DJs have the ability to set the mood of a space. With laser lights, infectious beats, and repetitive rhythms, a good DJ can often blend a medley of tunes to create his or her own unique atmosphere.
For Cyrus Wesson, a junior marketing communications major, the appeal of producing music was the promise of blending together an assortment of genres ranging from funk and soul to hip-hop classics. Wesson, who performs under the names DJ “Cy” and “Cysmic,” began spinning in Boston in August 2011.
Wesson, who hails from San Francisco, California, said the desire to start creating his own hip-hop beats began while he was in high school and stemmed from an interest in the genres of funk and jazz hip-hop with live instrumentation.
“I taught myself how to make my own beats because I really liked the idea of sampling from funk and soul records,” said Wesson. “Hip-hop wise, I was inspired by DJ Quik, while electronically it was the European producer TAI.”
When he arrived in Boston, Wesson said he immediately began inquiring at different venues in hopes of being able to perform sets.
“The very first show I did was at [the nightclub] Rise, promoting for the White Rabbit crew,” said Wesson. “From there, I started to play house parties and different clubs. For DJs starting out, it’s all about networking yourself.”
Wesson said there are countless outlets for people who want to learn how to produce their own music, from instructional videos on the internet to producers seeking novices. Wesson says it’s crucial for DJs to be excited and energetic about what they’re doing while playing live.
“The most important thing a DJ can do is vibe with the crowd,” said Wesson. “If you can control and mediate the energy among audience members, you’ve done your job.”
Though electronic music is not his genre of preference, Wesson said he appreciates its energy and effect during live shows.
“I really like the repetition of electronic music and the fact that you can bring a crowd of people into the same trance, which isn’t really possible with hip-hop,” said Wesson. “With a synchronized techno pattern you can really bring a crowd into a specific mindset.”
During live shows, Wesson said he aims to incorporate a diverse set list, ranging from hip-hop and Top 40 hits to electro and house music.
“It’s important to keep people guessing,” said Wesson. “If you’re able to make an audience move regardless of the type of music, you’ve done the right thing.”
In addition to his DJ career, Wesson is also the senior writer and submission director at the Metropolitan Jolt, a music site founded and run solely by college students. Metrojolt features concert reviews, mixtapes, and in-depth interviews with a wealth of rising artists ranging from alternative rockers Cage the Elephant, to electronic greats including RJD2 and Steve Aoki.
Wesson said he became affiliated with Metrojolt through founder Ben Kimo Twichell, a friend who possessed similar musical interests. Unlike popular music websites such as Pitchfork and Stereogum, which place heavy emphasis on album reviews, Wesson said Metrojolt is unique in that it serves as more of an outlet for college students to voice their opinions on music. Metrojolt welcomes fans to submit articles and music discoveries.
“Metrojolt is not solely composed of ratings of different tracks and albums,” said Wesson. “It’s more of a thought-provoking publication focused on not only the status of the music but how it was made and the type of niche it fits in.”
Along with expressing his personal insight, Wesson said one of the best parts of writing for the site is being able to converse with different artists.
“I was able to sit down and talk with one of my hip-hop heroes, Casual from the rap group Hieroglyphics,” said Wesson. “It’s awesome to get a glimpse into the minds of these artists and find out where they situate themselves.”
Wesson credits Metrojolt for influencing him to constantly seek out new music and says the site’s current objective is to deliver this music to the people.
“We aim to expand the minds of readers and show people that there’s more to the music that they’re already listening to,” he said.
Junior communications major Cameron Holbrook, who also writes for Metrojolt, said contributing to the website has drastically influenced his perception of music. Holbrook said he was brought onto the Metrojolt team after Wesson heard his radio show on WERS.
“Being able to pick the brains of different artists has definitely been the best experience,” said Holbrook.
As for the future of Metrojolt, Wesson says the website is still evolving as more and more music enthusiasts have begun to contribute.
“For a while we were just doing articles on different artists, but I realize what we’re shifting toward is bringing attention to up-and-coming artists,” said Wesson. “It’s nice to focus on musicians who might not get enough exposure or know how to market themselves.”