Heart pumping. The crisp January air nips at his fingertips. His eyes dart quickly from his laptop screen to the crowd gathered in front of him. As the song builds, so does the energy of the stocking cap-clad audience until the tension is too much to bear. Then the beat drops.
This is the life of a DJ. More specifically, this is the life of St. Thomas senior Joe Masek. Masek was invited to perform at the Red Bull Crashed Ice event in St. Paul under the moniker “DJ Masakr.”
“I spent pretty much the entire month of January (preparing for Crashed Ice) … researching music, finding new stuff, sitting there figuring out what works with what (and) jamming out,” Masek said. “It’s so much feeling the crowd, what are people into, what are people listening to. Going into a place and being able to provide a fun environment for people really gets me going.”
Senior Joseph Pesta, Masek’s friend, attended Crashed Ice and said he enjoyed seeing Masek perform.
“It was really cool to see him up on stage,” Pesta said. “The crowd was loving him. He woos a crowd well.”
Masek is the owner and operator of UpperRoom Entertainment, a DJ company that he founded with friends in eighth grade. Self-taught, he started out with a pair of speakers and a computer running iTunes.
He said he took “every penny we would get” and bought his own professional-grade audio and lighting equipment and now DJ’s weddings and special events, including his senior prom at Totino-Grace High School.
“My prom date was a dude,” Masek said. “It was my buddy that I was DJing with. We had an absolute blast with the 800 kids that came out. That was the highlight of my high school career.”
In addition to owning his DJ business, Masek will be graduating with a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience this spring and getting married to his fiancé in June.
“It’s extremely time consuming,” Masek said. “There’s so much that goes into planning and scheduling with everybody. I manage my business and schoolwork from my computer.”
Masek said he has found a way to apply his interest in psychology and interactions between people to his DJing.
“Connection is huge for people to interact well and for people to understand one another,” Masek said. “Being able to see so many different people come together and really get into one thing is cool.
Masek’s Catholic values also have a role in the music that he plays. He tries to incorporate music with clean content into his sets, free of profanity.
“At the Red Bull event, I was DJing for thousands of people who were absolutely going nuts to music that is totally clean and doesn’t have a bad message in the song,” Masek said. “It was really fun, energized music, and that is really important to me to bring that out.”
“He’s able to play music that everyone likes, but it’s not dirty,” Pesta said. “He’s able to keep it pretty clean.
With graduation approaching in May, Masek is faced with the decision of whether to attend graduate school and pursue a career in neuroscience or to further his DJ business. But whichever road takes, he said music will still play a big part in his life.
Zachary Neubauer can be reached at email@example.com.