Eight disk jockeys, all Western students, went deck to deck on Tuesday night at The Wild Buffalo’s WWU Red Bull Play and Destroy event. Competing two at a time in 15 different categories, ranging from “Jock Jams” to “‘90s” to “Down with Divas” to “Seven Minutes in Heaven,” the DJs played to an energetic and responsive crowd.
The first place winner received two tickets to Sasquatch! Music Festival and the runner-up received a DJ set at The Wild Buffalo.
Each DJ was given three minutes to perform and was judged by a panel of judges on transitions, smoothness, the way their songs fit into their randomly chosen category and audience reaction.
The winner of the DJ-off, sophomore biochemistry major James “Jimmy” Moore, also known by James Gatz, said he was grateful for his victory and surprised because he had less experience than the other seven DJs. Moore started DJing nine months ago.
“I was up against guys that have been doing this for multiple years. I felt like an underdog the whole time,” Moore said. “All the other guys were just so relaxed. They were talking the whole time and making jokes.I was the only straight-faced guy up there.”
Moore has been involved with music since he was 7-years-old when he started playing guitar.
He also learned to play the drums but was most drawn to music production and developed James Gatz, his DJ name.
Moore said the best part about performing on stage was the crowd’s reaction.
“The easiest part is actually playing, but then the hardest part is picking the right songs and being a stage performer. People don’t realize that just because you’re a DJ doesn’t mean that’s all it takes,” Moore said.
Moore compared being a DJ to being an actor and said it required showing emotion and having a strong stage presence, something he finds difficult because he is usually quiet.
Moore is unsure exactly what the future holds for his career in music, he said. Although Moore said he loves music, he is unsure how it will fit into his future career.
Two weeks ago, Moore played at the Experience Music Project for Sound Off, both a DJ competition and an audition for Bumbershoot, and placed second.
Senior communication major Michaela Trulson helped plan the competition at The Wild Buffalo.
Trulson said these events are usually done by contestants using their iPods to play songs that match different categories and are judged based on audience response and reaction.
“I felt that Bellingham is too musically inclined for that, and I think if I hosted an event like that people would get bored. So, I switched it to having student DJs,” Trulson said.
This was Trulson’s first time running a DJ competition for Western students exclusively, she said.
“I was really anxious this morning, but I’m pretty excited tonight. I think that it’s going to be a really fun time and a good turnout,” Trulson said.
Trulson said she used guerilla marketing techniques, such as posters, Facebook and word-of-mouth, to get the word out about the event.
One of the judges of the competition, Cory Winget, who goes by Boombox Kid, hosted and MC’d the night. Winget has been an MC his whole life, he said.
“I’ve been DJing for 10 years, and to watch new DJs come up and brave being on stage was really fun. I’m proud of the little guys,” Winget said. “I want to see the art of DJing grow.”
DJs for the competition were selected because of how much they wanted to do it, not because of who they knew, Winget said.Once DJs are established they just have to throw themselves out there, Winget said.
Winget also MC’s The Wild Buffalo’s ‘90s nights and “Keep it 100” nights, which aims to break in new music to Bellingham with an emphasis on hip-hop.