Published: Friday, January 17, 2014
Updated: Friday, January 17, 2014 01:01
While some collegiate musicians have been honing their skills since childhood, DJ Evan Floyd (MSB ’14) discovered his passion later in life.
“I played saxophone for seven years when I was younger, but I quit once I got to high school because being in the band wasn’t necessarily the coolest thing ever,” Floyd said. “When I got to Georgetown, my freshman year roommate introduced me to electronic music, and I fell in love with it. I downloaded some software, started messing around and it took off from there.”
This initial tinkering in his freshman dorm soon became Floyd’s true passion, and his dedication to finding and producing new sounds helped lead to his first break — performing every Wednesday at last year’s Senior Nights at The Tombs.
“My roommate at the time was a bouncer there, and they needed a DJ, and he knew I had been practicing so they gave me that first opportunity,” Floyd said. “I was there for one semester, and they ended up firing me because they said my music didn’t fit the vibe they were going for.”
Luckily for Floyd, he was hired that same day by Rhino Bar & Pumphouse, and soon after he was added to the weekly roster at Modern, performing every Thursday night.
“Modern had only been kind of a thing the previous semester, but … it really took off and kids just started coming out. That’s when it really took off for me...having Modern become a real staple in Georgetown and have it be the true Thursday night spot week in and week out. It really wasn’t a question where kids were going. They were coming to Modern.” Floyd said.
Word of Floyd’s Thursday night popularity spread through the D.C. club owner scene and he soon started doing freelance shows at nightclubs throughout the District. Recently, he left Modern to take up residence at rising hotspot Malmaison.
Floyd has been able to channel his passion for electronic music production into markets far beyond Modern and M Street. Last summer, a friend referred him to an employer based in Shanghai, China, where Floyd, an international business and marketing double major, spent three months interning for an entertainment production company and trying out his beats on eager international audiences.
“It was one of the best three months of my life because during the day I was planning these big concerts and music festivals and at night I would be able to go to DJ,” Floyd said.
“I started out at a place called the Shanghai Rose — it’s a new club on the Bund, which is the main strip in Shanghai — and then branched out and DJed a lot of underground clubs. My number one goal was to DJ a huge pool party there for the summer, and actually, the last Saturday I was out there, it happened. I DJed a three-level pool, filled with people from top to bottom and it was amazing,” said Floyd.
Returning to the United States after the experience, however, has had its drawbacks.
“It’s more fun to DJ abroad because in the U.S. people want to know the words to every single song they hear, whereas in China and abroad they don’t speak the language so there was no word association. As long as the song is musically pleasing, people are going to dance,” Floyd said.
For music fans who have never listened to electronic music before, or who know more traditional paths to music production, Floyd’s creative process may seem space-age.
“When you’re a part of a band you have one person who comes up with the basic idea and everyone feeds off each other to make music,” Floyd said. “When you’re producing electronic music, it’s a completely different concept. You essentially have to know how to synthesize sounds from nothing — making your own drum sounds, making your own horns, guitar strums. It’s not so much knowing one instrument but knowing how to make the sounds of all of them.”
“You really have to know how everything is supposed to fit together and understand the groove you’re going for,” Floyd said. “I feel like that’s where a lot of producers slip up, just getting lost and overcomplicated and just trying to do way too much. Keeping it simple is the best way to go.”