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Name: Adam Bernard
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DJ Semaj - For The Records
Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Those who’ve partaken in Fairfield County’s nightlife scene are already familiar with the work of DJ Semaj, who spent six years behind the turntables at Bravo and donned a mile high mohawk. Both Bravo and the mohawk are gone now, but Semaj is still manning the ones and twos, now spinning at the Ash Creek Saloon in Bridgeport on Fridays and spending two Saturdays a month moving the crowd at Marisa’s in Trumbull. His story, however, starts as youth in Fairfield who couldn’t stay out of his father’s and brother’s record collections.

Inspired by his father’s love of 80’s music and his brother’s love of rock n roll, Semaj found himself attracted to hip-hop thanks to a third influence; a group of local break dancers. “When I was very young, maybe five or six years old, the whole break dancing thing was going on and I remember seeing everybody stealing cardboard from behind Caldors (where Kohls is now) to go breakdance at the car was parking lot. Being a little kid, I wanted to tag along.”

When Semaj hit 15 he formed a goth group, The Black Attic, with some friends, playing the drums and the keyboards. After the group split up he felt a big loss, and wanted to find a way to keep making music. “I decided to buy the PA system,” he remembers, “and I got some old turntables, some old records, some old needles, and a crappy mixer, and decided that I was going to start DJing and practice ever single day in my basement.”

After plenty of practice, and some significant upgrades to his equipment, Semaj would break out of the basement and make his way into the clubs of Fairfield County, highlighting his nights with unique mixes of popular songs with beats the crowd may not have heard before. “Lately I’ve been trying to mix in a lot of David Guetta’s underground stuff with the mainstream music, the Ke$has and the Beyonces and the Jay-Zs and the Lady Gagas, and take the darker beats and mix in the mainstream stuff.”

A big fan of house music, Semaj learned early on the crowds in Connecticut aren’t quite as enthusiastic about the genre as he is. Another distinctive feature of the local scene is that it’s commonplace for people to approach the DJ to make requests. Although it took a little time, Semaj says “I think I’ve grown into a place where I love when someone comes up to me and requests a song. I’ll break their balls a little bit, but then I’ll put it on anyway. When I play the song and they turn around and you get that look and they’re so happy, that’s a reward to me.”

One reward that he doesn’t need is for anyone to buy him a drink, as Semaj gave up the libations nearly three years ago, trading them in for a healthier lifestyle, “so I can keep up the energy to continue performing.”

Semaj also has plans to expand his audience by utilizing a website he’s currently building that will allow music lovers who aren’t old enough to get into a nightclub to listen to, and even see, his live performances. He’s working on compiling a performance DVD, as well, noting “I want to be able to cater to the kids who are in it for the music.”

Those who are old enough to get by a bouncer can check out Semaj Friday the 23rd at Ash Creek Saloon in Bridgeport and Saturday the 24th at Marisa’s in Trumbull.

Story originally ran in the FairfieldWeekly.

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