It would appear in this age of digital music and every thing being technology driven that an entire generation has forgotten the importance of a true DJ; but none of this deters DJ SKILLZ on his path of becoming
The Great American DJ. Born Braxton Brown, in Florence, South Carolina, DJ SKILLZ stormed the North and South Carolina club scene where he gained his notoriety and massive fan base as a high profiled crowd mover. After dropping out of college in early 2000 to further his career in the music industry, DJ SKILLZ went on to make video appearances with Mr. Cheeks of The Lost Boyz in the “Light’s, Camera, Action” video, collaborated with Kanye West on his College Drop-Out Mix-Tape, as well as being the featured DJ on some of the biggest Hip-Hop and R&B Tours across the world.
We caught up with DJ Skillz to talk about the DJ Life, He talks Roca A Fella, His cousin Pioneer DJ Mark Ellavenson and more.
PEM: You hear names such as The “Youngest in Charge, “The Crowd Motivator”, "Mash Out King". How does it feel to be label as these names in the industry?
Skillz: There is more to a name than just the title, to me. So to have these title’s pinned to my name is one thing, but to live up to them is a greater challenge and task in which I love to do.
PEM: When did DJ Skillz fall in love with music and DJing?
Skillz: I fell in love with music somewhere around the age of 6 or 7 and I didn’t start djing until I was 17.
PEM: You actually started out producing a little before becoming a dj. How and why did you transition between the two?
Skillz: Well, I actually started out djing first and while I was perfecting my craft with cousin and pioneer DJ & Producer Mark Ellavenson, producing came natural just by being around him along with the fact that I taught myself how to play drums at the age of 7. To me, djing and producing goes hand in hand.
PEM: You got your first real opportunity during your college days when you embarked on your first major tour with Wu tang Clan and the Rza. Take us back what was that moment like for you?
Skillz: It was a rush. imagine being an unknown DJ, playing in front of a crowd of 1500 people for the first time, them going crazy over everything you do. It was an experience of a lifetime, especially by it being my first tour and playing out of state. Also, being from Florence, SC it was life changing and an eye opener all at the same time. It put a lot of things in perspective for me as far as what I wanted to do with my career and the direction I want to go in. Also, it showed me that the entertainment world was bigger than my city and state and that the sky is never the limit: it’s only a view. Definitely thankful for that experience and opportunity.
PEM: Ok! let’s talk about Roc-A-Fella Records a lot of people are not aware that you were one of the Dj’s for the label back in the 2000’s. Tell us how that came about?
Skillz: A college classmate who then turned into a good friend, then manager, was head of promotions for Roc-A-Fella Records throughout the Southeastern US. Before he became my manager, I was doing different promo events for the label and Def Jam whenever they were in the state of NC, which they were in the state a lot. From there, it went from doing major parties, to being the DJ on different Roc-A-Fella tours. Then Roc-A-Fella Records formed an R&B division called ROC Music and by this time I was pretty well known in the offices by the right people. Then I was presented the opportunity to do an official Armandale Vodka (Dame Dash & Jay-Z Vodka at the time) mix-tape with R&B artist Rell. Me and my crew took a trip to NY to meet with then VP Kenny Burns, the ROC music staff, and Rell’s manager about the mix-tape. Needless to say the meeting went good the mixtape was released, then Rell asked me to be his DJ. And the rest is history..
PEM: Wow! That's awesome. Who are some of your influences as you grew up? Not just musically, but altogether.
Skillz: My family as a whole, DJ Mark Ellavenson, DJ Ced, DJ B-Lord (Who was my 1st manager), Kid Capri, DJ Scratch, and DJ Premiere
PEM: Musically, What do you find different when you travel from different cities playing at venues?
Skillz: One of the main things I've noticed is that some cities are more versatile than others, as far as their knowledge of music and how far you can take them back and how much new songs you can play. Which keeps me on point and I love it. Another thing I noticed that all cities have in common is that, all cities love a quality DJ that can entertain them and take them on a ride. And when they’re not use to getting that on a regular basis you can definitely tell the difference.
PEM: Do you spend a lot of effort analyzing the DJ scene and figuring out how you can fit in and stand apart from every other DJ?
Skillz: I'm definitely a student of the game and I try to stay on point with what is going on: But, I never try to concern myself too much with what another DJ is doing or has going on. I just do me and go with what I know and believe in, that’s what got me all of my previous accomplishments, awards, and the reason why I’m still relevant today.
PEM: You've shared the stage with many multi- platinum artists such as Fabulous, 50 Cent, Anthony Hamilton, Usher, Dougie Fresh just to name a few. What’s that feeling like to be on the same stage with people of their caliber?
Skillz: At first I would be excited, but just took it all in stride and keep it professional to the point to where I wouldn’t look like a happy kid in the candy store. Especially, with legends and icons that I grew up watching on TV. Now, I'm immune to it. But there are still some living legends and icons that I get excited to play for still.
PEM: Any Last words or shout outs?
Skillz: Salute to Pressed Ent Mag for taking the time out to hear my story. Salute to my team and everyone that support’s the Skillz brand. Holla at me on my Twitter and Instagram : SKILLZTHEDJ. And just know that “The Sky Is Not The Limit, It’s Only A View”