When Del Mar resident Chris Pittard was in middle school, he had a transformative experience.
“I saw (the DJ) Skrillex, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he remembered. “When I got home, I did some research on the internet about how to be a DJ and ordered a cheap pair of turntables.”
Pittard, a 2014 graduate of Torrey Pines High School, isn’t alone. As electronic dance music continues to explode in popularity, across North County — and the country — more and more young people are inspired by the massive success of EDM acts such as Skrillex, Calvin Harris, or 18-year-old Martin Garrix, and pursuing dreams of striking gold as a superstar DJ.
From Pittard’s humble music beginnings, he soon picked up the typical arsenal for a working DJ, including Logic (the standard software used to produce songs), and a keyboard.
When Pittard isn’t working at the Gym in Del Mar or attending classes at MiraCosta College, he’s honing his craft.
“There are so many kids trying to do this nowadays that it’s super-competitive,” Pittard explained. “My daily routine is get up, go to school, go home, and then the rest of my free time goes to music. I spend on average two hours a day working on songs and remixes.”
Soon, Pittard’s hobby turned into something more. “I started DJing at parties back in middle school,” he said. “At first I thought this was just a hobby for me, but after doing these shows I realized it’s something I wanted to pursue.”
Today Pittard, who goes by the stage name Christoph, DJs private parties and is building up an online following on social networking sites, including SoundCloud, where countless aspiring music professionals post their Mp3s in the hopes they go viral. As a spring admit to USC, Pittard is planning to study business and focus on his burgeoning music career.
“In order to be successful today, you have to be really creative and original,” Pittard said. “You need to develop a super unique sound; that’s essential to success.”
Pittard’s friend, fellow Torrey Pines grad Sam Hardeman, is following the same path. Now attending St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y., Hardeman caught the DJ bug much like Pittard.
“About a year ago I decided I could DJ and make music just like all the big names,” said Hardeman, who now goes by the stage name Sam Aaron. “I got a controller and through YouTube and friends like Chris, I learned the necessary techniques and skills.”
As a result, Hardeman is making a name for himself in the New York club circuit, performing regularly around the Big Apple — including a recent show on Halloween. “It was a huge success,” said Hardeman, who’s slowly but surely building a reputation.
Back in North County, there is no shortage of venues and events for aspiring DJs to strut their stuff. From private functions (like birthdays, anniversaries, and weddings), to San Diego-area clubs (such as Soma in Midway or the downtown venue Somewhere Loud), and even special events (like the recent Hallow II party at the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center).
“This is still a huge industry that’s growing daily,” Hardeman notes. “I’ve seen DJs come out of nowhere and land mainstage gigs within a year. It’s fast-paced and attractive. Who wouldn’t want to DJ for the rest of their lives?”