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Meeting J. Espinosa, 2019 Redbull Thre3style World Champ

Is there any other DJ who is more versatile than J. Espinosa?
Born and raised in the Bay Area, he is without a doubt one of the biggest names on the current DJ scene.
DJ ND had the chance to catch J. Espinosa online to talk about his DJ career and his vision of djing. 


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DJ ND: You describe yourself as an open format DJ. What people love about your style is that you're very versatile: party DJ, turntablist, radio DJ. Is it important for you to have this large scale of possibilities?
- When I was growing up, my idea of “the best DJ”  was someone who could play any type of music, in any situation. So I have always aspired to be able to do that. My favourite radiostation broadcasted everything from hip hop to house music, freestyle, breakbeats, trance - you name it! That had a huge impact on who I am today.
DJ ND: You started djing at the age of 14. Pretty fast after that you became active on the radio. Has radio been your first love or just an opportunity you have got?
- When I was a kid, the radio DJs were GODs for me. I used to study these guys. Being a radio DJ was really a dream. Even the DJs from my local spot all wanted to be on the radio. For sure it was my first love. I remember the night after my first DJ perfomance on the radio: it was probably 2:AM when I went back home, where my friends held a celebration party for me. I felt like I won an Olympic gold metal, ha-ha-ha.


DJ ND: In your biography, we read something very interesting about "care". Whether you perform in front of smaller or huge audiences, the satisfaction of the publicum is the ultimate goal?
- Well, you never know who’s listening to you. So I usually have that in mind. Even though it’s a slow night, I’d still never half-ass a set. Also, you do have an employer who’s paying you, so you can’t "not show up”…

DJ ND: About Thre3style. Your set was my favorite one of the past few years. How do you prepare for the competition? Do you have a particular training schedule or do you build the show up, bit by bit during the year?
- THANK YOU! I stayed in my home studio for countless hours. Even after I finished making my set. I’d still practice it every day for hours. And then I would get sick of it, and start changing things around. lol. I’d do my set with different pieces of vinyl. I'd do it with headphones, without headphones, with friends watching in person and on FaceTime. For some reason when you’re alone doing something VS when someone is watching - there is a HUGE difference. It affects the way you perform. 


DJ ND: Since so many things have been changed in the Thre3styles routines in past years, is there still a way to bring something new and fresh? Do you have an advice for DJs?
- Yea, of course there is a way. I’d tell the DJs to do what they believe in, dig deeper in themselves and go all out.

DJ ND: You're also the official DJ of the Oakland Raiders. How did you get there and what is your role? Do you perform during all their games?
- The Raiders were doing a promo thing at the radio station where I was working. at that time no Bay Area NFL team had an official DJ. They tested the concept and ended up loving how it went, so they kept me for 6 seasons as their official DJ.
The Oakland Raiders have now left Oakland, and moved to Las Vegas. This year will be the first season of the Las Vegas Raiders. I'm not sure whether they will have a DJ program in Vegas. We haven’t yet talked about it.

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DJ ND: You're born and raised in the Bay Area. Why are there so many talented DJs from this area? Is djing part of the culture there more than anywhere else?
- Well, we do have a large diverse DJ and music culture here. From the underground San Francisco House Scene, to Turntablists and Radio DJs. My generation was lucky to grow up with the groups like ISP. The DJs whom I looked up to on the radio end, had DJs Cameron Paul & Michael Erickson to look up to. So when you put all that together, it makes a lot of sense why we are and who we are out here. 

DJ ND: Like any DJ who travels a lot, you might have crazy stories to tell, anything you could share with us?
- One that comes into my mind, is how much people overseas appreciate Classic American Hip Hop. I’d even say they appreciate it MORE than we do here in America... I was booked to play a party in Oslo, Norway once in 2015. In America clubs are typically 21+ and if there is an 18+ party, those young kids will only want the newest mainstream songs, or stuff from the internet. So I was playing a set that would work great here in the US - new hip hop songs. About 20 minutes in this young girl came up to me (she couldn’t have been older than 19) and asked me to play WU TANG….this blew my mind. I can’t explain this phenomenon, but our old school hip hop from the States is alive and thriving way more overseas than it is here.

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DJ ND: With the Covid19-issue, shows got cancelled worldwide. How do you manage this? Do you see it as an opportunity to work on other aspects/projects of your game? A lot of DJs are focusing on livestreams. Will streaming become as important as mixtapes in the past?

I think streaming is for sure a part of the future, even before this Covid-19 situation. I'm a fan of DJs streaming, it's really difficult with all the licensing issues though. You can slide by it if you’re playing obscure music, or remixes most of the time.
I'm streaming with Twitch at the moment - twitch.tv/yoJESPINOSA.


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