Big Syphe: Inside the DJ Booth
DJ Big Syphe had been spinning at neighborhood parties for years before he had the opportunity to take his skills around the globe, serving as a supporting record spinner for international superstar Pitbull. The California native was a devotee of music — he dabbled in production as a teenager — and coupled that passion with his love for turntables, which eventually led him to one of the top radio stations in the country, Los Angeles’ Power 106.
When he was just 19 years old, Syphe was already doing well as an enterprising industry head. He was on the station’s street team but he was also allowed the opportunity to guest host and spin late night mixes from time to time. Although, Syphe knew bigger things were in store for him, he had no idea his breakthrough would come from meeting Pitbull’s mother.
Syphe traveled to Las Vegas with Power 106 one weekend for a showcase event. The eager DJ was sequestered to a lonely table since he was underage. At some point in the evening, a young rapper by the name of Pitbull made his rounds at the showcase and his mother accompanied him. The woman spotted Syphe sitting all alone so she walked over, introduced herself, then called her son over.
“Ever since then, we just kept in touch and I tried to break his records,” Syphe tells The BoomBox. “He knew I was an up and coming DJ, so we just kept in touch, talked on the regular and we just built a relationship, you know. And 10 years later, I’m his DJ and I’m also signed to him as a producer. It’s kinda cool.”
It’s a pretty charmed life for a young DJ who had big dreams one day, and was able to watch them come to life the very next day. But even the most focused artists can’t keep the unexpected from happening. When asked about his worst DJ experience, Syphe recalls an incident in Dallas during the Super Bowl.
“In the middle of my set I had an equipment failure. It just kinda gave up and we were just trying to figure out what was going on. In those five minutes, there’s no DJ so we had to hang with the crowd and keep them entertained. It all worked out, but it was very embarrassing on my end because everybody was looking at me like, ‘What’s going on?’ Five minutes is a long time, you know.”
He laughs about it now, but at the time, Syphe says it was a major deal. Then there was the night he’d had too much to drink, which he says was one of his funniest moments. “I shouted the wrong city out on the mic. That was embarrassing,” Syphe says with a laugh. “They kinda just stared at me but I played it off well. I go, ‘See? This is what happens when the DJ gets drunk.’”
When mixing records is your job though, there has to be more to it than just partying. DJs party every night, however, the fulfillment comes from knowing they’re touching others with their music. Syphe says he doesn’t have a favorite city to spin in but he truly does enjoy seeing the crowd’s reaction to music all over the world.
“When I deejayed in South Africa… The DJ before me was playing a lot of old school records from like maybe 10, 15 years ago. I saw the crowd and they were just loving it,” Syphe says excitedly. “I do feel like sometimes when I go to different countries they appreciate the music still, you can feel that energy. And that’s not to say that out here in the U.S. they don’t. Sometimes when I go to other countries and see how they appreciate old classics… Sometimes I see people having more fun than in the major cities out here — New York, Miami, even in Los Angeles.”
A decade after meeting Pitbull, Syphe is enjoying his progress — he’s still doing what he loves, but on a different level nowadays. He’s spinning clubs, but now he does it while traveling the world. He produces records and remixes and also co-hosts an afternoon show on Power 106, The Big Syphe & Eric D-Lux Show. Yet Syphe says he isn’t even close to his career goals.
“I still don’t feel like I accomplished some of my really big goals that I really want to do,” he shares. “The whole reason I started deejaying, was because I wanted to do my own music as far as producing artists and being able to play those records. I still dream of doing that for people like Madonna.”
Top Five Songs of the Moment
1. ‘It’s Not You,’ T-Pain feat. Pitbull
2. ‘Houdini,’ Foster the People
3. ‘I’ma Boss,’ Meek Mill
4. ‘International Love,’ Pitbull
5. ‘We Found Love,’ Rihanna
Top Songs to Rock a Party
1. ‘Show Me Love,’ Robyn S.
2. ‘Shots,’ LMFAO
3. Anything from Pitbull
4. ‘Got Money,’ Lil Wayne