Francisco’s DJ GRIND is POPular
DJ Grind (Stephen Massey) is one of the country’s most sought-after up-and-coming DJs. Last year, he burst onto the scene as the winner of the 2011 GayDays National DJ Contest, distinguishing himself from more than 200 of the country’s top DJs competing for the highly coveted prize. Since that time, he’s booked some of the biggest gigs in the country, including White Party Palm Springs, GayDays, Winter Music Conference, SPLASH (New York), The Paramount (Provincetown), COBALT (Washington, D.C.), Eleven Lounge (West Hollywood), and Ruby Skye (San Francisco), among others. He’s also been a featured artist on RSVP Vacations Caribbean and Mediterranean cruises, and he supported Kylie Minogue’s 2011 Aphrodite World Tour as an opening act.
We recently caught up with DJ GRIND to talk about music, life on the road, and his meteoric rise to the top tier of the DJ circuit.
You are on quite a roll, and people across the country seem to be falling in love with DJ GRIND. What’s your secret?
I moved to San Francisco in 2005, and it was love at first sight. I’ve been an active member of the local LGBT community since the moment I crossed the Golden Gate, and I’ve met some amazing people and made close friendships with individuals who also happen to own bars, promote clubs, operate LGBT businesses, and some other really talented DJs. I can confidently say that I owe 100 percent of my success to my incredible community of friends and supporters in San Francisco who believed in me and encouraged me to follow my passion.
I understand you started as a music blogger? How did you transition to DJ?
I’ve always been a big music fan, inspired by joyful, hands-in-air dance anthems and bouncy pop beats. In 2007, I started a music blog for my friends called “The Daily Grind” that featured a song of the day and highlighted up-and-coming artists. My blog following grew and eventually led me to try my hand at the decks. In October 2010, I DJ’d live for the first time and created my very first podcast. “The Daily Grind” became DJ GRIND, and it’s been a wild ride ever since.
You’ve just released your first commercial CD with Centaur Music. Give us a preview.
I feel so honored to be invited to join the Centaur Music family, which includes some of my role models and very favorite DJs, including Randy Bettis, Wayne G, Corey Craig, and Roland Belmares. Anyone who has heard my live sets or downloaded my monthly podcast knows that I’m an unapologetic fan of pop music, so it was a total blast to remix Centaur’s latest compilation project, POPular Volume 7. This energetic, 75-minute mix includes 15 of my favorite pop tracks from the past year and captures a really unique moment in pop music history, when dance music reigns supreme on radio and dance floors alike.
What’s it like traveling around the country as a DJ? Any favorite moments?
Sharing my passion for music with others is such a gift, and it’s so cool to meet people who find joy in my live sets and podcasts. Of course, there’s nothing quite like playing the big parties and venues, and White Party Palm Springs, GayDays and RSVP Cruises stand out as highlights. But I also really enjoy smaller cities and events. The boys in Minneapolis and Salt Lake City know how to party!
I also love all the emails I get from people, literally around the world, who download my free monthly podcasts on iTunes (http://itunes.djgrind.net). I’m completely humbled by the emails I get from subscribers in China, Afghanistan, Brazil and everywhere in between who have discovered new artists or become fans of dance music by listening to my podcasts. One guy in Pennsylvania emailed to let me know that he’s lost over 65 lbs. working out to my mixes. I love that!
Summer’s almost here. Any big plans?
Summer starts with a bang at GayDays in Orlando. My appearance at last year’s GayDays earned the JustCircuit Award for “Pool Party of the Year,” so I’m especially excited to be back to headline the 2012 GayDays closing event. I’m also thrilled to headline RSVP Vacations’ Mediterranean Cruise from June 29 to July 6. And, I’ll close the summer at The Paramount in Provincetown, where I’m featured on the Labor Day Weekend lineup. In between, I’ll be making stops in San Francisco, Seattle, Vancouver, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C., among others.
Whoa! That’s a lot of frequent flier miles. What’s hot on your summer playlist?
Well, I love this time of year because artists drop all of their biggest, most joyful anthems as the days get warmer. There’s just something about summer that brings a whole different level of energy to music, and anyone who’s ever heard my work knows this is the time of year I live for.
Favorite artist? Favorite remixer?
That’s easy, Kylie, of course. Opening for her tour stop in San Francisco last year was a dream come true. My favorite remixer … this one is tougher because there’s so much terrific, young talent out there right now. Like most dance music aficionados, I’m a huge fan of big name producers like 7th Heaven, Dave Aude, CAHILL, Avicii, and Calvin Harris. But, I’m also really inspired these days by some of the independent talent and bootleg remixers who are bringing new energy and experimenting with new sounds for the dance floor, including Rafael Lelis and Gustavo Scorpio from Brazil, Toy Armada and Brian Cua from the Philippines, Funk3d from the UK, and C-Rok here in the U.S. And then there’s 14-year old music prodigy Erik Arbores from Holland, whose progressive house beats are simply mind-blowing. He’s one to watch, for sure.
Popular Vol. 7 is available now at theoutclub.com, Amazon, iTunes and check your favorite retailer. Follow DJ GRIND on Facebook or at djgrind.net. Subscribe to DJ GRIND’s free monthly podcasts on iTunes at iTunes.djgrind.net, and the monthly podcast is available on Podomatic at djgrind.podomatic.com.