine. I met him early in his career. I did one of his first shows when he was on tour with Wale, before I got with Justin. But, his road manager is a good friend of mine; I went to school with him. I know his brother. I just did a best of mixtape before he dropped The Warm Up. And it was a compilation of all of his songs he was dropping beforehand. But it just happened to get a lot of hits online. I also did one with Bun B, that did pretty good, too. It was on MissInfo and Funkmaster Flex Tweeted about it.
How is it different working with artists like J. Cole and working with Justin Bieber?
Well that’s part of my website, WeDoTheDJs, just to show both sides of everything. It’s not just the top-40. Yeah, he’s Justin Bieber’s DJ, but he just did a tape that’s great for the hip-hop community, with Bun B. He did a tape with a up and coming rapper who’s going to be successful, J. Cole. I’m trying to show both sides. I’m also working on a Britney Spears best of tape, right now, just to keep both balance. Another thing I’m starting is Pop Star Radio, which is going to be a mixtape of all popular music from every genre. It’s going to be international, it’s going to be in the States, it’s going to be music from Africa, it’s going to be music from everywhere across the country that’s popular.
What’s the proudest moment in your career?
The MTV VMAs. Just being on stage for the VMAs. I used to watch that growing up and just being able to sit there and be on stage, especially with Justin Bieber, who’s like the number one artist right now. Just being with him — just getting that call. I was actually with Blake actually, he’s my barber, too, he’s also an up-and-coming rapper, he’s been on your site, actually. He was cutting my hair and I got the call from Justin. He was like ‘You better take that call. You better go to Oklahoma.’
Do you have any advice for the kids on the up and up who want to get where you are?
Honestly, just live your dreams and just do what you do. Get what you want to do. Don’t let no one tell you that you can’t be what you want.
Last question: Do you have Bieber fever?
All day, every day.