“Five minutes. Four minutes. Three minutes. Two minutes. One minute. Time’s up. Get off the stage.”
Senior Dylan Doskicz’s big shot to exhibit his abilities as a DJ at the 2016 Mad Decent Block Party ended in disappointment as he was given five minutes to set up, perform, and get off the stage. Technical difficulties, however, prevented him from showing the crowd of 7,000 people what he knew he was capable of doing. Even with the large crowd hyped up, all Doskicz could hear in his ears during those pressure-filled moments was the voice of one of the stage managers counting down his precious time on stage until it was finally up.
As he went backstage and mulled over his missed opportunity, he heard a different voice.
He saw that voice was coming from world-renowned DJ and producer, Diplo, and quickly realized that Diplo was trying to get his attention.
“Yo, you got to use a USB. The computer doesn’t work like that,” Diplo said. ”It happens all the time, don’t worry about it.”
Doskicz was amazed by the compassion shown by the EDM icon as he tried to explain to him how to fix an issue of that nature for the next time it happened. They talked for around five minutes, but after his dad met Diplo a few weeks later, Doskicz even learned that Diplo still remembered him as the “USB kid.”
Doskicz used his mistake at Mad Decent as a learning experience and a confidence booster.
“Even though I messed it up, I knew I could do it. Once you get that taste, you can’t get it out of your mouth and you want to chase that,” Doskicz said. “When I was on top of that stage in front of 7,000 people I really thought that I can do this and that I’m meant to be here. I realized I was never going back now.”
But Doskicz’s journey to become a full-time DJ did not begin there. His DJ roots originated right here in the State College community. Penn State is where he discovered this path.
As a freshman, Doskicz often attended fraternity parties. When he observed the DJs, he was left unimpressed. He knew he could do better.
Doskicz started with just a basic DJ program on his laptop and an AUX cord as he had prior experience at smaller fraternities like Sigma Tau and Sigma Nu. From there, he began working his way up to larger fraternities and house parties during the course of his freshman and sophomore years at Penn State.
In the spring of his junior year, Doskicz went on a study abroad trip to Rome, Italy. This is where everything changed for him. Since he went there with a minimal amount of coursework to do, he had a chance to check out the local club scene. When he witnessed it, he again thought that he could outperform the DJs he heard.
So Doskicz contacted club promoters there and let them know that he was available to do a free audition with the possibility of future work if they liked what they heard. He was granted this opportunity. In Europe, Doskicz played in venues ten times the size of what he played in at Penn State. There, he was supplemented by light shows and smoke cannons as he performed in multi-story buildings. Though it may seem daunting, it was just another challenge for the rising DJ.
One of the bigger challenges he faced while overseas was the vast difference in musical taste.
“In Europe it’s EDM-Latin. Here I can do hip-hop, EDM, and a lot more since they don’t really do hip-hop over there. So I had to learn a whole new base of music, a whole new style, and it was difficult at first,” Doskicz said. “Luckily there were some girls [in the study abroad program]who taught me about the Latin music popular in the area. It took me two, three weeks to sit down and really study it. I studied it more than I did for my actual classes.”
Not only was the young artist experimenting with a whole new genre of music, but he was also working with professional equipment for the first time too. “When I first DJ’ed at a club in Rome I had to use turntables and I had never used turntables. That’s something that takes years to master and I had to learn it on the fly. That was very hard to do,” Doskicz said. “You can do things with a computer, but with a board you can do way more. Once I got comfortable with the board, it was a complete game changer.”
Doskicz impressed the promoters enough to give him spots in four clubs in Rome both during the weekdays and on the weekend. At some clubs he was making €200-300 per night and was even invited back to perform if he ever returned to Italy. The enthusiasm he received from the European crowds really ignited his confidence.
“Using the clubs’ equipment, the actual board and turntables, completely made me realize that this was something I want to do and something I can master,” Doskicz said. “So when I got back from Europe, that’s when I realized that I can make this more than a hobby and chase after it.”
With a future career as a DJ clear in his sights, it is safe to say that DJ ‘Dosk’ emerged in Rome.
The DJ realized how tough the grind would be. That’s why when he returned from Europe he finally invested in professional equipment and started producing his own music — while helping his friends out with their mixtapes too. “You always have to think about how you can make this last. Anyone can learn how to DJ, so that’s why I started getting into production. I wanted to know how I could make this a real career. The only way to do that is to make your own music,” Doskicz said.
Doskicz also heard that the Lion’s Den was looking for a DJ, so he talked to the owners last semester which led to an audition. After a successful debut, they gave him a full-time gig on Thursday nights. Some Thursday night specials that Doskicz brought to Lion’s Den have been hits like “Drake Night,” “Throwback Thursday,” and “Throne Thursday.” Additionally, Dosk is a freelance DJ on the weekends.
One of the more unique experiences that Doskicz has had on this journey has been DJ’ing Arab parties at The Retreat in State College. “[Arabic music] is another type of music that I had to really learn,” Doskicz said. “I’ve never listened to it and they wanted me to combine Arabic with hip-hop, so I had to try and make it work. They were awesome to party with though and that first time was very funny. When I did it I was just hoping they would like what I played and it turned out they loved it. If they were happy, I was happy.”
Some artists Doskicz really admires and listens to a lot are Martin Garrix, The Chainsmokers, Skrillex, DJ Snake, and Diplo. He particularly admires The Chainsmokers’ approach because the duo features more unknown talent on vocals in their songs and that allows those vocalists to become more prominent through the collaboration.
In addition, Doskicz has a very unique connection to the hip-hop industry since his dad was a sound engineer for The Roots and Erykah Badu. Right now Doskicz has a variety of remixes out, but he is trying to have his first original song out before this summer hits. His vision is specific for how he wants his original music to sound.
“I’m trying to mash hip-hop and EDM because I grew up on a hip-hop base. So basically, I want to take a song like Closer by The Chainsmokers and add a rap verse to it and make it all work,” Doskicz said. “If someone could master that it would be crazy because it would be a whole new genre and it creates a music experience that a wider range of audience can enjoy. It’s hard because the two genres are very different, but my goal is to make that type of music.”
In the future, Doskicz hopes to separate himself from other DJs through his entertainment value.
“I would think of myself as an entertainer first. So I make sure you are entertained. Like I want to do things during the show that makes people think that they want to go to a Dosk show,” Doskicz said. “You have DJs like Diplo and Baauer with all the lights and stuff, but I want to do something beyond that. Look at what Kanye did with his floating stage—that’s something I don’t think has been done before.”
Doskicz is currently a business major hoping to go to law school in Philadelphia as a “side-gig” while he looks for opportunities in the city that lead towards becoming a full-time DJ. He recently hosted an event in Philadelphia over New Year’s, and will have another event at MonarchPhilly this summer during the first weekend of June. He’s excited to see the energy he can bring to the bigger crowds in Philly. “I like packed atmospheres because when it’s packed that’s when I thrive. I can really see the energy. That’s why I love doing what I do,” Doskicz said. “When you control energy that’s a great feeling. You control everyone’s hip movements, everyone’s emotions, and that’s very unique and cool to experience a feeling like that.”
DJ Dosk can currently be found at Lion’s Den on Thursday nights. Come check him out if you get a chance.