An interview with Obama's DJ
The rest of the playlist that night was mostly Mel's own. "They gave me a list of 30 or so songs, but I went through them pretty quickly and dove into my own playlist of songs I love, that I thought were uplifting and fun. I didn't prepare at all, just went with my instincts to turn this thing into a party. You've gotta just pick songs that are relevant to the event and trust what you've got."
OK, so here's a question: What would Mel have played if Obama had lost? "Oh man, I didn't even want to think or ask about that!"
The young Mel, one of the most down-to-earth DJs I've ever spoken with, has plenty of experience and has already experienced a couple cycles of fame, with gigs at Lollapalooza (a clip he posted of the crowd from 2009 makes me giddy with joy), Austin's ACL fest, and several world tours. "I've been through every phase of music, from crazy industrial and acid house to indie rock and freestyle, so I'm confident enough to know I can move the crowd in different situations. But I was traveling so much, I just got tired of touring, of not knowing anyone personally where I was playing. So I kind of dialed back."
That dialing back took the unexpected turn of becoming the house DJ for huge Democratic Party events — first the California convention earlier this year in Sacramento, then the national convention in Charlotte, and now this (no word yet on inauguration dance floor plans, however.) "I have a friend who's really involved in the planning who hooked me up," Mel told me. "I think they realized that the music was becoming a big aspect of these events, especially when there so much waiting around for things to happen, or moments in-between to fill. It's a good way to keep things going and relate to people."
He may have to dial it back up now, though. "There was zero cell phone coverage in the venue at all, because it was overloaded. But as soon as I got out, my phone literally exploded with texts and notifications. My Twitter count jumped a couple 1000. I think people were genuinely shocked that it was an actual DJ at the event. I think beyond what came to me from it, this was a major thing for DJing in general. Turning an event like this into a party, that's kind of a big deal."