DJ Reg West Talks Humble Beginnings, Touring & His 5-Year Plan
From the luxurious clubs in Dubai to the packed concerts in Japan, DJ Reg West is hardly ever home. The New York born DJ has become an international fixture, going on tours and rocking out parties with some of the biggest names in music including Fabolous, Jazmine Sullivan, Lil Kim, and Jay Sean just to name a few. His electrifying music blend reaches all demographics, making him one of the most elite and worldly DJ’s sought after today. In between performing on stages for thousands of fans, DJ Reg West lends his skills for good, as the official DJ to New York Yankees’ star Derek Jeter’s organization, Jeter’s Leaders. West spins for A-list musical artists, athletes and executives promoting youth leadership and social change.
Reg West’s talents have made him a regular on the scene and the media has taken notice. He’s been profiled in XXL, US Weekly, Guest of Guest, MLB.com and many other publications, websites and blogs. West has also made a name for himself on television as he has been featured on MTV, ABC’s Good Morning America, BET’s 106 & Park and Fox’s Good Day New York. West has also found a passion for production, receiving international acclaim for his remixing of popular hits by top musical acts today including Chris Brown, Ellie Goulding, Maroon 5, Rihanna, and many more. Currently, Reg West is on tour with singer and actor Mack Wilds. When he is not deejaying for Mack, he can be found broadcasting his Friday night mix on Jamie Foxx’s Sirius XM radio station, The Foxxhole.
With all of this, the international DJ carved a few moments out of his day to chat with us from everything to touring the world to how he got his big break in music! Check out our exclusive with DJ Reg West.
DJ Reg West: Mike, how you doing sir?
Mike Sanford: I’m doing good, how are you DJ Reg West?
RW: I’m doing alright bro; I’m doing alright today!
MS: Excellent, well thank you for giving us this time! I know with being a touring DJ you probably have a lot on your plate.
RW: No, thank you bro; I appreciate your time as well!
MS: So can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.
RW: I’m a tour DJ mainly. I’ve been with artist such as Fabolous, Lil’ Kim, Jazmine Sullivan, Jay Sean and currently I’m working with Mack Wilds! Besides doing the touring work, I do a lot of work with brands and celebrities. I am the DJ for Derek Jeter’s foundation that’s all about the kids. We do a lot of events that raise money so that the kids can have a better future. Besides that, I’m in the club as every other DJ should be! [Laughs]
MS: How did you get into actually being a DJ?
RW: I grew up in a household that revolved around music. My brothers are much older than I am, and I was kind of the ‘uh-oh’ kid if you know what I mean! [Laughs] My oldest brother was involved in the movement of music in Queens. He would be the soundman for all of the park jams back in the day. He would have to watch me so he’d bring me to the park jams. So, watching that and the interaction with the DJ and the crowd moved me to want to be apart of it. Not only that, but my father used to own a club back in the day and being around those elements influenced me in wanting to do what I do today.
MS: When was the first you actually got behind the turntables and did your thing?
RW: Let’s fast forward to high school when I moved to Long Island. Anybody who knew me in my high school years, I always had my headphones and my CD player. So, a friend of mine knew that I was heavy into music and introduced me to another kid who was heavy into music. We learned how to DJ together and two months after we put our money together to get some equipment, we got our first little gig at this hole in the wall club. Not to date myself to bad, but I remember the first record I played was “Step Into the World” by KRS-One! We were horrible that night! [Laughs] But hey, it was my first gig and I think from that point on it’s been forward progression!
MS: When did you get your big break?
RW: I started doing my mixtapes. Nothing super duper crazy, but back in the day you had to go from store to store to see if your mixtape could be sold in the stores. So, I went to a store and one of the owners introduced to me another DJ who was actually in the back of the store at the time just hanging out. That DJ happened to be DJ 4our 5ive who, at the time, was Puffy’s DJ and he was Biggie’s DJ back in the day and he was from Long Island. He was a tour DJ and needed someone to keep him fresh on music. So he looked at me as the kid to carry his crates and he’d bring me around the people. So, that’s where it really started. I started carrying his crates to shows and events. Eventually, an opportunity came up for him that was financially in the right place, so he let me do it. And that gig was actually a show for Ginuwine towards the latter part of his career. I did a couple of shows with him and that was the start.
MS: And then you went on to DJ for all of those other people that you named?
RW: Right! The Ginuwine run was very short. It might have been a summer, because things didn’t work out. So, a bigger opportunity came and stayed with DJ 4our 5ive again. He was also Lil’ Kim’s DJ, but he got an opportunity to move on to become Fabolous’s DJ. I knew Kim’s camp, Kim knew me. With no rehearsals and no practice we went and did a show in Virginia the next day in front of 20,000 people and that was it! [Laughs]
MS: Do you ever feel like people don’t understand the importance of “the DJ”?
RW: I don’t think people don’t understand the importance of a DJ, I think music as a whole has become devalued over time. So, everything is taking a hit. The artist is taking a hit, music as a commodity is taking a hit. Things are like milk nowadays, they spoil quickly because everyone has such a short attention span. In essence, since technology has become much easier to use, they don’t value everything as much as they used to. My little niece can go on her phone, plug it up to a little speaker and do a party for 20 of her friends! That kind of adds to it if that answers your question.
MS: Aside from Mack Wilds, who are some of the newer artists that you like to spin?
RW: Well, it kind of jumps a little bit around. A lot of my tour work is with urban acts, but when I’m in the club you catch me playing everything from Rich Homie Quan to Migos, but the next night you’ll hear me playing some crossover tunes. A lot of the venues that I’ve been at lately are extremely open format! You might hear me playing some Guns N’ Roses one night! Who knows! [Laughs] One thing I love about what I do is it’s not just pigeonholed to me doing the same thing everyday. Everyday is a different adventure.
MS: So, how did you get involved with Derek Jeter’s “Jeter Leaders”?
RW: A friend of mine recommended me. Back in the day, I was introduced to Derek’s sister who is actually the president of the organization and I got an opportunity to showcase my skills. I played an event, she was happy with it and they flew me out to do this other event that they do yearly and I was the open up DJ. I started at the bottom and worked my way up to the main DJ and that was in about 2006.
MS: Wow, that’s dope man! My final question for you is where do you see yourself in 5 years?
RW: Wow, 5 years from now, I honestly don’t see myself being so travel hungry as I am today in terms of being a DJ. I honestly would like to fall back a little bit and be a little more on the managerial, A&R side. I’ve been travelling the world for a number of years doing this, and it’s getting a little taxing. Even though I love every minute of it, but 5-years from now I really would like to do more! With that being said, just taking more of an executive producer side to this life!
MS: Thanks for this time Reg, and hopefully I’ll end up at a party where you’re turning up!
RW: Aye man! We can definitely set that up real soon!
MS: Definitely looking forward to it!
RW: Thanks Mike!
All Photos © 2014 courtesy of djregwest.com