I had the pleasure to sit down with the worldly celebrity DJ Yoshi and find out what has made him such a success. I’ve been fortunate and blessed to have had this musical genius work many of my Untapped events! Anyone who appreciates great music as well as personal style should definitely take a read.
WBM: How did your background lead you to where you are today?
DJ YOSHI: I grew up in a Filipino household where success and striving for a better tomorrow was always pressed into us. I was lucky enough to have been exposed to music at a young age. From the piano to trumpet, studio work in my high-school to production… I was fortunate enough to have experienced what I did, [which] taught me about proper counting, pitch, key, and song layout.
WBM: Tell me a bit about your DJing background?
DJ YOSHI: Well, I started back in ’93. My brother was in a DJ group called After Dark Productions–corny, I know. They did local dances, sweet 16’s, [and] graduation parties. I learned how to DJ from watching him and buying scratch videos. I was lucky enough to link up with DJ Phillee Blunt, who taught me more about mixing, and DJ Vin Roc who showed me the art form of the turntablist (a DJ who uses the turntable as an instrument).
I started out doing local high school dances and college events, which lead me into New York City clubs when I was 15. A few club promoters (Ron Rae, Manny Lorenzo, Rhythm Method, Benjapol & Rob Koda, Marc Anthony Events) noticed me and started booking me. I worked with them throughout college and they helped me land deals with Pepsi, Boost Mobile, Hot Import Nights and other tours.
From 2003 to 2005, I DJ’ed for the NJ Nets. In 2011 I got a taste of pro football when I was asked to be the in-game DJ for the NY Jets. And I’ve been with Rutgers Football as their DJ and pre-game MC since 2007.
WBM: What led you to your interest in music?
DJ YOSHI: I’ve always been a fan of it. From listening to oldies and jazz with my parents, to trying to be a rocker myself. My parents gave me every opportunity to pursue my passion. I took piano lessons and did the whole recital thing when I was in grammar school. I earned the Master Musician Award in trumpet, playing at 13. I also played the guitar, as I said, during my wannabe rocker days. Each has helped me do what I do today.
WBM: What is a key lesson you’ve learned along the way?
DJ YOSHI: Loyalty to yourself. I’ve been screwed over for money. Thrown under the bus when things weren’t so great. Forgotten about after I lost my commercial radio shows. Each of those lessons have taught me to let your management team be there for you as a support system, but I’m EXTREMELY hands on. I’ll pitch ideas,T.V. shows, tours, [and the like] for myself. I’ve approached each of the sports teams myself and brought my management with me along the way.
There’s a saying that was ALWAYS over-used in the music industry: “I Got You”, which for the most part really meant… I’ll say yes for now, but really don’t care. There was a time, when I was doing basketball, radio, touring and clubs, [when] my phones never stopped. “Can we get you this song?”, “What do you want the artist to do for you?”, “Can you endorse our new artist?”, “Come out to the concert/showcase”.
All of those things stopped after I first lost the Nets contract and more so when I lost radio. It’s proven that I’m the only person that can truly look after my career, my passion, [and] my life.
WBM: Think of these four characteristics of entrepreneurs: heart, smart, buts, luck. Which one were you?
DJ YOSHI: I’d be a combination of heart, smart and luck. To be honest, my heart drives me to work in a smart way. I leverage relationships if I have to. But I’m lucky enough to have been introduced to certain key people in my life [who] help me do what I do. When clients vouch for you, that just means you were lucky enough to have had the opportunity to play for them so that they can praise your work and work ethic. When times get tough, my heart keeps me in it knowing that I’ll overcome the lows during that time as I have in the past.
WBM: What has been your highest moment in music and your lowest?
DJ YOSHI: The highest moment is the feeling that I get when I get behind the turntables and grab the microphone at Rutgers football games. Sure I’ve been more than lucky enough to speak and play for fans and patrons at concerts, tours, [and] sports games… But the fans of Rutgers Football? That student section that consistently shows love, the appreciation, and interaction that I have with the great people at Rutgers (staff, coaches, players, students, fans, game operations) makes me proud to be there each and every game.
WBM: Where do you see yourself in five years?
DJ YOSHI: In a perfect world: on-air television talent, touring DJ, platinum producer. I’ve been so comfortable behind a television camera since I was exposed to it that I live for that feeling. It’s a rush that you can make people happy with the sound of your voice. The actions and energy that you convey. A reporter for E! News or something would be incredible!
WBM: Who is currently your style icon?
DJ YOSHI: It’s funny, I do a lot of fashion events across the country but I’m not that severely into fashion.
I don’t want to be a bum when I go out, but I’ve always been more about comfort–more function than fashion really. I’m happ[ier] in a pair of 7 Jeans, Jordans and a shirt or sweater than anything else. I really don’t go with what’s trending. Out of all the guys out there, I can probably relate to David Beckham. He dresses up when he needs to, but he’s comfortable when he’s out everyday.
WBM: Fashion item you can’t live without?
DJ YOSHI: Sneakers, kicks, [and] shoes. I have over 150 pairs and Melissa will tell you that it does nothing but clutter our closets–and we have a lot of closets (thank you Footlocker and Nike)!