QJBlogs presents: DJ Yoo

By Trilby Goouch
Blogs Editor

Johnny Yoo touched his first set of turntables when he was in his first year at Queen’s in 2008. The economics student had a strong background in music (he played piano, drums and string bass in high school), and was able to pick it up immediately. Unlike most beginner DJs, he started with CDs.

“I started out with just my ears, no computer at all which no one really does anymore, which is something I’m pretty proud of.”

As he gained interest, he decided to take out a loan and purchase his own equipment, a hefty investment that looking back was well worth it for the amount of experience he gained.

He spent his nights practicing beat matching, scratching and juggling, and quickly developed performance-worthy skills. Armed with experience and practice, Johnny and his friend Sean Spence (ArtSci ' 11) began DJing friends’ parties and keggers.

Johnny was simultaneously involved in the Synergy Dance Show as a choreographer, which allowed him to network with the Stages manager and secure a Friday night spot opening the club. He went on to DJ for Ale House Canteen in 2008, which evolved into weekly gigs at Ale for over 3 years. As his name gained recognition, it became apparent that there was a lot of potential to take his hobby further and beyond Kingston.

”Using social media was key in getting my name out into the music scene”. He began using Twitter and Facebook, then incorporated Instagram and other platforms such as Soundcloud, Youtube and Vimeo to preview his work.

“It’s all about the branding,” he said.

He had his friend design a “DJ Yoo” logo and printed stickers for laptops and vinyl covers. which was affordable and highly successful (look around Stauffer and you’ll likely see his logo gracing a few laptops). He networked with friends and performed at conferences and Queen’s events and in April 2012 he won the Redbull Thre3style Competition, in which contestants perform for 15 minutes and are judged based on their musicality, showmanship, crowd reaction, turn table skill level and overall performance.

He went on to compete in the Ontario-wide Redbull Thre3style Competition at MOD club in Toronto, where he was competing against some of his biggest idols.

“I’d compare it to being a hockey player and getting to play against Sydney Crosby”.

When I asked Johnny who his favourite DJs were, he was quick to respond: DJ Vice, Headspin and Skratch Bastid because of their “roots in turntablism.”

Curious, I asked Johnny how he gets pumped up for his weekly shows; it turns out he follows quite a specific routine.

“I usually spend three or four hours ahead of time reading through music blogs which pumps me up. Afterwards I’ll have a power nap, go do my sound check and honestly afterwards go to Starbucks and grab a coffee to relax”.

And when he’s at the bar? “I vibe off of people’s energy; this past Halloween was amazing, I was so pumped up”.

Though he doesn’t see himself working towards an economics-related career, his undergrad has been useful in other ways.

“I don’t want to think of it as the content I learned, but that I learned how to work, read my notes and work with people; so in a sense I’m using my degree, but by no means using the content from my degree”.

So what’s next for Johnny? You can find him at Stages every Thursday for “Frat House Thursdays”, and he’s got a gig coming up in Vancouver on Nov. 30. As for the future, “the dream would be to be a part of SKAM artists based in L.A”, a group of DJs who travel all over the world doing shows and DJing for celebrities at private parties and events. In other words, “living the dream”.

Follow DJ Yoo:

Twitter + Instagram: @dj_yoo
Facebook: dj.yoo
Mixes available at soundcloud.com/djyoo

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