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DJ Severe at Dogers Stadium in Los Angeles. (Photo source: Instagram)
Los Angeles’ DJ Severe is proof that hard work and persistence pays off. In 2009, the veteran party rocker began DJing at the Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium. Eventually, he worked his way up to being the team’s in-game DJ. Now, eight years later, Severe is energizing the Dodgers and their fans as they battle the Houston Astros in the World Series. He also serves as the official DJ for the Ontario Reign hockey team.
We spoke with Severe about his job and asked him to share his World Series playlist with us.
How did you become the Dodgers’ DJ?
In 2009, a friend of mine who managed the Dugout Club at Dodger Stadium brought me in to spin during the playoffs. Other venues had heard of me and wanted to use me instead of the DJ they had been using who was becoming a pre-Madonna. At the time the DJ was allowed one parking space, but he wanted two and a raise. I made it happen with one parking space and a trailer for four setups and four DJs. Eventually, this led to me working with the Dodgers at premiere events. Soon after, I was spinning at the Dodgers Christmas party and an individual who later became my boss asked me to email him the typical DJ airhorn sound. When I shot him the email, I asked if there were any openings. He said: “As a matter of fact, we’re looking for a DJ for all the home games. Are you interested?” I said “no doubt.” I interviewed and beat out all the other applicants because I was familiar with the Dodgers fans, having spun at all the events from the Dugout Club to the upper deck. And I was a real DJ, not just someone who plays music. They wanted a non-stadium sound, and eight years later I’m still here and in the World Series.
How does DJing at a sporting event differ from DJing at a club or bar?
The biggest difference is knowing your sport and your freedoms from management. You need to know how to walk the line safely and slowly work your sound in. All your music content has to be squeaky clean and fit the flow of the game. There’s probably just as many requests, but they’re based on the weather and what people think are the most simplistic tracks as possible. When the team sucks, you can’t always keep the energy or heads nodding. I believe you need intelligible lyrics, horns, and a bottom beat that forces you to nod no matter what type of music it is.
Do you change your approach during the playoffs?
Only to freshen things up with new tracks. I try to not overuse songs from artists like Bruno Mars. Sometimes I have 10 games in a row so it can get pretty repetitive if I’m not careful. But if it works, it works.
What are some of your go-to tracks?
This year they’ve been Kendrick Lamar‘s “Humble.” and “DNA“, DJ Khaled, Rihanna, and Bryson Tiller‘s “Wild Thoughts,” all the Calvin Harris tracks (“Feels” is my favorite track of the year), and a few hidden tracks like Big Daddy’s “Booty Sweat,” Roulsen’s “Rumble,” and Timmy Trumpet and Savage‘s “Freaks.” Also West Coast hip-hop and ’90s tracks.
Do you get requests from players?
All the time. I’m pretty hands-on as opposed to DJs from the past who had no contact with the players. I know them all and spend two days in the spring chopping it up with them about music. They make their own selections, but they ask for my opinion.
What’s your process for adding new tracks to your playlist?
I look for tracks that thump and have good house energy, not the fist-pumping songs that take too long to rise. Also, tracks that aren’t too in-your-face, something with a nice beat and horns.
What is the toughest part about being a DJ for a professional sports team?
Knowing your audience and what will work without making it about you and your favorite music or what’s hot. Most tracks don’t work in sports, especially baseball. It’s a super sensitive sport with a lot of tradition.
Severe’s World Series playlist
2Pac ft. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman – California Love
50 Cent – If I Can’t
50 Cent – In Da Club
A Tribe Called Quest – Bonita Applebum
A Tribe Called Quest – 1nce Again
Ape Drums ft. Dougie F – Go Crazy
Beatnuts ft. Big Punisher & Cuban Link – Off The Books
Big Daddy’s – Booty Sweat
Bingo Players – No. 1 Disco
Calvin Harris ft. Pharrell Williams, Katy Perry, & Big Sean – Feels
Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, & Nate Dogg – The Next Episode
Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo – Bailar
Fitz and The Tantrums – HandClap
Jason Derulo – Get Ugly
Kendrick Lamar – DNA
Kendrick Lamar – ELEMENT.
Kendrick Lamar – Humble.
Nas – Made You Look
Calvin Harris ft. Ne-Yo – Let’s Go
Party Favor ft. Keno – Wiggle Wop
Skee-Lo – I Wish
Steve Aoki, Chris Lake, & Tujamo – Boneless
The Notorious B.I.G. – Going Back To Cali
The Notorious B.I.G. – Who Shot Ya?
The Pharcyde – Passin’ Me By
The Pharcyde – Runnin’
Timmy Trumpet ft. Savage – Freaks
Tinie Tempah ft. Zara Larsson – Girls Like
Ummet Oscan – Raise Your Hands Up
Vince Staples ft. Juicy J – Big Fish
Volume 10 – Pistol Grip Pump