St. John’s Bernstein spinning up fun as DJ
Written by Josh Lyford · 11/05/2015
Most high school students spend their senior year preparing for college, hanging out with friends and – if teen comedies like “Can’t Hardly Wait” and “Superbad” have taught us anything – getting into hilarious hijinks and causing the fun kind of trouble. Not St. John’s High School senior Josh Bernstein, who has spent his final year in high school touring the country as a DJ, playing venues on both coasts and making crowds dance at events like the “Life in Color” event at the DCU Center in Worcester.
“I’ve always been inspired by and loved music, ever since I was small,” Bernstein said. “The first memory I have is a top 20 music video countdown on MTV or something. There were three songs: “Green Light” by John Legend, “Show Me What I’m looking For” by Carolina Liar and “Second Chance” by Shinedown. I would just listen to those on repeat. Those three songs kind of created a fire for music and I would just go from there. I listen to every single genre, really, even classical. Deejaying music and producing music, I got into that around freshman year of high school.”
From there, Bernstein would dive into music headfirst, absorbing as much as possible. His foray into dance and electronic music began with dubstep and the popular Skrillex (former front man of From First to Last), which Bernstein describes as being “pretty mainstream.” He would dig deeper into the electronic genre from there. It was right around that time his father bought a DJ controller for Bernstein’s birthday.
“It kept intriguing me,” said Bernstein. “I looked up YouTube videos and thought, wow, this looks incredibly hard. I have no idea how this works, there is no chance for me.” It didn’t deter the young man, as he continued to practice and create, eventually becoming more confident and marketing himself as a DJ for house parties and like-aged events, like high school proms.
“I love entrepreneurship in general. I started my own DJ business and I started marketing myself as a DJ for parties,” said Bernstein. “The money I made at those, I invested into getting better equipment. I was never really about spending my money on clothes or things like that.”
It was around junior year that Bernstein’s music began creeping up toward the next level. He started hitting the road for events in New York City and Los Angeles, meeting other musicians and DJs along the way. It was also around this time that Bernstein began the transition from spinning the music of others to producing his own.
“Producing my own music was probably the biggest thing in getting to the next level,” said Bernstein. “It was a whole different thing, Producing your own music is insane, but it is necessary to get to the next level. We live in a generation where everyone could be a DJ. They can buy their controller and do their own thing, I’m not saying it’s easy, but if you love music, you can do it and it’s fun and gives you a rush, performing in front of thousands of people is insane. When you produce your own, you pour your own passion and creativity into it.”
Since producing his own music, Bernstein has gone on to play at the DCU Center’s “Life in Color” event and the EDM-centric “I’m Shmacked” tour to thousands of people. It is an interesting dynamic for the student and musician, returning from a massive show in LA to class on Monday.
“The school knows what I do,” said Bernstein. “I am blessed to have the parents that I have. I have to miss school and I’ll come back tired, the school is accepting and my classmates are very supportive. It is about finding the balance.”
Bernstein will continue to play music and plans on continuing his education after high school, likely in business, though he is not sure where he will attend quite yet.