In 2000, Skillz dropped an album for the legendary indie hip-hop label, Rawkus Records. The project featured the likes of Missy Elliot and CeeLo. By that time, Skillz had also been working as a ghostwriter, penning tracks for stars like Diddy and Will Smith.
Portable Phone Charger
“This is a must-have whenever I travel. It’s a no-brainer.”
Backup Hard Drive
“I have a drive that I back up with Carbon Copy Cloner so if I ever have a computer problem I can plug the drive into any computer and still play a set. And not only will I have all my music on the computer I’m playing with, but it will also look exactly like mine.”
“I’m old school in this manner: sometimes I actually like to write things down that come to me. I could put them in my notes on my phone, but there’s just something about seeing them in my actual handwriting. It’s everything from mix ideas, transitions, bookings, and things I have planned.”
“I like to capture moments and not be intrusive at the same time. The GoPro HERO3+ has never let me down for pictures and video.”
“They just work for me. They’re lighter, and they fit in my bag better than the 12 inches. They also stand up to normal wear and tear. I love them.”
Related: A-Trak: Must-Have Items in My DJ Bag
A-Trak is one of the busiest DJs on the planet. From performing live and producing music to running his Fool’s Gold label, Days Off festival, and Goldie Awards, the Montreal native puts in a lot of miles. Given all of his experience, which includes serving as Kanye West‘s DJ in the mid-2000s, A-Trak has become an authority in the DJ community. People from around the world pay heed to his advice and opinions on the art of DJing, DJ technology, etc.
“This is my greatest discovery in recent years. I always want to have every imaginable cord or adaptor with me on the road. I’ve had so many emergencies. You’re overseas, and you suddenly need to boot one laptop in Target Mode from your other laptop. Or you forgot that your backup drive uses a different kind of port than what your new laptop has. Or you somehow need to use an ethernet jack. You need all these emergency cords, but how do you actually pack them? This Grid-It thing is the most zen-like order that I’ve ever had with my cords and adaptors.”
Comme Des Garçons Travel Wallet
“This Comme Des Garçons wallet has been my travel companion for a long time. It’s where I keep my frequent flier cards and any random reward program cards, and I can stick my passport in it when I don’t need it. I can even keep a few foreign currencies in it too. None of this needs to be in your regular wallet.”
“Airplanes are your skin’s worst enemy. Keeping up a few little habits can make a world of difference. No one wants to be told ‘you look tired,’ or feel their own skin turn into leather. I like this mist because hey, who doesn’t like Tibetan ginseng?”
“I used to carry the classic blue Shure needle case, but it’s kind of big. Then we made this smaller Fool’s Gold case with Stokyo. It’s way more portable. I also love how it has a little compartment where you can keep spare styli.”
The Bag Within the Bag
“As DJs we travel the world to secure the bag. So it’s important to have a good bag strategy. I always carry-on, I’d say 98% percent of the time. It’s extremely rare that I check something in. So the bag I travel with is bigger, but that doesn’t mean I’ll bring that to my gigs. That’s where you need a bag within your bag. Going to gigs with only a tote bag has changed my life.”
The Chainsmokers at XS Nightclub in Las Vegas on Feb. 3, 2017. (Source: Facebook)
The Chainsmokers have been on fire since their 2014 breakout hit, “#Selfie.” Along with releasing follow-up hits like “Don’t Let Me Down,” “Closer,” and “Something Just Like This,” the duo has been touring the world and holding down a residency at Las Vegas’ XS Nightclub. With all their globetrotting, it’s safe to say the ‘smokers know a thing or two about traveling.
Check out their must-have travel items below.
“It’s the amazing sampling gadget we have been using in a lot of our songs. It’s super small and convenient to travel with.”
“Do we even really need to explain? You got the new iPhone update your sh#t is dying instantly.”
“This is sort of self-explanatory, but man we got like 10,000 of these. The trick is to go for the memory foam.”
“Nothing is worse than getting to another country and not having the right power adapter.”
Kittens / Instagram
As a member of A-Trak‘s influential Fool’s Gold family, Los Angeles DJ/producer Kittens stays busy rocking parties around the world. She is also a member of Athletixx, an LA collective that includes Hoodboi, Falcons, and Promnite.
When she’s not DJing or working on music, Kittens hosts a series of non-profit DJ workshops for women (all proceeds donated to local women’s shelters). Her in-depth musical knowledge enables her to engage all kinds of crowds, from exclusive Hollywood hip-hop parties to cutting-edge dance and electronic events. She is currently on tour with RL Grime.
Check out her must-have travel items below.
“If I’ve learned anything from DJing over the years, it’s that equipment can and will break, no matter how prepared or fancy the venue is. So having simple things to swap out in case of an emergency is helpful. I always have the following: a couple of USBs (some with music and rekordbox loaded, others with the Serato timecode); an RCA to RCA cord (I can’t tell you how many times there’s been some odd sound issue that ended up being a faulty RCA cord); a USB-A male to -B male a.k.a. printer cable a.k.a. the cable that connects the Serato box to your computer (this is one of those cords that you won’t easily find laying around at a club and a very important one to have in perfect working condition. Always carry a backup).”
“It gets hot on stages and in booths nine out of 10 times. I like having a little fan for emergency cooldown use and also because it makes me feel like a sassy bitch.”
“Like I said before, it gets hot up there. Stay fresh, everyone.”
Gum and Listerine Strips
“No fan wants to meet you after you play and smell whiskey while you speak.”
“I have a tiny bag within my DJ bag that has hair ties, hair pins, concealer, chapstick, a small hairbrush, face powder, and eyeliner. Sometimes your perfectly made-up face and hair can get messed up during a sweaty, jumping around performance. If you want to make sure you look halfway cute in photos with fans or while you’re hanging out after your set, you gotta be prepared to do a little touch-up.”
If you’re a subscriber to DJcity’s record pool, chances are you’ve seen KidCutUp‘s bootlegs, edits, and remixes. The Wisconsin native’s tracks regularly make it on DJcity’s Top 50 chart and have been supported by everyone from Diplo and DJ Khaled to Vice and Z-Trip. Now based in Los Angeles, CutUp currently holds it down at The Dime and Harlowe Bar on Mondays and Thursdays, respectively. He also gigs a lot in the Midwest. Last weekend, he opened up for Pink at Milwaukee’s Summerfest in front of a 25,000-strong crowd.
Check out his must-have travel items below.
1/8″ to RCA Cable
“You never know when you’ll have to plug in your phone for a laptop switchover or because of a sound issue. And if a venue has all the wrong gear, I can DJ a set off my phone if necessary. I never want to be unable to rock!”
Backstage Pass Lanyard
“Sometimes you get a laminated pass that’s just loose. Other times you need to look official without explaining to every security guy that you are official. Having a stack of passes around your neck can help.”
“I carry a small light with a hook and magnet on it to attach to it things or position it in the booth. Being able to see the knobs and faders on the mixer is essential especially if the lights in the booth are moving around as much as they are on the dance floor.”
Backup Hard Drive or Flash Drive
“If my laptop goes down, I can plug in my backup drive into any available computer and make the show happen. If you don’t play the show, you don’t get the money. Don’t let that happen to you!”
Kid Conrad is a veteran open-format DJ based in Las Vegas. When he’s not holding it down in spots like 1 OAK and Rehab, Conrad can be rocking clubs in San Diego and San Francisco like Parq and Infusion. Below are five must-have items that he always carries in his DJ bag.
“This is a book of lyrics from the lead singer of the English indie rock band, Bloc Party. I was, and still am, a die-hard Bloc Party fan and like to read their lyrics when I’m on the road.”
“Milk thistle has been a close companion of mine for some time now. It’s a must-have for drinkers.”
Promo CDs and Stickers
“I have these in case someone asks! I always like to have something to give out at my gigs.”
“Hair ties are crucial when your hair is as long as mine.”
My Aunt’s Obituary
“My aunt always pushed me and had faith in me. I’m not the most religious guy, but I have to keep her with me at all times especially when I travel. I feel like she keeps me safe.”
As Music Director, Satoru is a key part of DJcity UK‘s team. The Newcastle native is also an active club DJ and can be found rocking clubs from England to Japan on a regular basis. Below are five essential items that he always carries in his DJ bag.
“I prefer HID mode over control CDs, so this is essential for connecting CDJs to my laptop. It’s quite compact, and I can charge my phone at the same time, too.”
“Clubs are loud, and you probably sip on liquor when you’re there. When it comes to exchanging words with another human being, proximities get close and so does your breath. Keep it fresh!”
“We’ve all been there: you walk into the club only to find that all of the fader caps on the mixer are missing. It’s a nightmare. It doesn’t happen to me very much anymore, but I bring caps just in case.”
“Who needs a GoPro? Clip this baby onto your iPhone and get some dope wide-angle shots of the club and crowd.”
“If I’m in another city or have a loose schedule, I usually stick around the club and have a jolly good ‘ole time after my set. Hotel checkout times aren’t hangover-friendly, so it’s handy to have some painkillers around for the morning. Be prepared!”
Big Syphe at Wall Lounge in Miami Beach, Florida on Aug. 7, 2015. (credit: World Red Eye)
When you’re the tour DJ for an artist known as “Mr. Worldwide,” you learn a thing or two about traveling. A native of Los Angeles, Big Syphe first made a name for himself as a host on Power 106 FM. Years later, he was recruited by Pitbull to serve as his DJ on a world tour. During this time, the Angeleno had also made his mark as a producer, having remixed for superstars like Lady Gaga, Enrique Iglesias, and of course, Mr. Worldwide. Now focused on his solo career, Syphe can be found rocking clubs from coast to coast and beyond. Check out his must-have travel items below.
“I always travel with two pillows. I put one on the back of my neck and the other on my lower back. They make my travels very comfy! If you get stuck sitting in the middle seat on a plane, then you definitely want two pillows. Trust me!”
“I can’t forget my iPad. It’s always a must for me because I never watch TV or go to the movies while I’m home, so I download my shows and watch them on my flights. But I always end up falling asleep! There goes the $50 I spent on iTunes! [laughs]”
Advil or Tylenol
“If you’re a DJ who loves to drink and wild out at your gigs, then you should always carry two of either of these pills. I always take two before I go to bed. That way, when I wake up, I just have a minor headache and my travel day is better than it should be.”
Portable Battery Packs
“Another item I can’t forget! My phone and iPad can usually last on five-hour flights, but I always bring two chargers with me for longer trips.”
“I don’t think I have to explain this one: You don’t want to have some stank-ass breath when you travel. I always buy two packs of gum at the airport.”
J. Espinosa at Fluxx Nightclub in San Diego on Sept. 24, 2016 (via Facebook)
From holding down the airwaves at Los Angeles’ Power 106 and San Francisco’s 99.7 NOW! to rocking clubs and Oakland Raiders games, J. Espinosa is one California’s busiest DJs. The Bay Area native is also an accomplished battle DJ, having won the Red Bull Thre3style US Championship in 2015. Check out his five must-have travel items below.
Serato Control Vinyl, Red Bull Thre3style Edition
“I got a pair of really dope white control vinyl when I was in Japan last year for the Red Bull Thre3style World Finals. I barely ever use them, but just having them in my bag reminds me of my accomplishment.”
Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing Sheets
“What can I say? Sometimes I be greasy. I can’t be in pictures looking like I just jumped out a french fry basket!”
“I have a phone charger that never leaves my bag.”
“I can’t focus if my fingernails get too long. I get self-conscious about them, so I always keep some nail trimmers with me!”
Jason Markk Quick Wipes
“I gotta keep my kicks fresh when I’m on the road, and we all know that your shoes are gonna to get stepped on at least 89 times when you run to the restroom during your set. These wipes work great for on-the-go touch-ups if you’re a neat freak like me.”
Related: DJ Zo: Must-Have Items in My DJ Bag
DJ Zo performs at Spam N Eggs in Los Angeles on Sept. 16, 2016. (source: Facebook)
From exclusive events at SoHo House to underground parties at The Line Hotel and Spam N Eggs, DJ Zo covers a lot of ground with his residencies. It seems like the Los Angeles party rocker and turntablist is always performing somewhere, including quarterly gigs in Asia. Zo is also a guest mixer on DJcityTV, where he hosts a monthly mix series. Below are his five must-have items that he always carries in his DJ bag.
“Thank you to my boy Kutcorners for putting me on to these. I can’t use any other records now because these are way slippy! You can really throw the record for those New York-style spinback mix-outs when you combine these with Thud Rumble’s Butter Rugs or D-Styles’ Table Cloth slipmats.”
“Big ups to Chuck from STOKYO for hooking this up. I also have Shure’s blue cartridge case (the old school version with all four needles on the bottom). I prefer the Black Box because it has a secret compartment for extra styluses, screws, needle brushes, and other things.”
“These programs are a must if you fly often. With PreCheck, you don’t have to wait in the unbearable security line, take off your shoes, and take your laptop out of your bag. With Global Entry, you can skip the long customs line when returning to the US from abroad. Go straight to the computer, scan your card, and you’ll pass through customs in less than 20 minutes. You can apply online for both, but you’ll need to do in-person interviews at an airport (the interviews are more of a formality; the TSA doesn’t ask you anything substantial).”
“I bring one so I can play requests from girls who come up to me and say, ‘can’t you just play it off my iPhone?’ I also love it when someone comes up and asks, ‘can you charge my phone?’ [jokes] With an AUX cord, you’re always prepared. You never know who’s going to come through the club with some heat straight from the studio.”
“I get funky on the stage: both on the decks and under my arms. Deodorant is necessary, especially if I’m doing back-to-back gigs or after hours events. I use Mitchum’s mountain air scent.”
Related: Trayze: Must-Have Items in My DJ Bag
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