A household name in the island paradise of Guam, DJ OZ, The Darkness, is a veteran DJ who's DJed for over 25 years. We sit with him to talk about his experience as a DJ and how he feels the scene in his home can grow.
ADM: How did you get your start as a DJ?
OZ: Like I was saying earlier I ran away from home because I wanted to learn how to DJ. A DJ I knew always had his stuff set up at his house so I would just I would stay at his house. Every weekend he would have his turntable setup and I go over there and I started messing with them. I'll just try my hardest to figure out how is it that this guy can make the beat play on top of the other beat without messing it up. I'll be there for hours and hours and hours and the first two songs ever put together was regulators and come baby come from K7. It was around 97 or 96. With all the help he was giving me of course I was cleaning his house, that was my way of paying him back and that's where it all started from.
The first gig I ever played was a surprise to me because I didn't know I was actually playing at that gig went to the party to play some dinner music. They left me there and said they'd come back but never did. So I had to teach myself what songs to play, where to play it and of course the night went out without a hitch but at the same time it was the most scariest night of my life because I didn't know if anybody was coming back at all. I just knew what I wanted to do was DJ and at that time I just learnt how to play. My mixing was far from perfect yet I just knew that I had to play songs. After that whatever came my way I did it and I picked up what I think it was a Pioneer turntable that was second hand. It was totally whack because it was super old and I bought it for like 50 bucks from this one DJ.
It was the worst turntables ever but I love those turntables for as long as I had them. I even made my own first mixtape from them. Eventually I just progressed and I ended up quitting for about 2 years. I stopped Djing for two years because I got into this relationship that was real toxic but as soon as I got out of that I went back to the same person who taught me how to DJ. He was already DJing in the clubs and already knew what was big in the parties and clubs so he helped me get back into the whole thing. He asked me if I could play the songs and I mean I knew them, I just had to try mixing them. It started from a club that isn't around anymore called Temple and it was just show after show after show and I just kept going and here I am now
ADM: As one of the most respected DJs on Guam and a household name due to your radio show, what do you think about opportunities for DJs on Guam?
OZ: As far as opportunities go, they are out there but there isn't that many. Some of the DJs, they just wanna get into the clubs and parties but they're going about it all wrong. They're not willing to start from the bottom and pay their dues. I mean, even I started from the bottom. They just come in and go I'm DJ so and so and I can do this and I've been practicing in my room for a while.
I tell them that it takes way more than that, you've got to be recognised, you've got to be able to bring something to the table in order to make sure that the person who's paying you is happy and satisfied. If you're stuck in a bedroom you don't know if the stuff you're playing is going to work out in the club.
There could be better opportunities and a more structured way to get to more shows. There's a lot of talented DJs on Guam, I've met a lot of DJs who've moved off island and became awesome DJs. From Turntablist to even just Wedding DJs who make $1000 a night. Some even become Radio or Club DJs and make it big in the States and they're all from Guam. The only thing I feel is that there isn't a program or a way for DJs who are on island who already know their stuff to learn and to teach younger people who want to learn so we can push more than what we have.
There are DJs who come to Guam from outside and they see the way we DJ and their impressed with what we do. Many of them say that the DJs here would definitely make it out there. We just need better opportunities when it comes to DJing here.
It's the same with bands, they come together make money and then they tour. With DJs it's harder to do that because there isn't a market for them to make enough money so they can fly out to Vegas or something to try their luck there.
Again we need those opportunities here, we don't have them yet but I would love to see them in the future.
ADM: With that being said, Guam is essentially in Asia. What would you think about positioning Guam as part of the Asian market instead of just looking towards the USA for opportunities?
OZ: For me, I've always looked towards Asia for opportunities. Countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong especially, I'd love to play there. I hear so many stories of what's going on in Asia and we're so close to Asia, we're just a few hours away from all these places.
I'm pretty sure if we had the opportunities, I'd definitely jump on them straight away. Especially out there, I mean like why not? Why do we just want to stay here? I mean it's great here and we built our craft here, but in order to make yourself a better DJ or make a career you have to expand yourself, you can't just stay in one place.
I've lived in Guam my whole life, 42 years now, I've been DJing for 25 years. I've DJed on Guam all my life but, I've also played out in Japan and the Philippines, and the CNMI. I loved all the shows I've played off island but there's got to be more room for that. There's got to be more opportunities out there, especially for someone like myself.
We all want to make a little more than what we're getting here, but at the same time I like DJing, I like playing and watching a crowd go crazy when I drop a song. That's what really gets me and if I can do that here and then bring it out to any part of Asia, that would be amazing for me or anybody else.
I mean I see younger DJs than me do gigs in Palau and the Philippines, Japan and I feel so happy for them. It makes me feel that we're really getting out there and all we need to do is push harder together so we have a crew out there to represent our Island. Like these are our top DJs from Guam all playing together in this city tonight. That would be amazing and I think it's something we need. There's a lot of talent on the island and we jus don't have the opportunities just yet.
ADM: What would you like to say to young DJs on Guam?
OZ: If you want to be a DJ, then by all means do you. Study, learn, read, watch YouTube, and if you get a chance to get yourself a controller and a laptop go do that. If you can get yourself a turntable and some records then good for you! Go and learn with your ears and not your eyes when it comes to DJing.