Behind the Beat with Evan Shapiro
The final battle in Campus DJ's nationwide search to find the best college DJ in America was held in Los Angeles last Thursday, June 20 at the historic Avalon Hollywood, presented by MINI USA, Dubbler, Chegg, Jabra, and the Monster Energy Outbreak College Tour.
Flaxo, a rising sophomore at New York City’s Columbia University, took the title and prizes including a 4-door 2013 MINI Cooper S Countryman, a touring package with Live Nation, a branded filter of Flaxo’s original music on the Dubbler app, plus additional prizing from Chegg, Jabra, and Monster Energy.
“While there are other DJ competitions, this is the only one fueled exclusively by college DJs," Campus DJ co-founder Evan Shapiro said. "We're lucky to have great sponsors and prizes to have supported the first-ever national finale for college DJs --- Being able to award a brand new car to the winning college DJ was incredible!”
National finalists included: DJ Courtney (Emory University), DJ Munition (Arizona State University), Flaxo (Columbia University), DJNT (Columbia College), DJ Caraya (Oregon State University), Alexbustamove (UCLA), DJ Crank (Diablo Valley College), Sokko (University of Oregon), Brostradamus (Rutgers University), DJ +One, formerly known as DJ Smoltz (Michigan State University).
The tournament-style battle at the Avalon was full of dramatic moments. Brostradamus, a national Wild Card, advanced twice with his high-energy performances to make it to the final round of three DJs, along with Alexbustamove, who showed strong all-around DJ skills, and the eventual winner Flaxo, who’s originality was his strongest area with the judges in both of his performance rounds. Standout energy from DJ Crank, and a great set from the only female national finalist DJ Courtney, made for memorable moments in the hotly contested competition. Check out some of the event photos here
The event featured a special guest headlining performance from pop music producer The Cataracs, who also attended college at SFSU early in his music career, along with a guest appearance from Columbia Records ‘hip-pop’ star T.Mills.
An all-star judging panel including: Ken Jordan, one half of legendary electronic music duo The Crystal Method, Amanda Cerny of Dirty Dutch, EpicEDM, and Playboy Playmate fame, EDM innovator DJ Reid Speed, and Damon Ranger, Academy Award-winning songwriter (“Life of Pi”) and multiple Emmy Award winner. The event was co-hosted by college-favorite hypeman Flula Borg and DJ/personality Mick (formerly known as Mick Boogie). The DJs were judged on Originality, Energy, and Presence through the lens of overall potential.
What’s more, the DJs were Spinning for a Cause
at the National Finale. Winning DJ Flaxo got to choose to donate ticket proceeds and a generous cash donation from Chegg for Good to one of four non-profit organizations selected by Campus DJ with partners Chegg for Good
, Music for Good
, and Electronic Music Alliance's Play it FWD.
Flaxo chose 826 National
, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving students ages 6 to 18 the opportunity to improve their writing skills and offering free after schooland in-school tutoring programs. He was excited to support 826 National because he attended his local chapter, 826 Valencia, growing up in San Francisco. “826 Valencia opened my world to the whole genre of writing,” comments Flaxo. “It’s really awesome to be able to give back to an organization that I was part of a long time ago!”
and Campus DJ’s Facebook page for info about a mix tape release featuring original and remixed tunes from the finalists, and announcements about the 2013-14 Campus DJ competition. Shapiro added, “We’re already getting great sponsor support for the next season and we’re looking forward to making the tour bigger and better with even broader college DJ, industry and school participation.”
OTB caught up with Evan Shapiro, the founder of Campus DJ, and asked him a few questions about how the Campus DJ contest came together.
What’s your affiliation with the music industry? How did you get into this industry?
I started as an intern at a record label while I was still a college undergrad. I have since worked in the music business for 12 years, and started the National College Battle of the Bands 4 years ago.
No! But I do play guitar and occasionally make mixes and program playlists for friends, but in no way can I call myself a “DJ”.
What’s was your favorite campus that hosted Campus DJ?
We had a handful of great university partners in our first season. But if we had to say just one, University of Oregon probably brought in the most response and interest. Now that the tour is launched, and we have awarded the winning DJ with a brand new car from MINI, I expect a lot more campuses and fans to bring support to Campus DJ in season two.
Which college did you attend?
I went to Emory University in Atlanta, GA
What’s the most outrageous thing that has happened at a competition thus far?
The highlight was easily prizing a brand new car to the winner this past week. I’m not sure if that qualifies as outrageous on any level, but it definitely the most interesting and memorable thing that happened.
What was your inspiration for starting Campus DJ? How long did the idea of Campus DJ take to come to life?
While running the national College Battle of the Bands we were getting an increasing # of DJ submissions, especially last year. It’s not the right format for DJs to compete against live musicians in a battle. So now here we are with a platform for just the DJs!
Was there any challenges or set backs you faced?
Absolutely. Launching a new platform is never easy. We had some production issues in the first month of the Campus DJ tour. Fortunately with some great sponsor and partners we were able to patch it up and pull through and finish a great year strong, and with an incredible Finale event at Avalon Hollywood.
Will this become an annual competition? Possibly web series? T.V. Show?
Yes! And we already have sponsors committing for Season 2013-14 . In terms of a show --- there have been a couple of inquiries from potential broadcast partners now that we are pursuing. We are very interested in all avenues to expand the tour and shine the light on the participating DJs.
Campus DJ has emerged due to the recent boom of EDM in pop culture… Have their been any negative criticisms Campus DJ has endured due to the misconceptions of EDM culture that have been called out in media recently?
Not with the Campus DJ competition itself, but we have seen some schools that are hesitant to bring in bigger EDM acts to campus.
What kind of responses have you received from faculty/staff when you’ve contacted them about hosting a DJ competition on their campus?
Generally the response has been extremely positive. Faculty and students are very excited when they hear about the opportunity and want to be involved. We’ve found that schools are supportive of their student talent and music community, whether it’s to partner with Campus DJ, or for our College Battle of the Bands tour which will be returning this Fall.
Have you’ve ever been turned down?
A couple of times, due to timing, but not for the concept of the event itself.
What’s the one must-have item when traveling to these various campuses?
Swag for the fans
How was your national finale? Any memories you’d care to share?
Incredible. It took a lot of work to get there but the top 10 College DJs in the land facing off for the national title made it all worthwhile. What a good feeling to see so many great college DJs on the big stage at Avalon Hollywood.
Where do you see Campus DJ going in the future?
Expanding quickly with more media coverage and the possible broadcast partnership for a show. There is also the opportunity for back to school college tours, and potentially high school events over time too.
Campus DJ will run annually each Spring Semester, with College Battle of the Bands now running in the Fall Semester. Go to www.CampusDJ.com
for registration, voting, complete rules and prizes.