Interview: Brian Dawe


Brian Dawe has been active in the nightlife scene for 13 years as an open-format DJ working with both local and national clients such as Orlando Weekly, The Food Network, L’Oreal Paris Professional, eBay Motors, Sprint and Hewlett Packard and has earned awards and accolades including runner-up for the 2010 Southeastern Red Bull Thre3style and top nightclub DJ by readers of Orlando Weekly. Dawe has had presence at Ultra Music Festival, is an Official Crooklyn Clan DJ, and most recently, a cast member of VH1’s premiere season of Master of the Mix. Brian continues to educate young men about testicular cancer awareness as an official spokesman for the Sean Kimerling Testicular Cancer Foundation.

How did you get into DJing and producing?
When I was a kid I wanted to become an on air radio personality. My father rigged together a little FM transmitter so that I could broadcast on the FM frequency in my neighborhood. As I got older I got interested in DJ culture and when I was 17 I made the best investment of my life: two used Gemini turntables and an old Radio Shack mixer that I purchased for $200 at the local pawnshop. I went home and played for what felt like days. I was exposed to electronic music for the first time, and spent most of my time buying the vinyl [records] at the local record store.  I dove head first into the rave scene, playing any event I could. Shortly thereafter, I began getting residencies at local spots around town. Producing, however, is a whole different animal. I got more into remixing tracks about 7 years ago. I always wanted to be a part of the Crooklyn Clan roster, and I finally achieved that goal a little over a year ago.

Who were some of your inspirations?
I think a lot of DJs look up to DJ AM, and I am no different. He changed my life. I remember when I heard his Power106 mix for the first time. I was driving in my car, and I was so blown away and excited by what I was hearing I had to pull my car over on the side of the road. I could not believe what this guy was doing technically, and how diverse his track selection was. He went into an all hip-hop radio station and played EVERYTHING from classic rock to oldies. DJ AM pioneered open format deejaying and paved the way for guys like me.

How are you able to set yourself apart from other DJs?
I think what sets me apart from other DJs is my ability to understand any crowd that is put in front of me. Additionally, my custom remixes and edits are a huge asset. Sometimes I will get on the mic and get the crowd involved with my music.  I love getting the crowd hyped and energized!

What is it like being a cast member on VH1′s Master of the Mix?
Challenging! Being surrounded by such incredible talent was an amazing and inspiring experience. As soon as I arrived on set and walked into the room with the other contestants I immediately knew it would be a difficult road to being crowned “Master Of The Mix,” but I was up for the challenge.

Since being on the show (Master of the Mix), has your life changed?
The show taught me so much about myself, and my passion for my career. I felt like I really found myself as an artist and performer while competing in the contest. I think a lot of DJs in their mid 20s really struggle with the thought of what they will do after DJ life. Being on this show helped cement the “career mentality” about DJing in my mind. I know now that DJing is my career, regardless of what age I am, and I have learned to accept, own, and be proud of that. I had been traveling pretty extensively before I was on the show, doing guest spots at clubs across the country. Being on Master Of The Mix has created an even higher demand for me to play shows, so it looks like I won’t be getting a break anytime soon. I am definitely racking up those sky miles!

How did you get involved with the world-famous Crooklyn Clan?
I had been making bootlegs and remixes for about 6 years before I was finally picked up by (‘s sister site) about two years ago. I spent many sleepless nights perfecting my remixing skills and rose to the number one sales spot on Crack4DJs after a few short months on the site. After three straight months at the number one spot Crooklyn Clan took notice and decided to move me over to their site. I had wanted to be a Crooklyn Clan artist for many years, so I was very excited when I finally achieved that goal.

What is the best part of life as a DJ?
Travel! I am so blessed to be able to visit so many parts of the country that I may have otherwise never seen. In the last year I have seen Los Angeles, Dallas, Miami, Indianapolis, and many other great cities. I am currently about 30,000 feet in the air on my way back from Nashville, which was also a beautiful city and amazing trip! Every trip has a memory, and I have met some great people. I also love meeting new people! I am very social and have made friends all over the country thanks to this lifestyle that my career has given me. Obviously another great feeling is to be able to play in front of a large crowd that appreciates and enjoys what I am doing.  Ten years ago I was playing much smaller venues, so to be able to be recognized for my talent nationwide now is very exciting.

What is the worst part?
The worst part is the sleep schedule! I have always been a night owl, but in some cities I will be finished playing at 2am, others 6am, and then other times I have played until the sun comes up! It is hard to maintain an average sleep schedule between travel and the various set times that I have.  It is very rare that I am awake before 1pm.

You’ve had the opportunity to travel around the country doing what you love, where is one place or event in the world you love to DJ?
Of all the places I have played the love I got in my hometown of Orlando, FL has so far been the best. I had the pleasure of playing the UCF [University of Central Florida] Arena in Orlando a couple of times and it is always a huge thrill! One event that stands out is “Knight Rave”, which I was honored to headline in front of about 4,000 UCF students. Go Knights!

What is the difference between a touring DJ and a good club DJ? What advice would you give to aspiring DJs who want to travel the world DJing?
I think there are a lot of very good club DJs out there that should be touring the country, but might not have had the opportunity to showcase themselves on a large scale yet. My advice to aspiring touring DJs would be to continue pushing out a product. Mixtapes, remixes, original productions, anything that you can give to people to build a fan base is a plus. Also network with your hometown promoters and try to get on a bill opening for a larger artist. That will give you the opportunity to get new fans when you open up for artists with an already established fan base. Be persistent, but not annoying. Finally, don’t give up! Overnight success is very rare. I have been at it for 13 years, and still have a long ways to go to be where I want to be with my career.

Can you tell us something that many people don’t know about you?
I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2008.  Thankfully, I was cured after surgery and months of chemotherapy. As a survivor, I would like to raise awareness for the testicular cancer community. I am a proud spokesperson for the Sean Kimerling Testicular Cancer Foundation (, named after a well-known and charismatic sports anchor in the New York area that passed away from testicular cancer in 2003 at the young age of 37. The cure rate is very high if detected early, so I just want young guys to know that talking about testicular cancer and issues with that part of the body isn’t anything to be ashamed of. Check your balls, guys!

You are an inspiration to many people being a cancer survivor. How has that changed your outlook on life?
I always tell people that having cancer was the best thing that ever happened to me. It was scary, obviously, to go through something like that, but it taught me to appreciate my life and not take anything for granted. Since I am so passionate about my career, I wanted to make sure I followed through with my dreams after I was cured. I didn’t want to go down any other path in my life. I knew when I was cured that my dreams of being a successful DJ had to come true, and I dedicated myself to being successful from that point forward. I lost my Father to pancreatic cancer in 2005, and he always said to me “plan your work, and work your plan”, so I planned out my path to success after my cure and have been working that plan ever sense.

What is in your DJ bag?
A mess of cables! Haha! When my DJ bag is actually clean and organized it has my 15″ MacBook Pro, as well as my 13″ MacBook with an external hard drive back up of all my Serato crates. My biggest nightmare is being at an out of town gig and having a laptop hard drive failure, or some kind of issue with my laptop, so I always travel with a backup hard drive and backup laptop. I also have an Akai MPD26 that I use for loop rolls, samples, and built in Serato effects. Of course I also have my Serato control vinyl, Serato control CDs, and laptop stand as well as miscellaneous cables. I always try to come to my gigs as prepared as possible.

Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
In 5 years I will not be letting up one bit! A big thing for me has been accepting that deejaying is a career decision. When I was in my early 20s and not as successful as I am today I was constantly asked, “What will you do when you are thirty? Still DJ?” Well, the answer is YES! I am a professional DJ, it is my career and I have no intentions of switching industries regardless of my age. At some point I am sure I will have my hand in more business ventures involving the music and nightclub industry, but for now I am staying focused on the music and the future.

Follow Brian Dawe (Orlando, FL)
Vine: @DJBrianDawe

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