To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I started the Hustle Hard Interview Project. Each month for the next year, I’ll be interviewing one Hustler who embodies a skill or a quality I admire. I hope to uncover some gems that bring me one step closer to being a fully-formed adult.
#10: CONSIGLIERE OF FRESH BEATS
Music has always ruled my life. I spent an entire day organizing my mother’s prized Tupperware collection in elementary school to earn enough money to buy my first Tupac album. When Snoop’s Doggystyle came out, I couldn’t force myself to work the plastic container grind again, so I “borrowed it for an extended period of time” from my friend Gina. I managed to make my own copy by positioning one tape player next to another and hitting “play” on one device and “record” on another. iTunes claims that I’ve listened to Bassnectar’s “Timestretch” (West Coast Lo Fi Remix) 900 times. In two years.
Since the summer of 2011, I’ve made over 40 trips to Las Vegas (several lasting only 12 hours) to watch some of the best DJs in the world. The city is overflowing with talent, so it’s really no place for anyone without a distinct style or sound. That’s not a problem for DJ and producer, Jace One.
Nominated as Best Big Room DJ in 2012 and Best Pool DJ in 2011, his fresh sets have turned up the bumping and grinding for clubgoers at Hakkasan (MGM), Marquee (Cosmopolitan), Surrender (Encore), Hyde (Bellagio), and poolside at Encore Beach Club (Encore).
EJL: Thousands of people come to LA each year to pursue their dreams in entertainment, but it’s hard to be noteworthy and special and hustle long enough for people to take notice. I’m sure the same is true for Las Vegas. How did you turn your hobby into a career? How does someone live the life of their dreams?
JO: I had no hook-ups when I moved to Vegas. Friends who had already made the move gave me some great advice, but the rest of it happened because I didn’t give up. I woke up one day and knew that I had to do this. A friend and his girl were flying out to Vegas for the weekend, and even though I didn’t have a lot of money, I decided to join them and use that trip to hustle.
I literally walked into every club and venue, trying to figure out the right person to talk to. There were a few spots that kicked me out. On the third and final day, I was down to my last press kit from the 50 or 60 I had made, and my friend suggested I bring it to lunch at Mandalay Bay. As we walked by Rum Jungle, I decided to give it one last shot. One of the guys happened to know who I was from a band I was in back in L.A., and invited me to audition that Wednesday.
EJL: So you went in during the day to audition?
JO: No, they put you in when it’s a full club! There were 4 or 5 other DJs auditioning that night, and each of us got half an hour. That audition got me a 4-hour shift headlining in a primetime set. I was at the right place at the right time. And I was prepared.
EJL: If you can make it in Vegas as a DJ, you can make it anywhere, amirite? How did you go about building your career here?
JO: You have to paint a picture of who you are as a DJ- your own sound, style, and stage presence. Putting in the time to master your craft- how you mix, keeping up with what’s new, and staying really pure to yourself and your style. It’s easy to jump on what’s hot, hoping to get the same notoriety, but in the end, the DJs who have been really successful have their own sound.
EJL: One of my best friends, Jessica, lived in Las Vegas until a few months ago. The stories I hear from her day-to-day life coupled with my own experiences here make me think that it’s hard for any grinder in any pursuit not to get distracted. How do you keep your focus?
JO: I hear those stories every day too. Everything is available at any time of the day and so many things happen in this city. It helped me to define my purpose. By staying within that scope, I had a better chance of remaining grounded and not losing sight of why I’m here.
EJL: Do you think having a family has motivated you to hustle harder?
JO: I don’t think I would have pursued this life as hard if I didn’t have my three girls. As a dad, I knew I had to be successful because being lazy or failing wasn’t an option for me. Children are very intelligent. I don’t hide anything from them, and I share my struggles. They absorb what they see and the girls know that they need to believe in themselves because, in the end, no one does the hard work for you.
EJL: If you could give one piece of advice to someone pursuing their passion, what would it be?
JO: Never give up. You have to believe that you’re great at what you do no matter what. Don’t listen to the people who tell you that you suck. There’s always room to be better. It’s easy to say, “I’ve had enough. This hurts way too much. It’s too frustrating. I’m done.” Don’t make giving up an option. I truly believe that it’s supposed to be hard, but if you continue to be good, everything’s going to be just fine.
Damn, Jace One, PREACH.
P.S. For (t)hug life thoughts and other randomness, follow along on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page. For not-seen-on-this-blog pictures, follow along on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress). You will probably not be sorry.
Image courtesy of Fred Morledge