The lights in the main room at the Roxy were turned slightly down with only the stage illuminated with bright lights. The stage crew was setting up the equipment for the bands that were lined up to play for the evening. Todo Mundo and the Williamsburg Salsa Orchestra promised to give stellar performances that night, and each delivered. Guests were seated by the dance floor enjoying the tunes while some were moved to the dance floor to get down and boogie. The guest DJ, Joseph Pollack, was up in the balcony overseeing the sound while spinning some really infectious music. It was his first gig at the Roxy, and he was thrilled to cover it. The young DJ has gone a long way from his humble beginnings working quinceneras and weddings. He still covers them but now he’s covering bigger events. The gig at The Roxy was significant because he was the first Latino DJ allowed to work at the venue playing salsa. The same can be said about his gig working at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion for the Impresario Group, “Black Party” where he mixed kizomba along with salsa and bachata hits. He recently worked the Johnny Sky concert in Los Angeles and is currently working on growing his production company, OMNIS Events. He is working recently as one of the rising star DJs at Tropicalisma-Salsa Max Radio in Downey headlining his show, The Flavor, where he showcases up and coming artists in the entertainment industry interviewing them and playing their music. So far, positive reviews have bolstered his ratings and he is excited to take on new opportunities that will offer him growth and many more successes. I took the time to speak with him at the Roxy while he was setting up about his experiences and hopes for the future.
JAMES DAZA: How long have you been working with Tropicalisma- Salsa Max Radio?
JOSEPH POLLACK: I’ve been with Tropicalisma and Salsa Max for 2 months now. I started around the same time that Salsa max merged with Tropicalisma.
JD: How has it been so far?
JP: It’s been fun. Michelle, Cesar, and Rogelio [The owners] are something else. Three totally different people hanging out. It’s been a lot of fun with them.
JD: What is your show, “The Flavor”, about?
JP: The Flavor, besides it being about the music and different genres, That’s why I wanted to call it The Flavor because I wanted to play everything. If you tune in, I try to play something different every day. Occasionally, I have the same songs, hit songs that everybody is listening to. What i really want The Flavor to be is an outlet for up and coming artists. I want to focus on them because they are the future of the music industry. Record labels are dying out, and I think our focus should be directed to the up and coming artists. We had Henry Vera here, and he’s doing amazing things. We had Alejandro La Voz. He has a huge following in Santa Monica, and he is working with the producers of Gente de Sona. So, his album is going to be hot when it comes out. I also had the honor to interview Johnny Sky. He’s about to hit stardom. I think he’s up there with Prince and Romell.
JD: You’ve been a DJ for some time. What got you started?
JP: As far back as I can remember, I mean. It’s always been about the music. My dad gave me a little black boom box. I remember I used to listen to POWER 106 back in the day when Richard Humpty Vision was spinning on the radio along Jeff Garcia and the Aquanets crew. That’s what got me started. It was those DJs back then spinning the music. I mean El General. Even the underground hip hop like Wu Tang, Gang Star, Ra Kim, KRS1. All the hip hop legends. That’s what got me into music. Even my dad too used to play a lot of salsa in the car. So, I used to hear Eddie Santiago when I was a kid. Yeah. It’s always been about the music for me. So, that’s what got me started. It’s just the flavor and the different genres of music.
JD: How old were you when you started Djing? What was it like?
JP: My interest in Djing? I think I was about 10 when I got interested in it. I was like, “Man, I can do that.” But I started when I was about 15. I did a company party and a quincenera. Dude! It was intimidating. (Laughs) People are watching you and expecting you to entertain them. You don’t realize. I didn’t realize it going into it that there was a lot of pressure. People are expecting you to be a total professional. Imagine me being 15, and my friends in high school didn’t know I was doing it. (laughs). So, yeah. It was quite an experience. I learned a lot now.
JD: How has music impacted your life on both personal and professional levels?
JP: A lot. Music has been there for me. If it wasn’t my mom,… You know. I can always go to her to ask her and she’ll always have the right words to put me back on track. If it wasn’t her, it was definitely the music that has got me through all the ups and downs. Nas, Gang Starr, Guru from Gang Starr, KRS1, Rakim, Wu Tang, Their music really got me through a lot of my ups and downs growing up. It’s affected me a lot. It’s made me more of a self-aware person. My girlfriend also thinks my martial arts training has made me very self-aware, but I think it started with the music. I started paying attention more to what they were saying and comparing it to my surroundings. And also, the martial arts taught me the same thing. So, both of those really came hand-in-hand growing up. It’s impacted me a lot. I mean…yeah. (laughing).
JD: What other projects are you involved in?
JP: Besides building the radio station now, I wasn’t planning on doing radio like this. I just wanted to DJ. I (chuckles) wanted to just spin records for people and call it a day. Now, I’m invested in getting The Flavor going and be a household name for people–a household name for artists who want to come and display their talents. I have my production company, OMNIS Events that I’m doing with my girlfriend; she has become a major part in it. She’s an investor. She’s my CFO and CEO. (Laughs). We’re building that as our business. So we work events, the radio, and also me as a DJ working as a personality going out to different clubs or bars. That’s another thing I’ve been working on a lot. For right now, it’s those three.
JD: What have you learned so far in setting up your own production company? What’s involved? Please take our readers through that experience.
JP: A lot of detail. I’ll have to say a lot of detail is what I had to do these last couple of years that I’ve been doing it. There’s an abundance of detail that goes into putting a production together, an event, a wedding, a sweet 16, quincenera, birthday parties, company parties. The detail is what…If anyone wants to do this, I mean that’s what you need to be. To focus on studying on what other production companys are doing and see about getting advice from people that mean well because people can tell you something but can mislead you, but oh well. Definitely learn that. The detail. The technical stuff like speakers. Where am I going to be setting up? How am I going to be setting up? Lighting. Detail in lighting has been such a key thing for me. People like the way I’ve done the lighting. When people visit my website, and see some of the lighting and some of the designs that we’ve created. I also had the opportunity to do the stage design for Laura Luu’s event for the Johnny Sky concert.
JD: Wow! Tell me about that.
JP: It was great! It was me and Luis Aragon putting it all together on stage. (Laughing). We did the job of a 5-man crew. (chuckles). It was great. It was a great experience. Everybody really got to learn a lot. I mean. If anybody ever learned anything from me, it would have to be that. You never stop learning. You should always be open to any experience, any opportunity that comes your way because even if at the end of the day it wasn’t a 100% success, take what you learned from it and make yourself better the next time.
JD: I recall our earlier conversation. You said that the definition of the “DJ” has changed. Could you go into a bit more detail about that? How has the label “DJ” changed?
JP: It’s changed drastically man. I think in the last 8 years it has changed so much where you have to be the production. You have to be the promoter. You have to be the one that brings in the people. Back in the day, back when one of my cousins used to spin, the place had the following. It was where everyone would go. We went here because it was the place to hang out. It was never really about the DJ. Now, it’s become more of the DJ, and I think the venues were the ones that caught on to it. We’re like, “You know what? We’re going to leave the job onto the DJ.” And also the new up and coming DJs that are coming out are also more producers than DJs. Even though they spin their own music, it’s more producing than Djing. And many people think they can become DJs overnight, and it’s not (in my personal opinion). I don’t think you can. You have to really educate yourself. You can’t be stuck to only one genre. In my opinion from knowing a lot of DJs, meeting different DJs, you can specialize in one genre. I mean I can tell you I specialized in a lot of hip hop and house because that’s what I started playing–house and free-style. But definitely, if you want to make more money and you look at it like a business, you should educate yourself in other music not just be stuck to one genre. But the word Dj now is changing. I think it’s being thrown around and it’s being abuse.. (chuckles)…in certain places. Yeah. You cannot just become an overnight DJ. I understand how that can go ahead and happen because it’s so easy to come across equipment nowadays. Im not hating. I’m just saying educate yourself before you call yourself a DJ.
JD: Do you think social media is a big factor in that too? If so, how?
JP: Oh yeah! Definitely. For sure. Everybody has a platform now. Everyone can label themselves something. In social media, if a group of people like you for what you label yourself and what you display, then that’s what you’re going to be.
JD: Has that prompted you to learn more about the technology (the latest apps, social media networks, etc)?
JP: Oh yeah! I wish there was a class for Facebook and a class for Instagram because I can say in the last 6 months I really learned how to use Facebook. (Laughing). I really learned how to use Facebook. I really learned how to use Instagram. Let me tell you man. I can see the difference. Like I really took the time to learn Facebook and Instagram and my numbers boost in following. And my numbers in likes has also boost. So, yeah. Now everything revolves around technology. If you don’t have a laptop, then you’re not doing anything. (Laughing)
JD: Where do you see yourself and your music and your production company in the next 5-10 years?
JP: In the next 10 years, I want to manage my own production company where I run everything. I have a group of DJs who I can trust and depend on that will handle the events that come our way and we book to their 100% capability. So, that for the production, OMNIS events, I would say yeah. I would have a manager that would run the business and everything through us. We would have a group of DJs, bands that we work with normally, and anything for events that we could go ahead and handle it. Yeah. We got it. Boom. Maybe I’ll still be Djing in 10 years and stuff. I don’t want to DJ forever, but if by then it pays well, then yeah I’ll do it. (laughs).
JD: Was there a gig or an event where you said, “What did I get myself into?”
JP: I think it happened once where I went to go do something for church. And I was like cool. I’m going to be doing something for church again. I remember I knew their stage manager. When I showed up, he was like, “Oh my God! Good you’re here!” I was, “Oh! Hey! What’s up man?” He didn’t say hi to me or nothing. He just said, “Ladies and gentlemen. If you guys have a question, this is your stage manager.” I was, “Oh man!” He just laid it out there on me like that. So, that was where I felt like, “Crap! This is the time to step it up. You need to immediately” Sure enough, I had to step it up a lot because the church was divided into 2 sections. There was a Spanish and an English side. So, imagine trying to do setup for English… Think about it. You came in and you would do a setup for the Spanish side, speakers, PA systems, drums, everything and boom you’re done and having to run across campus to do their English side right after. Luckily, I had help to do it for that night. That was definitely one of those times when I had to step it up and sure enough the pastor and the son were impressed and they loved it.
JD: What other advice would you give others who are trying to break through into the business?
JP: I would have to say, “Never give up.” Never give up no matter what others say. No matter what come your way or what crosses your path. No matter how many haters you wind up gaining because that comes with the territory. I think it’s never give up. Stay focused on what you set yourself up to do. Then never quit because from what I’ve learned…Whenever things are not going right, that’s when your breakthrough is going to happen.
You can check out DJ Joseph Pollack’s website at Omnisevents.wordpress.com or contact him at 818-849-9971 or 818-835-4108.