Eleven years in and Montgomery County-born DJ SAAM cites “[having] a pretty good following, being able to bring out people, establish great club nights and play consistently good sets at a high level” as his keys to becoming a well-regarded veteran and area professional. The resident spinner at clubs including DC’s Ultrabar and Midtown, Arlington’s A-Town Bar & Grill and other noted area locations is also one of the headliners for the National ShamrockFest, taking place on March 12 at the RFK Stadium Festival Grounds.
The first two decades of the 21st century have seen a significant uptick in neophytes believing that they have what it takes to reach the success of someone like SAAM. In reference to what it takes to achieve that, or any level of success in the DJ craft, SAAM says, “You have to put in the time. There’s that cliché saying about putting in 10,000 hours of time in order to develop your skills, and to become a good DJ, that’s true. Practicing and listening to other DJ’s sets will allow someone to pick up new techniques and allow their brain to make new connections that can improve their skills.”
SAAM puts an emphasis on something other than matching beats and knowing when to drop the perfect remix.
“It’s important to have great character as a person,” SAAM says. “DJs that are reputable, friendly, nice to staff and patrons, and reliable get booked often.”
SAAM notes that sometimes the success of a gig isn’t as much defined by what music is being played, but who the people are on the dance floor or at the venue. Relaying a story from a recent set at
A-Town Bar & Grill, his fanatical love of sports and his job behind the decks happily collided when a group of players from the Washington Capitals were in the room.
“I was working the Sunday brunch at A-Town, and it’s sometimes a wild party from [noon to midnight], or longer, with three DJs there,” SAAM remembers. “On the Sunday night in question, the entire Washington Capitals team came in. I’m a big sports fan and have been a huge Caps fan my whole life, so I knew their practice facility (Arlington’s Kettler Capitals Iceplex) was directly behind the bar. Nicklas Bäckström and others came into the DJ booth and were partying with me, and it was kinda cool! To have those guys hang out, tell me about artists they liked and what their taste in music was, it was cool!”
Regarding being in the city during dance music’s most recent boom generation, the DJ notes the national capital area’s history with the genre, and is hopeful regarding the present and future.
“DC’s a diverse and close-knit area of DJs, promoters and supporters that’s always been strong and supported many musical scenes. [Trance kingpin] Armin van Buuren’s first American gig was actually in DC, and now there’s local DJs and producers becoming known worldwide for making techno and deep house who are being supported at clubs serving as platforms like Flash, U Street Music Hall and Eighteenth Street Lounge.” Continuing, SAAM tells On Tap, “Also, there’s DJs like Tiesto and David Guetta who are big in the mainstream and play spaces like Echostage.”
When it comes to his big gig on March 12 at ShamrockFest, SAAM is excited.
“I’m looking forward to having a great time. I know a lot of the DJs playing there very well, and it’s my second time DJing the event. I’m going to see what the crowd is vibing with, and [given that] people will be drinking and looking to have fun, my mindset is to go with the flow. The crowd will dictate what I’ll play. When I’m done, I’ll have some beer and relax with the other DJs there.”
To learn more about DJ SAAM, follow him on Twitter: @DJ_SAAM.