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I’m kicking off this first column with a profile of a young DJ from Miami. I believe he's the real deal. He calls himself DJ Obscene. He’s a consummate pro, has a definite plan, and has built some incredibly strong relationships. You’ll be hearing big things about this guy. He may just be the next Deadmau5, David Guetta, or Fatboy Slim.
DJ Obscene or Jonathan Garcia (his real name), is young in the game—he’s 25 but he looks all of 17. He’s of Cuban decent and was born and raised in Miami. His look is nerd chic, glasses and skinny pants, hair is all jelled and pointy. His expressions while DJ'ing are beyond serious and border on a furrowed brow. When he’s behind the turntable, his can barely be seen.
He started mixing music on his computer at 14 and got his first set of turntables at 15. He’s been working the Miami nightclub scene like a pro ever since.
“What I admire about DJ Obscene is that he has always stayed loyal, he’s a hard worker, and he listens—which I feel are some of the most important details in the music business,” Pitbull says.
What I admire about DJ Obscene is that he has always stayed loyal, he’s a hard worker, and he listens—which I feel are some of the most important details in the music business
Obscene and Pitbull met in a Miami club, and have been working together for a few years. Now the Obscene mixes for all the biggies – Rick Ross, Flo Rida, and LMFAO.
His name came from a line in an Eminem song titled “Without Me” It’s me/I’m obscene. He says the name just stuck – it was intriguing and interesting and made people want to know what’s obscene about him.
Getting to know him a bit, I asked what was the most obscene thing to happen to him?
“None sticks in my head like the time some random person snuck their way into the DJ booth after one too many drinks to make a request. Security realized it was time to escort her out, but not before she threw up all over the place as she was dragged out of the booth. I don't know how, but I did not get any vomit on me at all, can't say the same about security though,” Obscene says.
Obscene plays the best clubs in Miami, Vegas, and lately the Bahamas—from LIV to Soho House, to STK. He says Aura in Atlantis and Mansion in Miami are his favorite clubs to play.
He’s one of the best because he seems to possess an uncanny ability to ready his crowd. Methodical in his observations, he says he’ll choose a 2-3 minute set, stand back while it plays, and size up his audience. He says he’s looking to make people feel the music and create a moment in time. He’s watching for movement or lack of. If one person isn’t dancing, he’s trying to figure out why.
“Miami isn’t the easiest place to be a DJ. You’ve got a large swath of people at a club at one time, it’s a melting pot of different kinds of people, locals and tourists, a variety of ages," he said. "The strength of Miami DJ’s is having to learn how to keep people in the clubs till they close at 5am—that’s a marathon set.”
A mediocre DJ makes a starting salary of about $300, moving up from there to $500-$700 for good club in Miami, to $1500 to a club in Vegas. A traveling gig, like the one Obscene is taking this weekend to Atlantis, could earn a DJ up to 5K. Dead Maus makes over 100K a night.
The real barometer of a successful DJ is not only mixing other people’s music, but going beyond and creating and producing your own music.
“Even though I infuse my sets with old-school music, people tend to want the same thing. And club owners, and promoters will always be whispering in your ear and telling you what to play, they need to see those sparkers going and the bottles flying, that’s how they know there’s money being made in the clubs," Obscene said. "That’s why it’s important for me to work toward the goal of becoming more independent and being a producer.”
Working at Clear Channel Y100 for three years, Obscene has been hosting on Friday and Saturday nights from 10 to midnight, for the last three years. The young DJ features what’s hot in the clubs and new songs that aren’t on the radio yet.
Obscene talks a lot about two local Miami fixtures, DJ Irie and DJ Craze. Obscene says he admires Irie because of his marketing and branding genius.
“Irie’s been able to elevate his brand to superstar status like few have been able to replicate. He was already a good DJ and brought a great entertainment experience to venues he played, but he has been able to take that and flip it into numerous sponsorships and branding campaigns including--Miami Heat, Carnival Cruise Lines, Heineken, Grey Goose and the list goes on," he said. "I aspire to build my brand in a similar fashion to be able to tap into corporate."
He said he admired Craze's skill and ability to remain relevant.
"He still gets down on the turntables like he used to in his teen days," Obscene said. "Right around the same time I was watching his battle videos and fell in love with DJing.”
Rebekah Sager is a nationally published lifestyle and culture writer. She's a regular contributor to Fox News Latino. Follow Rebekah on Twitter @Rebekah_Sager.