Behind the Beats: DJ Ruckus

November 11, 2014 By:
Behind the Beats: DJ Ruckus
Image By: dGi Management

Hailed by GQ as "the most sought after DJ in the world," DJ Ruckus has never moved slowly in establishing himself as the premiere open-format deejay. At sixteen years old, just two years after receiving turntables as a birthday gift, Ruckus was headlining the biggest nightclubs in his native Miami. By the following year, while just a junior in high school, Ruckus was behind the turntables at Diddy's lavish birthday bash in Morocco and performing his signature fusion of hip-hop, rock, electro, house, soul, funk, and reggae around the globe.

Today, Ruckus plays upwards of 200 shows per year including more than twenty at Hakkasan in Las Vegas where he has been a resident since the club's opening in 2013. His clientele includes a legion of loyal celebrity fans including his cousin Lenny Kravitz, Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Kanye West, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Lopez, Naomi Campbell, and Shaquille O'Neal, all of whom hire Ruckus to spin at their private parties.

Get to know more about DJ Ruckus:


When and how did you first decide music was your life?

When I was born I came out doing dance moves like the boog-a-loo and the re-run. So I figured that was probably it!  Honestly, when I was around 17 years old, I had been DJing for about 2-3 years and already started getting attention to play big gigs in other cities outside of Miami where I lived.  I think that's when I realized this would be long term.


Who gave you your biggest break in music and how?

Dallas Austin gave me my first writing/publishing deal and first big song placement with Janet Jackson.  I'm so thankful for all he did. I'm sure there are a ton of people that would say the same about him.  As far as DJing I'd have to give my brother Jovar credit for that!


What equipment do you use for production? What about DJing?

For production I use an Apple laptop and desktop, midi keyboards from Novation, Apogee Interface, Mackie Big Knob and MPK Midi Pad just in case. 

DJing I have 2 different riders depending on the type of event/club I'm doing. For more private events I'm using 2 Technic turntables + 1 Pioneer CDJ 2000, which I always have for samples and my signature guitar whammy-bar effect I do.  When I'm playing clubs, festivals, big room stuff I'm playing on 3 Pioneer CDJ 2000's.  I always use the Pioneer DJM 900 mixer and Serato Scratch Live with either setup (not that new Serato DJ crap that's blasphemy I will convert back to vinyl or Rekord Box and Traktor before I participate in that!)



What's the toughest part of the DJ lifestyle and how do you deal with it?

Traveling so much gets really tiring. I play what I call hop-scotch on the globe.  I'm not really sure how I deal with it to be honest - it's just part of the job and I sometimes you have to suck it up.  I've gotten used to sleeping on flights and living out of a bag.  

Keeping up with every genre of music for every occasion is probably the hardest part.  That's the 24 hour job other people don't see.  Training your brain to remember so much music and stay innovative and interesting when everyone pretty much has the same tools that you do.  Work on edits and comb the blogs and music stores as much as you can, then when it's showtime you Frank Sinatra and do it your way!


How would you describe your process of creating a song from start to finish?

I like to start by trying to hear my idea/inspiration first by whistling and/or beat boxing a lot of times.  It's the concept of what will be said or a vocal sample or music sample, then I build around it. I get a loop rocking then add drums. I time the drums to the sample once I find a pattern and simple section that I like. Then start paying attention to the uniqueness of the effect on the sounds, which is typically more when using synth leads or guitar leads. As soon as that sound stands out, I start paying attention to the arrangement and overall mix. And so on and so forth I'm not big on writing but I do like helping perfect writing I'm decent with clearing space and finding timing for words. that comes from knowing the words to every damn rap record you can imagine.


Who has been your biggest inspiration musically? 

Very few things I hear don't inspire me in some way, but the greats are the greats and they have all been helpful.  I can tell you many artists that I love but there is no one largest inspiration as a DJ.  DJ AM and Mark Ronson were definitely important figures to me as I was developing but over the years that answer has changed and grown.


What's the one song you love playing in your set right now?

"Faded" by ZHU is my favorite right now, other than of course my record "We Rage" ft. Jermaine Dupri.


dGi Management


Who is your favorite up and coming artist right now?

I like the band Sylvan Esso. I really like Makonnen and Young Thug too.


What's the one food you always include in your rider?

There is only one food on my rider - Tequila!


Where do you see electronic music going in the next 5 years?

Oh boy, that's tough to say.  Right now it is getting back into deep house - soulful house elements and 90's vibe.  I'm also seeing a bit of a merge with rock n roll and folk - the song Fade Out Lines by The Avener is a good example of this. Disclosure is another good example.  What they are doing will last due to good song writing and a digestible vibe.  Otherwise I think the big-room EDM sound is beginning to fade out.  We are going to watch electronic elements fuse into all genres of music, which I think will alter what is considered "electronic music" and broaden the horizons of what genres we can play and incorporate when DJING or making electronic music.  


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