A longstanding Georgetown favorite on the music scene, DJ Matt Winter is quickly becoming one of the most popular DJs in DC. What started a few years back as a hobby at friends' parties on Georgetown's campus has since expanded far beyond the Healy Gates.
Matt started spinning at campus parties a couple of years ago, but today he djs all over the East Coast. He single-handedly revitalized Modern Lounge by transforming it into a Thursday night hotspot for Georgetown students. Lately he's been bringing the house down at the best-known clubs in town - he was the one responsible for Shadow Room's biggest night in four years and played Josephine in association with Glow events this past Friday - and he's not planning on stopping there. GofG: How did you first get started djing?
Matt Winter: I actually started when I was 12. I made my mom buy turntables for me and I bought two records, Jay-Z and P. Diddy. I would sit in my room and play the same two records back and fourth. That's where it started. I've always been into music. Then sophomore year I started djing Henle [a student apartment complex on Georgetown's campus] parties. I kept upgrading to new equipment and I kept watching youtube videos, learning more.
GofG: Where have you djed before?
MW: A bunch of clubs in New York and a lot of private parties. I've djed in Boston, Nantucket, New York, DC, and I was going to do Yacht Week this past vacation but now I'm actually going to do Ibiza and Croatia this summer.
GofG: Wow that's fantastic. So what's your favorite venue you ever played?
GofG: Who have you met?
MW: All the big ones. Actually one of my friend's was there for Tiesto's birthday and she got invited to his dinner party. She was sitting at the table and Tiesto sat down next to her and the two owners of Lavo mentioned my name, which is pretty cool.I'm also working on this thing called House 247 with the doorman at Lavo. It's his clothing company and I'm a brand ambassador. He gets celebrities to promote for it. The other DJ's who wear it are DJ Chuckie and Bob Sinclair, all the big names. When I djed, he saw that I brought all my friends and asked me to do it, which was pretty cool.
GofG: What is the best part about djing for you?
MW: I'd have to say that part of the night when the party's just getting started. Then you look up and it's just insane. That one song plays and everyone goes nuts, like Levels before it went big. Or when I play earlier in the night and I can start out slow and build up, then around 12:30 I pick a good song and it can just explode for the night.
GofG: What do your family and friends think about all of this?
MW: My friends are very supportive. They've always come to every party I've thrown or wherever I am. My parents actually came to Lavo back in January. I've always told them wherever I'm djing. They never really understood it and then they came and they were shocked. I tried to tell them what type of place it was. I remember halfway through the night I looked down and my parents were on the dance floor and they were just loving it. My mom keeps asking when I'm going to play again in New York.
MW: I want to get back to Lavo for a Saturday night but now all these DC parties - Josephine and Shadow Room - keep asking me to play.
GofG: When did that start?
MW: Shadow Room started last fall. Someone just asked me to play one night. Then they came to Modern and saw me. There are a few guys who own these promotion companies. I can't keep them straight - they all keep asking me for the same venues on different nights. It's pretty confusing!
GofG: You basically transformed Modern - how did that happen?
MW: Dave [the manager] from Rhino asked me because he also manages Modern. After it was so successful the first time we did it, they asked me to come back again. It's fun to go to a different place. It's awesome to see that everyone's so into it.
GofG: How do you feel about the growing mainstream appreciation for house music?
MW: People think it's going to level off, but I don't think its going to level off. Avicii could play in New York City and sell out every show every night for the entire year. Sensation White is coming here, its gonna sell out. Ultra is getting even bigger. The DJs aren't competing - they're working with each other. They're coming together, helping each other.
GofG: If you could collaborate with one DJ, who would it be?
MW: I'd say Afrojack. I think he's my favorite DJ. He's produced hip-hop songs and you wouldn't even realize it's him because he doesn't put his name on it. And he's only 24 and he travels all the time, djing and partying every night.
GofG: Is that what you see yourself doing after school?
MW: I'm going to keep djing. I don't know if I want to take it to the next level and travel around the world 300 days a year. I'm just going to see where it goes from her. This next year I'm going to keep doing it and maybe get a job. I don't want to be a 35 djing unless it's for a crowd of 50,000 people, you know, like Avicii.
GofG: You do a lot of your own mixing, but have you ever thought about producing your own?
MW: I've made a couple of bootlegs but nothing original. I'm going to start making some original tracks. [Fellow Georgetown student] Chip Altieri is amazing at the piano and guitar, so he'll do the piano side and then we can put it on my equipment and do the effects and vocals. It takes a ton of time but we're going to try. That's naturally the direction. But there's a guy who's 40 who djs at Lavo with me sometimes and he works at McKinsey during the day. That's the direction I want to go, unless something big happens. It's really all about making that one original track.
GofG: Other than celebrity DJs, who are some of the coolest people you've met?
MW: I'd say the light guy at Lavo. He's awesome. The first time I played at Lavo I forgot the disks for my turntables and he pulled out an extra pair. He's always prepared and just a really cool guy.
GofG: You're in the business school at Georgetown now, so what kind of day job are you looking for?
MW: Maybe something at a bank. I don't really want to wake up at 5am since that's when I usually go to bed. But probably investment banking. The problem is there aren't enough hours in the day. I'd really like to work for myself, so I might want to start my own company someday. Maybe I'll invent something.
GofG: We love your entrepreneurial attitude. So, any advice for aspiring DJs?
MW: Yeah. It's all about the correct track you play, not the way you mix them. Whether it's a 60s song, a rap song a techno song, always play the correct track. Always read the crowd. You can tell if they're enjoying it.
And we can tell you from experience that Matt Winter's crowds are definitely enjoying it. We can't wait to see what the future holds!