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Inside The Life Of A Border DJ

Chauncy Wahinya (otherwise known as DJ-cdub) is a 25-year-old student at University of Colorado Denver, but you’ve probably seen or heard him on stage at our ~fav~ place on campus: The Border! We were curious to see what it’s like DJing on a campus like DU, and what he loves (or doesn’t love) about spending three nights a week with us:

Her Campus: When did you realize you wanted to be a DJ, and who or what were your influences?

Chauncy Wahinya: It all came about around 2002 – I was 11 at the time, and attended a music expo for the first time in Charlotte, North Carolina. My Uncle who is a label producer, took me with him to check out and sample music production gear for the upcoming year. I fell in love with the equipment from there and have been collecting various products ever since.
HC: How did you end up DJing at the bars in Denver? Specifically the Border?
CW: Last February I happened to be at the Border on a Thursday night. I’m new to the area and wanted to see what the DU area had to offer for the night owls. I ended up staying to check out the local DJ and the general crowd that frequents the area. The music was good, although I felt as if the genere of music was being skewed to fit the performers preference, and not for the students there to enjoy their night. Which, led me on to inquire at the bar about any openings for upcoming talent in the Denver area. Since I have my own equipment, it wasn’t hard to set up a date in the upcoming weeks to test the waters and see if what I had to offer was worth the trouble.
HC: How often do you DJ at the Border?
CW: I play at the Border 3 nights a week. Friday, Saturday and Wednesday nights.
HC: What are the best and worst parts about DJing for the DU student body?
CW: The best part is playing for a crowd that enjoys the same music I do. I’d say the worst part is when the night gets out of hand with the student-to-student friction causing altercation after altercation, making the night come to an end.
HC: What is it about DJing compared to say, producing your own music, that you enjoy or interests you?
CW: Producing entails a lot more time and energy to create something that’s purely your creativity. From the writing to the arrangement, into the actual production, followed by recording or mixing – then you have a finished product. Playing the DJ part of it all, makes it easier to organize a playlist of music into songs that compliment each other, and creating a progressive wave of music you can intensify as the night peaks.  
HC: Can you walk me through how you prepare for a set?
CW: Basically, I’ll look through the various collection of music I have and I’ll hand-pick artists that the students in the DU area like. I’ll make a list and add a few throwback songs from the late 2000’s to the early 2010’s. These are songs that people know the lyrics to, giving them a reason to sing along.
HC: Do you typically use transitions between songs, or do you just cut straight into the next song?
CW: Personally, I don’t use any [transitions]. I’m not really into adding effects actually… I try to blend the music without adding external effects. It makes it smoother without adding unexpected sound. 
HC: How do you know what music to play to a crowd of college students? Is there technique behind this aspect – like any marketing efforts?
CW: I people watch a lot. I play a song and watch how the crowd reacts and will be taking mental notes constantly. It’s all about knowing how to get feet moving when there’s a plateau in the dance floor. 
HC: Could you try to explain what a typical night of DJing is like here on campus, and maybe how to respond or react when you feel the crowd isn’t agreeing with the music that’s being played?
CW: The night will begin with me playing billboard charted music since it’s popular and most students in the DU age range recognize the music well. I enjoy playing requests as well because it gives me a lot of insight and feedback for what works and what doesn’t work. There are times when a song played isn’t received as well as other songs, but that is expected. I’m still learning and that’s part of the process – so I use those opportunities to improve on my song selection at different points of the night. Since DU has a big female student body, I like playing music that will compliment that and balance the night between the girls and the general crowd, being the guys. But, ladies first – always. 
HC: Are there any fun-facts or behind-the-scenes info you can share with us?
CW: Being a New DJ, I get the stigma of, “all I simply do is hit the play button and that’s it”. Hopefully some people will realize there’s a bit more to it than just that. If that’s all I did, I don’t think the Border would be as popular as it is now becoming. My goal is to make the night all about the experience of listening to a range of good music that everyone can enjoy, and to have a reason to come back for more good music. Good music equals good times!
You can check out and follow DJ-cdub on Soundcloud here!
Lindsey Miller is a University of Denver sophomore majoring in Strategic Communications and minoring in Professional Writing. She is the campus correspondent of Her Campus DU, which she co-founded in March 2015. Lindsey can see herself taking her career in many directions, but of course hopes she will be writing wherever and whatever that may be.
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