An Exclusive Interview With DJ Cassidy: What Turns His Tables

by CARSON GRIFFITH · June 16, 2009

[Photo via GuestofaGuest] Even with AXE Lounge's impressive line up of DJs for the summer season (and almost equally impressive cloud of man musk at the door), there was one name that really stood out to us when we were sent over our first look at who would be hitting up their DJ booth. DJ Cassidy has created sweet music for the ears of just about every celebrity and who's-who around, and we're not just talking within the hip-hop world. Oprah, J.Lo, Diddy, the MTV Music Awards... The President?! The Native New Yorker who is one of the world's most well-known DJs, and who was in action at AXE just this last Saturday, talks to us about Obama's inauguration, relationships, vacation spots, producing, fashion, and well, just about everything... except Beyonce and JayZ's wedding that is. So close!

On your site it mentions how you can blend any genre, really. Is there any type of music you don't use?

I don’t really play country music – there's no such thing as a cheesy song to me, nor do I have anything against country music, it’s very similar to R&B music, it’s really just cowboys singing it.

No Jonas Brothers?

Not familiar with the Jonas Brothers, but if they had a good song that I was aware of, I don't know if I'd be opposed to it.

How do you decide what you’re going to play every night?

I don’t decide in advance ever – How do I decide at that moment? It’s an instantaneous thought process that I can’t really explain. Since the age of 10, it has to do with whose in front of you and what you think they’re going to do and what you think they’re going to best react to. It’s more instinctual than strategic.

How did you turn into the person that is DJ Cassidy today?

By starting at age 10, for my 10th Birthday, I asked for DJ equipment. Similar to when one would ask their parents for a drumset, or a hockey stick, I asked for turntables. I was never into sports or playing music as a kid. I wanted DJ tables and I got them. From there I DJed every chance I had through high school, and by the time I went to college I was managing school and a career, and one thing led to another and it was a snowball effect.

Is it hard having a serious relationship in your industry and with your profession?

I’ve never not done what I’ve done so I’ve had never had experiences outside the industry. Through my friends and what I've heard I think its hard having a relationship no matter what you do, relationships are just hard. If I had to guess Id say the answer is no, because for every night that I'm working and can't spend time, there are days that most normal people are working and I can. I create my own schedule so I have the power to go on sexy vacations to the Caribbean. But I can't speak from experience - I've been a DJ for every girlfriend I've ever had.

You know we just have to ask – tell us about DJing at the Inauguration for Obama.

Greatest night of my career if not the greatest night of my life. Unbelievable feeling that I’m sure I share with every other artist that weekend including Beyonce, Mary J Blige, Garth Brooks, a truly surreal feeling I never thought I would have in the context of my career. It was just a breathtaking emotional feeling. I must have cried ten times the entire weekend. I cried that night while I was on stage playing. It was just a truly amazing feeling to know my heart and my craft and my passion in life kinda came to a point celebrating a monumental point in our lives. The most significant leader in my time and I don't know if there will be another and what he's changed even before he was in office was unthinkable and just to be a part of it was amazing. And I filmed it! And you can search it on YouTube and watch it! [Picture via Real Music People]

Wow, it sounds amazing.

But possibly more amazing than that was a night a month later around 3 in the morning when I opened up my mailbox and got a letter and saw that the return address was the white house and just couldn’t believe it, and opened the envelope and there was a square white house thank you letter in it. And in blue sharpie it said: "DJ Cassidy, Thank you for the great job at the inauguration, I am grateful, Barack."

That's incredible.

And I quickly Googled his handwriting to see if it was his handwriting and it was. And if that night wasn’t the greatest feeling in the world, certainly the night I got that letter was. And I'm looking at it framed right now on my wall.

Well, now all the rest of my questions are going to seem pretty boring after that one...

Ha, ha. I thought Michael was the only person I wanted to DJ for, but it will pale in comparison, but Michael's the only one left. I was flying to London to see two shows until they cancelled the whole tour.

Also extremely notable, was DJing at the top secret, super private wedding of Beyonce and JayZ. Can you tell us anything about that?

Nope.

Nothing?

[Silence]

Okay, Okay. You’ve DJed all over the world – including for Oprah in South Africa in 2007 – with this in mind, what is your favorite venue? And place you’ve DJed?

Not a favorite venue but there have been favorite parties – weekly parties. Two answers. Tokyo – many places in Tokyo, I look forward to going back every time I leave. The appreciation for music and for hiphop specifically in Japan is so great and it really makes playing there a very unique and special experience not to say that every city in the world doesn’t appreciate music but the value and respect that club goers there put towards music is very apparent and just makes it so fun. But my greatest club memory is Sundays at Halo on 49 Grove street off of Bleecker that no longer exists every Sunday there for 2 years my first 2 years of college at NYU and its really where I kinda developed my skills and developed my name and my following and a lot of my celebrity and fan base came from the Sunday night party at Halo and Puffy rapped about it: 'Sunday we layin' low at Halo, sippin' Cris and we straight.' I remember when he said that I couldn’t believe it. I was so excited the little kid in me came out. To talk about the party I had started with, it was so amazing! To this day, that was my favorite weekly club night I have ever done and I have a sentimental nostalgia and it was great, it was just a time in New York. That was great.

Not too long ago, you were seen at Webster Hall – that's different than your usual venues. Can you tell us how you ended up there?

Well I don’t necessarily have a ‘typical’ venue or crowd. I pride myself on being able to DJ for anyone, anywhere and I really think that’s a great skill of mine, so I don’t think that’s accurate. I ended up there because, a good friend of mine, Steve Lewis-

From Blackbook?

Yep, the same one. Steve Lewis, over at Webster Hall wanted me over there and it was really great. And I like working in a big venue with a big sound system, and it was a really great... how would I describe? A smorgasboard of people. A real melting pot.

I know your father was in the music industry – Just in a different way. What was his influence like on you?

He and my mother were both – what’s the word? – they would really let me be who I was and really let me listen to anything I want, do whatever I wannna do, any album I wanted to buy, took me to concerts when I was ten years old. When I was 10 they took me to Naughty By Nature at the Apollo, and they were my favorite. They'd let me blast the music and let me develop into the person I am, and that’s something I will always be grateful for. I saw the opposite in a lot of my friends parents, a lot of parents wouldn’t let their kids listen to hiphop. My dad also influenced my taste in music. He would always be playing Bob Marley, and Fly in the Family Stone, and these are people who I didn’t really know to appreciate as a ten year old but as a I grew up and become a DJ and investigated other forms of music I did. They both had a big impact in my artistic form of freedom. I think that’s what I was looking to say before.

You're such a successful DJ –Instead of just leaving it at that, what drew you to producing as well?

The production company is called Cassidy Dubbs and the first artist, his name is Oneil Mcknight, he was a celebrity stylist, one of his clients was working for Puffy. I had done all [Puffy's] parties since I was 18. So I knew O'Neil through Puff. One night I came back and made some tracks, and O'Neil was playing tracks on my laptop, and he started to sing. I was like, 'What are you singing?" And he was like "I don’t know, I just made it up", and an hour later Check Your Coat was written and it was the hottest song in New York in all the clubs…And the rest is history. We just finished his album which will be out later this year, [called] Prom King, you can find [out about it] on his blog or my blog, as soon as he comes out, I'll move move onto the next artist but right now its all about him.

Where does the money lie for you, in DJing or producing? And where does your passion lie more?

My passion is in the music and music can bring you into so many fields so wouldn’t say my passion is one over the other. DJing is obviously the first thing I've ever done with music so it's always going to be my first love. If you take a pad and a pen in one minute you can make a list of 50 ways to make a living from music, and DJing just grew into producing. This is just a second step of many that will exist.

Sounds like you need a vacation. Where would you go if you could?

Oh man, I could really use a vacation. I haven't taken one in a long time. I only really take vacations with girlfriends.

Never friends?

Well, I can't really take a vacation with a female friend, because by the end it's not going to end up platonic.

Ha, ha!

I'm such a workaholic I go on so few. So where would I go if I were going on one in say August? I love the Caribbean because you save travel time and there are millions of islands and I'm sure there are millions more. The Riviera is nice, French or Italian, but with the scene there, I'd probably end up working. I'd have to find a place I wouldn't be working.

Nebraska?

Ha, ha yeah! But I'd probably end up in the Maldives or something.

Do you come out to the Hamptons a lot?

Only when I work.

Do you have a favorite spot out here? Restaurant? I do have a favorite restaurant. I'm going to sound like an idiot. I can't remember the name. They have clams, lobster rolls... Is it called the Lobster Roll? Is there a place called that?

Yeah, there is.

I hate when people do that, when they can't remember the name of the place that's supposed to be their 'favorite.'

Ha, ha, it's okay, if you haven't been there more than ten times, I think it's fine.

I'm all about my lobster and crab in the summer. I actually had lobster salad on a bagel today.

On your blog you write about fashion- that’s my big focus for GofG. What have you been getting into lately in the fashion world? What do you enjoying wearing?

That's a broad question!

Ok, let's make it easier, where do you like to shop?

Ok first, there's Jykos – J is a designer and a name of a store and the only one that exists is on Park Avenue. There are suits and sweaters to ties to bowties to ascots to pajamas to fedoras to outerwear. It’s a true man's classic haberdashery. J is a friend of mine and has classic mens clothing and what he does to it to make it fun and unique and it still retains its class and quality. I also go to Paul Stewart a lot, in Manhattan, Chicago and Tokyo. I've never been to the Tokyo one. I make a lot of my suits there as well. I love the fit of the Phineas Cole line. It's a relatively new line of Paul Stewart. Kind of the best line they’ve ever had, really fits my body well. If you need a cufflink go to Paul Stewart, if you need luggage go to Paul Stewart, anything. And I also shop at Uniqlo, all my jeans are from Uniqlo. Although I don't wear jeans that often. Uniqlo is an amazing store. People call it the Japanese version of American apparel but I like it way better. It’s the store I always wanted to create myself. Cheap but good quality. I just bought some orange jeans there yesterday. In fact I might wear them tonight. $29.99 on sale. Go buy 'em.

Ha,ha.

Oh, and I have to tell you where I get all my fedoras! JJ Hats on 32nd and 5th. They're the best.

How often do you wear fedoras?

The majority of nights I leave my house.

What’s your next stop for your music and your career? Do you have next big gig lined up?

I'm really bad at this question, and they ask it at every interview.

I know, I'm not very original, am I?

No, no it's because I always get the schedule wrong. How about - every job is unique and fun in it's own way - that's my boring answer for that. Oh wait! Actually I'm going to Hong Kong this summer. I'm very excited for that. So there's my answer.

Were you at AXE Lounge on Saturday? Can you add yourself to the ranks of Hollywood royalty, history makers like Obama, and your average scenesters from Webster Hall who've all seen DJ Cassidy in action? Looks like AXE Lounge at Dune had quite the busy weekend - Lindsay Lohan and her entourage on Friday and DJ Cassidy on Saturday. The name change (and cougar cologne sponsorship) must really be working for them. It doesn't look like the summer is going to start slowing down for them anytime soon either. Check out below who else will be there in the next few weeks if you're so musically inclined. You know we will.

AXE Lounge at Dune DJ Line-Up:

June 19th: Phresh June 20th: Steve Aoki

June 26: Phresh June 27th: Mel Debarge

July 2nd: DJ vice ; July 3rd: Berrie July 4th: DJ MOS or Jesse Marco

July 10th: DJ Rukus July 11th: Ronnie Syklie

July 17th: Phresh July 18th: Jesse Marco

July 24th: Phresh July 25th: Jesse Marco

For more info on DJ Cassidy, you can check out his website at www.djcassidy.com