By Listening to your live sets it gives a great indication of the cross culture/genre variety of music you have, sometimes mixing songs from the 80’s 90’s and modern day within minutes. It’s actually rather remarkable. Every DJ does some sort of preparation for their set. How much time do you dedicate on planning your sets?
I usually spend my entire day planning. I wake up and practice before I get my morning coffee, and spend most of my day downloading music and organizing my library. I don’t like to create sets, I like to DJ off the top of my head when I get to the club and just do it in the moment. Some of the best nights I’ve had when I DJ was when I was playing on impulse and feeding off the energy of the crowd. As a DJ it’s your job to watch the crowd and motivate them to have a good time, and you can’t achieve that with a planned set because you end up sounding like a robot.
If you do plan and one direction isn’t working, do you have a back up plan?
I think that in your mind of course your always paying attention to how people are reacting to the music you’re playing. So if you see if you’re playing hip-hop and people aren’t really grooving to it, then you know you have to switch it up. I wouldn’t really consider that a back up plan, more or less common sense. If your playing one way and it’s not working then you have to play another way.
Do you have any experience in music outside of the DJ world?
I played instruments all my life; I started playing piano at the age of 5 for about 4 years. I also played saxophone for 10 years, I went to band camp for a few years and then became a counselor. I played in Jazz band, and Marching bands you name it. I even marched in the St. Patrick’s day parade.
Did you ever consider producing?
Yes, I started producing about a year ago. I have a production team called “the house of light”. We’ve been building our catalog; we’ve been producing for a year now and managed to work with a couple of local artists. Like I said we’re still in the beginning stages of production although 2011 should be a great year and you’ll be seeing our work soon!
How much time out of the day would you say you dedicate to your craft?
Honestly I dedicate my entire day from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep at night, it all revolves around DJing. I wake up and I practice, have my morning coffee and breakfast and practice some more. From downloading music, working on beats, and speaking to my management throughout the day it all revolves around DJing, to me it’s more of a lifestyle than just a job. It’s my passion and I don’t mind spending the entire day doing it. You should work on your craft everyday in order to be great at it. A lot of DJs don’t do that and it’s unfortunate but you should practice everyday.
Did any particular DJ’s or artists influence you specifically?
First and Foremost Funkmaster Flex, growing up in New York in the 90’s and listening to Hot 97 you would hear Flex DJ on live radio as if he were spinning in a club, you don’t hear that anymore these days. Also Tunnel Sunday nights in NYC were legendary, I was young at the time and really wanted to go. After several times of going and getting denied, a friend of mine told me that you could actually bribe the bouncers to get in. So after spending my whole weekly allowance on getting into the club and going through that whole experience and being a part of it, I could definitely say that influenced me.
Later on I met Mark Ronson while working for Elektra records around 2002, his album at the time was on Elektra and I would go to his parties and promote the album. It gave me a chance to hear him DJ and he had the cool Downtown scene which I really liked because it gave you a chance to play a variety of music as opposed to spinning only hip hop. He was playing anything from AC/DC to the hottest Lil Jon record out at the time, it was cooler and I liked it and it was more of what I wanted to do. That was what really motivated me to become a better all around DJ.
Of all the genres you mix, do you have a favorite?
I like playing classics; I don’t think that music today is just made the same. I don’t think that you can name the top record that was on the radio 3 years ago. I believe that music from back in the day is able to stand the test of time. That’s why I love playing classics, breaks, and 80’s/90’s hip-hop. I love playing the type of music that’s unexpected and when people hear it in the club they go crazy!
Do you have a particular venue or city you prefer to play in? If so, why?
I love New York, I feel that the crowd in New York is a lot more music savvy than other places. My wife DJ Kiss and I throw a party at RDV every Wednesday, we can play any type of music that we choose and the crowd loves whatever we play, so I really love RDV. Also in New York, SL is another dope venue for that high-energy electro house vibe. As far as out of town goes, I have to give it up to LIV in Miami, Playhouse in LA is incredible, and TAO in Las Vegas. I love playing big venues out of town, there’s no better feeling than walking into a room with 4,000 people and DJing for them. The energy that a crowd like that gives you is unbelievable and like no other!
Do you Prefer Vinyl or CD’s?
Some DJ’s criticize that a lot of scratches are preprogrammed or pre-made. What is your opinion on that?
Its funny, being a DJ you’re always worried about when you put out a mix that someone might take it and play it in a club and act’s like their DJing and you always joke about how that’s never going to happen. There was this one time that I was some spot in the Hamptons and some guy was DJing (not going to say who) and he was pretty good. Then I hear the famous DJ AM wonderwall mix come on, and I all of the sudden I hear the scratching and I immediately recognize that was AM. The DJ was air scratching the wonderwall mix pretending that it was him doing it. Just to see someone do that made me realize that maybe people are preprogramming their mixes and I would have to say that no matter how good/bad you are as a DJ, stand your own ground as a man rather than use someone else’s stuff or preprogram something.
Your doing a live gig, what is the most essential equipment you need?
Two technic 1200’s turntables
Rane 57 Mixer or a Pioneer DJM 800
Bottle of patron
How would you describe your type of music that you play to someone that’s never heard you before and what they could expect when they come hear you live?
I would have to say that I play high-energy music to keep the crowd going. I love to mix it up and play records that are unexpected. I’ve heard complaints that most music in clubs is the same and I don’t want to sound every other DJ out there. Serato has given us the opportunity to carry from 10-20K records on our laptop and there should be no reason that DJ’s are all playing the same 400 records every night. I like to reach out and push the crowd to listen to something a little different and experiment!
What sets you apart from the other DJs out there?
I’m just the greatest! Nah I’m just playing. What I believe sets me apart is that I don’t like to play the same music as everybody else. Of course you have your Top 40 records your going to play that everyone plays. However, I like to mix in something you wont expect hearing in a club. I like to talk to the club staff at the end of a night to get the inside scoop on how the night was and they always tell me how they loved hearing a particular record that they haven’t heard in a while. I feel like that’s what really sets me apart, I love music and play music for people especially music that’s unexpected!
Any particular artists or tracks that you like to feature during sets or any songs you put on that really get the crowd going? House and Electro is where its at are now, we are at a weird time right now. Back in the day when “In Da Club” came out you can hands down say that was the biggest record in the club. Nowadays I don’t think you can really name one song that is the “Go To” song. It’s hard question, personally I’d rather play a classic rock song that would have people going “oh I can’t believe he just dropped that” and start dancing.
If you had a chance of working with one Artist from any decade and collaborate on making a record, who would it be?
Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder. Hands down.
What was the first record you have ever purchased?
“Mona Lisa Ft The LOX – I Just Want To Please You” I actually still carry that record with me in a crate.
What record do you play that never fails and never lets you down?
The one record that I play in any club no matter where I’m at that never fails is “Jay-Z – Public Service Announcement” I Feel like its one of those records that we’ll be playing for the rest of our lives and is never going to die.
What is your favorite record of all time?
“Thriller” by Michael Jackson would have to be my favorite album, “Baby Be Mine” is probably my favorite song on there and of all time.
Do you have a vinyl collection? How big is it?
I don’t consider myself a vinyl collector, I would just buy records that I really liked at the time and planned on playing. I would never buy a song just to put up on my wall, so I wouldn’t say that my collection is huge but if I would have to give an estimate I would say maybe 3,000 records.
DJ M.O.S. has become a household name in the nightlife industry ranging from the US to and Europe; we have to ask how did you come up with your name? What’s the story behind that?
Am I world famous?! That’s funny I didn’t know. Those are just my initials, Masud Ogbonna Semple. I was opening up for my boy DJ SUSS ONE for one of the parties we were doing in New Rochelle a while back and they were going to put me on the flier. While on the phone with the graphic designer he asked me what he wants my DJ name to be. I just said put M.O.S. and I’ll think of something later. It just stuck after that and never changed.
Describe your early days and the come up in the very competitive nightlife industry; what steps did you take to achieve success?
First of all I made a demo and I literally went out every night and approached every promoter and club owner that I met. I would find a club a that I liked and find a way to get in. If I didn’t get in I would go back to the club the next week and try again and got in. It got to the point where I knew all the doormen and bouncers by name and give them all CD’s of my demo. I would consistently e-Mail club owners and promoters to get me a spot to DJ in a club that I liked. I was persistent and that helped me achieve success. I quit my job to DJ full time so there was no back up plan, I saw something that I wanted to do and went after it. I never took no as an answer, I knew that I was good enough to play in any club that I wanted to.
What advice would you give to the up and coming DJ’s/Promoters on the scene today?
Dedicate yourself to your craft and never give up. As cliché as it might sound never be lazy, there’s always someone at your neck working twice as hard trying to take your spot, it’s up to you to not let that happen.
The scene is more promoter and customer driven than it was back in the day. I feel like today you can buy your way into the club as opposed to back in the day you had to be cool to get in. No matter how much money you had. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, clubs found a way to capitalize on it. Although I feel that it took the edge a little bit away from the music aspect of the scene. Because it’s customer driven, clubs tell DJ’s more of what to play as opposed of letting them do their own thing.
Where can you be spotted on a night that you’re not working and just hanging out?
Apple TV, and Xbox (laughs). You know man it always feel like I’m always working so when I do have some time off I like to chill with my wife, go catch a movie or something. Generally Stray away from the mayhem and relax!
This is your first interview post marriage, we have to ask how does it feel to be a newly married man?
Marriage is amazing! It’s only been a few days but it’s definitely an incredible feeling. Especially when you find someone who you really care about and that you trust and has your back! It’s interesting, in the nightlife industry you go out every night and meet people but out of those people how many truly have your back? How many people can you call when you’re in a Jam? It’s very cool to just have someone in the trenches with you and you know that you can lean on them for support whenever you need it.