Meet Kent’s local DJs

Rachel Hagenbaugh

They’re musicians, but not the kind with guitars and drums. This group of people invests time and passion in an upcoming trend that has yet to take off in areas like Kent. They’re disc jockeys, dedicated to spreading their love for electronic dance music.

Evan Evolution

Evan Bailey, assistant professor of journalism and mass communication, began his career playing in bands in high school. He was a freshman at Kent State in 1999 when electronic music became popular. He started playing music for friends who hosted events and was immediately hooked.

He bought a set of turntables and started playing small events around Kent State. Eventually, he started playing once a week at the Robin Hood.

He graduated from Kent State with a degree in advertising in 2003 and started playing in places like Miami, Puerto Rico, New York and Houston. His biggest show was the Ultra Music Festival in Miami, where he said performed for about 30,000 people.

He currently teaches two classes at Kent State but still makes time to DJ on Thursday nights and weekends. Thursdays he plays at 157 Lounge. He said today’s college student is interested in electronic music and he has fun reworking songs students hear on the radio.

“In Kent, you introduce students to something that’s more original,” Bailey said. “I like exposing them to artists, records and sounds they’ve never heard before.

Bailey said he’s achieved his personal goals in the DJ business because he’s opened shows for bands in many different places. His next step is to take his hobby overseas. If he won the lottery, he said he’d focus more on producing his own music.

Ricky Ruckkus

Ricky Rucker, Kent State alumnus who graduated in 2005 with a degree in business, said he’s been a DJ since he was 16. He began hosting events in high school and continued part time in college. After he graduated, he was able to put more time and commitment into being a DJ.

“It’s a great industry, and I take it very seriously,” Rucker said.

Rucker mostly DJs for school dances, nightclubs and weddings. He said he’s performed at concerts for crowds up to 10,000 people.

Rucker said his mother and father influenced his versatile music background. His father played in the New York Symphony and taught him about jazz, blues and classical music. He said his mother was a hippie who was into classic rock. Because of this, he doesn’t keep himself grounded to one specific genre of music.

“I feel the vibe for the crowd and build my nights around that,” he said.

MJ Parlay

Michael Parisi, Kent State alumnus who graduated in August 2011, started to DJ events at the Robin Hood in Spring 2010. He’s played at a variety of events including parties, dances, bars, rock and rap shows and raves.

Parisi said being a DJ is about knowing your music. He spends a lot of time on the Internet, reading blogs and charts of music.

“It’s the big thing with any artist,” Parisi said. “Grab influences from other artists but carve your own path.”

A lot of DJs in the area make quick transitions from one song to another. Parisi said he’s unique because he makes smooth transitions that take longer to cut to the next song. He also likes to mix it up by mixing different genres of music in his sets.

Parisi said he wants to focus on writing his own songs. He said he’s in the process of releasing an album that will come out soon.

“I’m a perfectionist,” Parisi said. “I don’t want to release anything that’s not 100 percent.”

He played every Tuesday night at 157 Lounge and sometimes played events with his cousin, DJ D-Breezy, and they form the duo Yo! Cuzzins. In October, he plans to move to Los Angeles and continue his career.

DJ D-Breezy

Dominic Parisi, senior marketing major, always has a love for music. He was the unofficial DJ for a lot of his fraternity parties. At the time, he used his computer and downloaded music on iTunes to play at the parties. He also downloaded a virtual DJ program to make quick transitions from one song to another.

One night he hosted a sorority date-night party at the Robin Hood. The owner and DJ at the bar saw that Parisi had talent and offered him a job. He learned how to play on the resident DJ’s turntables and eventually bought his own.

Since then he’s been the DJ for many events around Kent State including Campus Pointe pool parties, tailgate parties at Dix Stadium, FlashFest 2011 and the majority of Greek events. He and his cousin, MJ Parlay, were the DJs for Kent State’s 2010-2011 spring fashion show.

There’s no crowd to big or too small, but there’s nothing like spinning records for a big crowd, Parisi said. He said he’s a DJ because he loves watching the crowd have fun and ensuring they have a good time.

He said he wants to keep working on his music. Ideally, he’d like to move somewhere with a bigger market such as Texas, where electronic music is still being established. He DJs every Thursday and Saturday night at 157 Lounge.

Danny Basic

Rian Roland, sophomore electronic media major, had an interest in electronic music since 2007. He grew up in Kansas City and started playing at warehouse raves. There were usually about 200 people there and it was an interesting experience, Roland said.

“At bars people go to drink,” he said. “This was just about the music.”

Roland moved to Kent in Fall 2009 and immediately began networking with DJs in the area. He started playing at Alley Disco at the Kent Stage and eventually moved to 157 Lounge.

Roland mixes a lot of top 40 songs with underground music. He said he looks for new songs and tries to sense what will be popular.

When Roland graduates college, he plans to start working on producing music. He plans to move to London or Berlin, where the rave scene is huge. He said electronic music is popular in Europe, but it hasn’t caught on in the United States yet.

“It’s a great place to be,” Roland said. “It’s very cutting edge.”

Luke Benjamin

Lucas Cornfield, senior electronic media major, grew up in New York, where electronic music is popular. He said he’s been listening to it since he was in high school. He attended his first show in 2008 in Atlantic City and fell in love with the music.

He began practicing in his room using a virtual DJ program. He started hosting parties at his house in college and eventually bough a basic set of turntables.

He’s played at Alley Disco and was a DJ for Black Squirrel Radio in Fall 2010 and Spring 2011. In summer 2011, Danny Basic told him 157 Lounge was looking for more DJs. Cornfield began playing there in July, opening for DJ D-Breezy on Saturday nights.

Cornfield plays top 40 remixes but said he’s not afraid to introduce the crowd to new music. He spends a lot of time looking for music. When he finds something good he enjoys being able to share it with the crowd.

In October, Cornfield will start playing every Tuesday night at 157 Lounge since MJ Parlay is moving to Los Angeles. Cornfield said he has big shoes to fill.

“MJ built Tuesday nights and I’m going to have to do the same thing,” he said. “It’s going to be different but hopefully I’ll have the same results.”


Rachel Hagenbaugh at [email protected]