Fete Finder Feature: DJ Ghost
We’re happy to introduce our Fete Finder family to this month’s Fete Finder Feature. Many of our “feterans” in the DMV area (Washington DC, Maryland & Virginia) are familiar with this gentleman, but now others are asking… who is DJ Ghost? Well, find out below…
Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, DJ Ghost grew up in and around the carnival culture. With family members who were wire benders, designers, and mas makers his love for the culture and soca music flourished. After migrating to the United States he became a member of the Sprang Int’l DJ family in the Washington, D.C. area, and is now Managing Partner of Sound Bang Entertainment.
Over the years, DJ Ghost has worked alongside some well-known faces in the entertainment business (Alison Hinds, David Rudder, Stephen Marley, Bun-B, Dr. Hyde, Destra, Mr. Vegas, Coco-T, Teddyson John, Tara Lynn). DJ Ghost is an official Teamsoca.com DJ, keeping music in the ear of listeners locally and abroad. He is also a decorated veteran of the United States Marine Corps.
Where in Trinidad are you from?
I was born and raised in Trinidad in a small village called Carenage on the Western side of the country. I moved to the United States in August 2000, a year after I finished high school.
When did you notice your first spark of interest in becoming a DJ?
When I was 12, that’s when I initially became interested…but I started DJing when I was eight.
Eight years old?!!! How did this happen?
I grew up in a very artistic family. I have aunts that were artists, great-uncles that were sculptors, mas makers. Our yard became a mas camp around carnival time. And my uncle was a DJ, still is. He has his room with all his equipment and I was fascinated by what they used to do. When carnival time came around, they were producing stuff for the road and that’s how I got into it. I used to go and just play around with his stuff. I ended up breaking a couple of needles back then. Of course, that upset him because needles were very expensive for turntables. I grew up around the time where we were carrying record crates and turntables.
My uncle saw my interest and he guided me, taught me how to mix and blend. And that’s how I learned music. He had a very large library of records – calypso, disco, funk, reggae, dancehall, but I took to soca because I was heavily into carnival. My uncle was a mas maker, I played mas when I was a kid. What you see today isn’t mas. But yes my uncle sculpted me, he taught me music, taught me how to play.
When I was 12 he put me “out on the scene.” In Carenage we have a day called St. Peter’s Day in the Catholic Church. This is where the Priest goes out and blesses the fishermen and the water. Then they have a big bazaar where they actually shut down the main road and have parties and stuff. And my uncle set me up in the churchyard to DJ when I was 12. People were surprised by the way I was playing and at how young I was. After that experience, I just kept going with it. From the age of 12 to 15, I worked the evening shift starting at 5PM with my uncle. My uncle would encourage it but my grandmother wasn’t happy with that. My grandmother found out one time and locked the window and I had to sleep on the porch.
What was your first solo gig?
There was a bar down on the corner at Frisco Junction, the place was owned by a fellow named Prince in Carenage, my uncle used to play there, and he would send me out to start the party. I’d be playing early on in the evening, on a Friday night. People at first thought it was the radio playing, they didn’t realize it was me.
So that’s how you got started, but where did the name DJ Ghost come from?
In the early 2000’s DJ Majestic and I had a little crew (DJ Hazzard came along a little later) called New Generation, and I was in a club in downtown Silver Spring, Maryland called Caribbean Styles. DJ Sprang International helped us start there, and when he left us to take over, the music would be playing. I’d be mixing a song, I’d jump out while the song was playing, and I’d be in the crowd dancing, wildin’ out. And people would ask, “who’s DJing, a ghost?” So that’s how the name came about. Just that quick I’d be back up mixing the next song. I was really known for my speed and how quickly I could mix. Back then it was using CDs, which is a lot harder than Serato that folks use today.
Out of all of the forms/types of equipment and tools available, which would you say is your favorite to use?
I prefer vinyl at this point, because it takes me back to my basics, back to where I started. That’s how I learned. However, DJing now using Serato is a lot more fun for me, because it brings back a lot of the skills I had before. But vinyl is my favorite. I’d pick that over CDJs or a controller.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a DJ and what tips or advice would you give to someone who’s interested in becoming a DJ?
Being a DJ is not easy. There’s a science to it. How we do what we do. There are many different levels to it, and I don’t mean beginner, intermediate, or expert. It’s do you want to be a scratch DJ, do you want to be a dancehall/dubplate DJ, do you want to be a mix show DJ? There are many different levels, and each level needs a different type of skill. It just depends on what level you want to me on. It’s not easy.
Being a DJ also isn’t cheap, it’s expensive. Just the equipment is expensive, especially professional level equipment…and we’re not even talking wiring and stuff like that yet. Turntables, mixers, all of that costs.
As far as pointers, learn your music before you even touch any turntables. Play music, just like you play music in your car. You need to know what mixes with what. You need to know the artist, the song, the beat, the year. I shouldn’t go to an old school party and hear new soca playing. Know your genres, know the decades they were played. Know your crowd, watch your crowd. Don’t play for yourself, you have to look at your crowd, you have to feel that vibe. Know your equipment, know how to manipulate your instruments. You have to make it do what you want to do. Practice, practice, practice. Practice like you’re playing a party. No mistakes, clean blends, cuts, and transitions. If you’re a mic DJ, mic and DJ at the same time as you practice.
Soca artists have new songs dropping every day; how often would you say you listen to music a day?
When it comes to new soca I don’t listen to it. I only listen when it pops up in my inbox. I only play it when I do my radio show on Team Soca. I haven’t listened to my library yet. There are over 600 songs in my library and I know there’s more out there. But I can listen to a song and know my cuts and how I’m going to blend and transition.
When I do listen to music, which is primarily when I’m in my car, I don’t listen to soca or dancehall. I listen to old school rock or the old people’s station, Russ Parr in the morning 70s music, 80s music.
So if you’re not listening to soca or dancehall regularly, how do you prepare for an upcoming gig?
Musically I don’t. I ask my clients what type of party the event is, the age range, demographic of the crowd, and I can tell what kind of set they’d like. I don’t make a playlist for a party. I watch the crowd and feed off their energy.
Top three songs you enjoy playing as a DJ, any genre.
Broken Wing, Kiss from a Rose, a little bit of Sade.
Three soca songs you love.
I like Savannah Grass, Horner man by Shadow, Pigtail Riddim from back in the 90s, and I’d throw in the Dougla riddim.
Your ideal DJ lineup.
One of my favorite DJs is Scratchmaster from Barbados, my uncle – goes by the name of Two Black Guys out of Carenage, Sprang International and Willy Chin.
But now you’re not only a DJ you’re also an event promoter. What is the hardest part about being a promoter?
As with DJing, there’s a science to this…with marketing, finding venues, working out deals. With my temperament I’ve had to cool down over the years. The entertainment business is a control business so it’s definitely hard. You have to put your money upfront regardless of how successful your event is. And the way I want to do things it’s a challenge for me.
If money weren’t an option, what would be your dream venue for an event?
I’d create my own venue. One of my dreams is to own a club/bar one day, perfect sound system, perfect DJ equipment. My dream venue would have a good space, good sound, and a lot of parking LOL.
Follow DJ Ghost on Instagram to stay up-to-date on his upcoming events.