Interview With DJ Berrie: More Than Just A Trust Fund Kid

by THERESA WON · April 23, 2009

    Spinning at some of the hottest spots around the globe, DJ Berrie has already been hailed as "the sound of Tenjune" by nightlife guru Eugene Remm, and dubbed "one of America's premier party-rockers" by Vanity Fair, all at the tender age of 22.  He honed his skills early on by spinning at high school parties, and later on by listening to recorded sets from DJ AM and Jazzy Jeff.  Although his father amassed a fortune from marketing the 80s Troll doll, DJ Berrie has become a success in his own right.  His sound, best described as a mix between house, hip-hop, soul, rock and funk, blares at many exclusive events for high-end clients like Veuve Clicquot and GQ where you'll find him amping up the crowd from his turntables sans headphones.  In a recent interview with us, DJ Berrie grants us a closer peek at what he's been up to...

    Growing up in NJ, you must have snuck into the city quite a bit- what places, people, sounds, shaped your love of music? I came into the city all the time to hear DJs play. I’d go to Exit, Sound Factory, and Limelight. I had to have been the youngest person there. When I was out, I didn’t pay attention to girls or anything. I’d just listen to the music and see what made people dance. When I was in the city, I’d always buy mixtapes on Canal Street. Listening to the mixtapes had as great an influence on my deejaying as going to the clubs.

    You DJ at the hottest places throughout the country and even the world-is there a difference in crowds and energy in each city? Do you tailor your sets a little differently? I really do notice a big difference in the crowds and the musical tastes in different cities. Even in New York, though, I play for a dramatic range of people with a breadth of tastes. The music I play at Beatrice Inn is very different than what I’d play at Tenjune and the music I play Tenjune is very different than what I’d play at a corporate event. I think a DJ has to tailor music selections every time he or she plays – not just when traveling.

    What new artists are you excited about? It’s tough to name just a few. I’m always disappointed when people say that there’s no good new music. I’ve been listening to La Roux, O’Neal McKnight, Kat DeLuna, and Boys Noize a lot. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs aren’t new artists, but their new album is my favorite record of 2009.

    What trends have you noticed in nightlife? House and electro music are far more present in mainstream clubs than they were even two years ago. I grew up listening to house music so I love that trend. In New York, there’s a move towards smaller and more intimate clubs. I think it’s great for the club-goer, but with a couple of exceptions, I have more fun playing in a big club.

    Okay, spill it, what songs do people request that you will NOT play? Haha. I don’t think there are songs that I refuse to play, but I will admit that DJs don’t listen too much to the requests. I know that everyone in the club has a favorite song or a favorite band, but my goal isn’t to play each person’s favorite song. It’s to play the music that will make the whole place dance.

    A lot of DJ’s make the move to producing, is this something that is in your future? I began producing house and electro records a few months ago. Production, particularly in those genres, is certainly the next phase of my career. I’m deeply passionate about it. I can spend twelve or fourteen hours at a time in the studio and it feels like five minutes. It’s been thrilling to hear other DJs play music that I’ve created.