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When I saw DJ Scotty K’s name on the list of DJs performing at this year’s White Party, I immediately remembered the time I lunched with Scotty and some other friends at The Abbey in West Hollywood. That was about five years ago and I have not seen Scotty since. Excited that he was coming to Palm Springs, I reached out to him hoping he would give me an interview for my column. It was great catching up with him.
Scotty has made quite a name for himself, producing chart-topping remixes for Kimberly Locke, Erin Hamilton, Pepper MaShay, Cyndi Lauper, and many others. He also has the distinction of being the first daytime talk show DJ, appearing in season one of the Ellen DeGeneres Show. I caught up with Scotty by telephone and we talked about his musical inspirations, his move from New York to Los Angeles, and his experience of becoming Ellen’s DJ.
TBL: New York must have been a great place to discover Dance music and DJing.
DJ Scotty K: Going to clubs in New York really inspired me. It [was] less about dancing, and [more about] watching [people react to what the DJ was playing]. I watched the DJs and became fascinated by the power of that music. I was impressed with how someone could have such knowledge of Dance music and know the impact that song would have before it even hit the floor.
So what got the ball rolling?
I became really good friends with DJ Max Rodriquez in New York, who was kind of a mainstay there at many Tea Dances and New York Pride events. He kind of showed me the ropes a little bit. I started making some compilation CDs [and began to DJ at events.] Some people heard me at a benefit and that person referred me to this person, and then that person referred me to a club, and then that club led to bigger clubs and events in New York. It just kind of went from there.
How did things change when you moved to Los Angeles?
I was kind of the new kid on the block. Nobody knew who I was. I had no pull or power whatsoever. Not that I was looking for that, but I was certainly trying to be hired and get some play. [Then I met] the guys at Here Lounge, who were in the process of building [that club.] They were also from New York and kind of knew about me. I approached them…and they found my sound to be unique from the other submissions, so they had me play at their opening party event. I left a good impression…so they hired me. That is basically how I got my start in L.A.
Do you gravitate towards a particular sound?
At the core of any of the music I play is strong musicality [and] vocals. I do have a little bit of a music background; I studied it in school. So I have always been very respectful of melody and music. Although I am not unfamiliar with more underground sounds, I gravitate more toward something that has a strong vocal as well as a strong melodic line.
Do you have a favorite artist?
My favorite band of all time is Tears for Fears. In the Dance world, the people who left the biggest impression on me originally were Madonna, David Morales, Frankie Knuckles, and Ralphi Rosario. I still love and appreciate their work today. Those are some of my influences and favorites.
Let’s talk about your gig on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. How did that come about?
It happened as a complete accident. I was at [the Perfect Beat record store in Los Angeles] when [the owner] said to me, ‘[The Ellen Show] is looking for a DJ.” So I called…and sent over a resume. I got a phone call to come in and meet with the producers. I [wanted] to leave a great impression, so…I remixed one of her stand-up routines to [Robin Thicke’s “When I Get You Alone”] I left the remix behind when I finished the meeting with the producers. As I drove away…I got a call from one of them [who said,] ‘Do you think you can meet with Ellen tomorrow?’
How did that meeting go?
It was very intimidating, but we had a great meeting. At the end of it, she seemed like she liked me and that was great. Then the producer said to Ellen, “Before we let Scotty go, he did this remix for you.” I was petrified. They played it for the entire room. There were like 20 people in the room and I’m sitting right next to Ellen; I’m a nervous wreck; I’m sweating bullets, and they play it. There’s a moment [in the remix] where I did some creative editing where it’s supposed to generate a laugh. I thought if they don’t laugh at this part, it’s going to be the worst four minutes of my life.
Talk about pressure.
Well, they ended up laughing and the room just loved it. Ellen was looking at me, just smiling. She couldn’t believe it; she’s shaking her head. She grabbed my shoulder and said, “Where the [heck] have you been hiding? I have seen over 25 DJs and this just completely blew me away.”
That’s fantastic! What came next?
I put all my energy into putting a library and soundtrack together. The show got underway and it ended up being a really big hit for her and that was great. But then, like everything in Hollywood, things come to an end. Essentially, the creative powers that be wanted to make some changes to the show…and that included me. It was super great while it lasted and I certainly understood the reasoning behind it all. I am still quite friendly with Ellen and we talk a couple times a year and we have had lunch and dinner. There are no hard feelings there.
That experience must have been a stepping stone to other things.
It gave me enough of a name to pursue the music production stuff even further. That’s what I saw the entire Ellen experience as for me; a stepping stone to getting into full-on music production. [After Ellen] I actually started getting phone calls returned because people recognized my name from the show.
There is no arguing that DJ Scotty K has definitely acquired a name for himself. His productions have earned him much love and respect from peers and fans alike. Having met him, I can tell you that he is also one of the sweetest guys you will ever meet. Buy your tickets for White Party now and make sure you don’t miss Scotty’s set. For more information on DJ Scotty K, visit his official web site at Djscottyk.com.
This article was originally published HERE.