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October 21, 2010  | by: M. Jason Driscoll

DJ M.O.S. has quickly become one of New York's most popular DJs.

DJ M.O.S. talked with emcBlue on a wide range of topics from his humble beginnings and personal inspirations, to music, fashion, and politics. Despite becoming one of the most sought after spinners in the game, DJ M.O.S. remains the epitome of quiet confidence. A conversation with him feels less like a formal interview and more like a relaxed conversation between friends. He’s played at exclusive clubs all over the world in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Las Vegas, Paris, Oslo and Tokyo, but he fondly remembers his first gigs in Westchester, New York.  After working with some of the industry’s heaviest hitters like Russell Simmons and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, he still cites his father as one of his biggest musical influences. It quickly becomes clear when talking to M.O.S. that he has achieved the delicate balance most artists struggle for – remaining grounded while shooting for the sky.

On DJ M.O.S.:

When asked to describe who DJ M.O.S. is in one sentence, he responds without hesitation: “I think DJ M.O.S. is a talented, creative person who expresses himself through music. Yeah.” His website bio describes his eclectic taste and his incorporation of ‘his love of rock, soul, disco, electro, house, R&B and hip hop music’ into each and every one of his sets. It is undoubtedly this passion that makes him such an entity in the industry and exactly why clients such as Esquire Magazine, Bill Clinton and Kanye West seek his services.

On Growing Up and Inspiration:

I asked M.O.S., “Growing up, who were your inspirations in the industry; who influenced you to become the artist you are today?” I expected a number of answers after researching his career, mixes and style. He surprised me though when he said: “You know, as a DJ, everybody always says they were influenced by their parents. But, really, I was influenced by the music my dad played. […] I was always into art and music. I played piano as a kid.” He went on to list an incredibly diverse list of artists that ranged from John Coltrane of the 50s and 60s, Earth, Wind and Fire of the 70s to Funkmaster Flex and Kid Capri of the 90s.

“I was always into art and music. I played piano as a kid.”

On His First Gig:

I also asked DJ M.O.S. to recollect his first gig if he could. “My first gig was at Luahn on 13th Street and Fifth Avenue, back in 2002, that was my first time residing on my own. The dude in the residence before me was a vampire,” said M.O.S.  Naturally, I paused and sought clarification. “[Laughs] No, really, he was a black dude with fangs.” After that, his response drifted into a contemplative reminiscing of the times he would haul milk crates around to “little spots in Westchester.” It’s obvious that M.O.S. is not the type to forget his humble beginnings and in fact, he treasures them.

On His “Wow” Moment:

"I used to feel like every moment may make you or break you."

M.O.S. has lent his services to Kanye West, Britney Spears and Diddy, but when I asked him to recall an event or instant where he had that “wow” moment, he surprised me once again. He began with: “I mean there are a few [moments]. I used to feel like every moment may make you or break you. But I don’t really believe that anymore.” Then, he carefully shared with me the story of when M.O.S. met Jay-Z. He was getting ready for a gig at The Eldridge when he got a text message from the club that revealed Jay-Z had just walked in with some of his friends. Unsurprisingly, M.O.S. immediately headed inside and began playing for him; for three and a half hours nobody else entered the New York hotspot. Of the night, he said, “I just played for like three and a half hours and at the end of the night Jay said, ‘Yo, man that was real dope.’ After that I was like, ‘Nope, nobody talk to me, Jay-Z just said I was dope’ [Laughs].”

“I used to feel like every moment may make you or break you. But I don’t really believe that anymore.”

Thereafter, he went on to talk about several other moments in his career thus far that he won’t soon forget, including the time he worked P. Diddy’s “VMA After-Party” and the cops had to shut down an entire New York City Street. “It was a really great, great party,” said M.O.S.

On Kanye and Controversy:

I was interested to get M.O.S.’s feelings on the recent controversy surrounding Kanye West’s album artwork, especially after learning about his work with the often provocative rap artist. On Mr. West he said,

“I’m a big fan of Kanye. I see what he’s trying to do, it’s art, it’s supposed to invoke feelings and invoke reactions. They shouldn’t try to censor it. Kanye’s really kind of putting himself out there. It’s smart, he really wants people to think and react to it.”

On Nicki Minaj and Personalities:

With the recent influx of personality driven stars, I really wanted to get DJ M.O.S.’s opinion on stars like Nicki Minaj and their styles and performance methods. On Minaj he said:

“I like Nicki Minaj, I think she is an amazing rapper and artist. But I feel like her facial expressions sometimes take away from her performance. I get what she’s doing though. It’s another smart move on her part. You have to market yourself, as not just a rap artist, but as an artist in general.”

On Ferragamo, Vanity Fair and Pre-Gig Rituals:

M.O.S. was recently invited to DJ the “Ferragamo and Vanity Fair Launch of Ferragamo World”. I was interested to find out what he thought the event would be like and if he had any pre-gig rituals he would be willing to reveal to me. He replied, “It’ll be a really nice event. It’s very different DJ-ing in stores than in clubs. You can play records you can’t usually play in clubs.” Then he conceded he didn’t really have any specific rituals he absolutely had to perform before playing, but did reveal, “I do carry this album, “Just Wanna Please You” by Mona Lisa, to every gig. It serves as a reminder of how far I have come and also where I’ve come from.”

On Politics, Cory Booker and President Obama:

M.O.S. has always been active in the political sphere. He’s provided music to a myriad of politicians during their rallies and on their campaigns. I asked him if he could play at any politician’s convention during the upcoming election period, which would it be? He quickly responded, “I think Cory Booker is really the next rising star of the Democratic Party. He’s an amazing speaker.” He’s actually DJ-ed for Cory Booker in the past and the fact that he would do it again and again only further proves his loyalty towards Booker’s political career.

Then I asked him a question that hundreds of television hosts and journalists have been debating for months: How do you think President Obama has done since he entered office? “He’s done an amazing job. You know, we don’t live in a dictatorship, we live in a democracy. The Republican Party blocks and waters down legislation every day.” He spoke about how it can be frustrating that even the President’s supporters refuse to speak up when their votes count the most. “It’s like, if you don’t speak up, how do you expect to be heard? Still, he has passed more significant legislation than the previous two presidents.”

“It’s like, if you don’t speak up, how do you expect to be heard?”

On Free Time and Fashion:

"I love fashion. I'm all about the shoes."

So we talked about his inspirations, his work and his politics, but now I wanted to know where he shopped and hung out when he wasn’t playing nightclubs, magazine launches and political rallies. I asked him if he was a t-shirt and jeans kind of guy, or more the crisp suit and tie type. “I’m a mixture of both. You know, I like to be comfortable. I like to wear jeans, but I also like to get dressed up,” he said.  M.O.S. began to list his favorite shopping destinations, from Louis Vuitton to J. Lindeberg to John Varvatos, and even the fortune of his custom fittings with his friends at Q James Bespoke. He confessed, “I love fashion. I’m all about the shoes.” In fact, his shoe collection ranges from the essential Nikes to luxurious Christian Louboutins.

“I love to eat, I love to cook. In New York [my favorite restaurant] would have to be Old Homestead Steakhouse, it’s my favorite place to eat.” In Miami M.O.S. can be found at Felipe’s and in Los Angeles he’s always at Nobu getting their world-famous sushi.

Club-wise, he says that even if he didn’t hold residences at clubs like Miami’s LIV at The Fontainebleau resort, Mur.Mur in Atlantic City, or New York’s RdV (where he has his popular “Baby I’ma Star” parties) he “would still be hanging out there.”

On Aspiring Musicians

I asked M.O.S. what advice he would give to those struggling to get into the music industry. He immediately replied, “Practice, Practice, Practice. You can’t become a great DJ without putting the work in. You can know somebody to get you in the club, but if you suck, you suck, bottom line. Oh, and you have to know the importance of marketing. Look at yourself as a product, as an artist. It’s like Nicki Minaj, you have to combine all the aspects.”

On What’s Next:

Finally, before I ended the question and answer session, I wanted to know what was next for the DJ; where did he see himself in five years, a clothing line, movies? “[Laughs] I never thought about a clothing line. But that’s actually a good idea. Then he began talking about the production company he’s been working on for eight months, “House of Lights.” His excitement for the project was incredible. “We’ve been building our catalog, but yeah, production is next for me. I’m open to all opportunities at this point, honestly. DJ-ing has really served as a launching pad. I really think the sky is the limit for me.”

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