His fingers fidget around the board, twisting knobs and spinning the revolving discs.
As the volume fades in and out, and the pitch fluctuates, the sounds vibrate through the machine giving way to various loops and melodies.
The neon lights emanating from the turntable illuminate Dean Cruz’s face as he gazes through the crowd of onlookers dancing and smiling.
Cruz, junior, health science major, is a disc jockey, sharing his love of music. Becoming a DJ first piqued Cruz’s interest when he saw videos of the game DJ Hero online. At 16, Cruz received a DJ controller and he’s been mixing ever since.
“DJ-ing, in general, is just really important because it developed a lot of music today and there are so many genres like EDM and even hip-hop. It’s super integral to the current culture,” Cruz says.
Cruz says it is a very approachable hobby for those who want to share the music they like with others, and make them move.
“I did my first show this last January at the Milford Arts Center. And it was a really good time. People were dancing to the stuff I liked and it was exciting.”
He does not consider himself the most experienced, but is happy to having had the chance to share his skills, and love for the art form, on many occasions since.
“DJ-ing has given me a whole new scene; the Connecticut music scene is very inviting and has given me a lot of new opportunities.
“I’ve DJ-ed at a lot of venues like Seeing Sounds and some other festivals. I’ve also played backing tracks for my friend Justin [known professionally as Esmer] and other artists, too.”
Cruz says he believes that giving people a place to show what they have made, or what they like, is really important. This is a sentiment shared by Cruz’s good friend, and at times collaborator, Aldric Joseph, who currently manages Nusnce, a DJ and producer, based in West Haven.
“Music is something that brings people together. You could create the soundtrack to somebody’s summer. There are so many emotions attached to music and creating it for the right reasons is such an important thing,” Joseph says.
Joseph started his journey hosting open mic nights at Dunkin’ in the Adanti Student Center. The open mic nights created a space where people on campus had an outlet to perform and have fun.
With dreams of working in the music industry, and currently producing music himself, Joseph has found a passion for the business side of music as well.
“I see the potential [in artists] and can tell where they can grow. Seeing where an artist can be drives me because I know we have a chance to make it. It feels really good seeing everything play out,” Joseph says.
Though exciting, music and management are not without their difficulties, Joseph says.
“You still have to make the dream happen, and it’s a lot of work. Being able to take a no, or a no response, is one of the things you have to face a lot,” Joseph says.
Luke McDonald is an event curator and organizer based in Milford. McDonald started off his career in August of 2021 putting together a show for fun. Over the last two years, McDonald has put together a few different shows with a variety of local artists.
“Through the shows, I’ve seen not only musical relationships blossom, but personal ones as well. It’s so important because the artists are being given a platform and are able to physically reach their audience, which can be very hard for local artists,” McDonald says.
McDonald has booked Cruz several times for DJ sets this summer.
“Dean has helped facilitate a few of these relationships and is always feeding me creative ideas that we can add to these shows. He’s one of the most supportive people I’ve met when it comes to the scene,” McDonald says.
By Julien Hilton Laforest