How Scratch DJ Academy offers aspiring spinners a leg up in the music game

Scratch DJ Academy offers classes from experts up to date with the latest industry tech and equipment.
Scratch DJ Academy offers classes from experts up to date with the latest industry tech and equipment. Photo Credit: NBC

Students are going back to school across the city — and that includes at Scratch DJ Academy, the disc jockey instructional institution founded by the late Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C. fame.

amNewYork spoke with the Scratch Group’s chief operating officer Colin Kelly to talk about why, in an age of auto-mix computer programs, aspiring DJs should head back to the classroom.

Equipment advances and computers seem to have made being a DJ much easier than in the two-turntables-and-a-mixer days. Why would an aspiring DJ want to take classes?

That, to me, is a great example why you would want somebody to help you navigate. The tools are ever-changing. We have experts here that are current on whatever the industry standard tools are of the moment. We have a lot of students who took classes years ago who want to master something new, or they bought a new controller and they want to understand how to use it. Some tools are more plug and play, but there’s really a difference between actively DJing, doing what you learn to do in the classes, and putting playlists together and hitting auto-mix.

Scratch put out a book in 2009 (“On the Record”). What’s changed for you since then as a school?

What we’ve mainly seen is that what once was something like a cool hobby — maybe they were taking DJ lessons for a month, and then were taking photography lessons in two months — now it’s become something that people are actively looking to be trained in because they want to pursue it as a career, or a second career. They’re approaching it from a more vocational standpoint as opposed to it being a fun thing to do for a few weeks.

What’s the biggest trait for aspiring DJs to take from the career of Jam Master Jay?

I think Jay always saw DJing as an art form — something to be treated as its own entity. When you talk to DJs who have taken the art form in all different directions today, people like A-Trak, that’s what they would look back and say — he was one of the first to honor the art form as an art form. That was a big reason why he was so into the idea of a school, where people could learn. It would be quite cool to see what he thought of what some of the boundary-pushing DJs today are doing.

For more information on Scratch DJ Academy, go to academy.scratch.com.