DJ Jazzy Jeff shares wisdom
Famed musician talks producing, DJing, life at Sweetwater workshop
DJ Jazzy Jeff was dropping wisdom on producing, DJing, and life during a stop at Sweetwater on Monday night.
Taking part in a free workshop to display Serato and Pioneer DJ products, Jeff, who was half of the hip-hop duo DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince with Will Smith and later played the character Jazz on the sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, gave attendees in the Sweetwater Theatre a demo of Serato Studio followed by a 15-minute performance using Pioneer’s DDJ-Rev7.
Jeff, who admitted this was his first trip to Fort Wayne, quickly accepted an invitation to visit Sweetwater.
“How many of you are old enough to remember the Sears catalog?” he asked. “I used to carry that around with me and lay it out for my parents with all the things circled that I wanted. I do the same thing with the Sweetwater catalog (ProGear).”
After doing an impromptu set, Jeff went on to talk about how life has changed during the pandemic, and how many avenues have opened up for DJs.
“When the (coronavirus) hit, I was one of the first people to get sick, and I was real sick,” he said. “Like, I was close to not being here.”
After overcoming the virus, Jeff said his outlook brightened after getting to know about Twitch, the interactive livestreaming platform. After setting up an account to stream his DJing at home, he quickly realized people were longing to get music.
“I had like 7,000 people watching me that first time,” he said. “I don’t usually play for 7,000 people, and I was in my socks!”
Those logging on to watch him only grew and he now plays twice a week and even has his own app, DJ Jazzy Jeff.
While expanding his online presence, he discovered he was reaching people who would have never seen him before – opening the world of DJing to so many more people.
“I had a guy reach out to me in about July 2020, and said he would have never seen me in a club,” Jeff said. “He said, ‘I graduated high school, enlisted, got married, and had four kids. My lifestyle doesn’t align with going to a club.’”
He also mentioned that livestreaming allows him to be more creative, such as a performance when he used only Yacht Rock.
“I wouldn’t do that at a club,” he said.
And as he sees it, the ease of putting content online is an advantage to all creative people.
Citing the new Peacock show Bel-Air, a dramatic take on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Jeff said creator Morgan Cooper made a 30-second mock trailer re-envisioning the comedic Fresh Prince show as a drama.
“Thirty hours after that went viral, Will Smith was meeting with (Cooper),” he said.