By Laura Ferreiro
Hordes of people crowded into the Avalon Hollywood on June 20 to experience the first-ever national Campus DJ competition. The uber-talented college DJ finalists spun in a hotly contested battle to be crowned the top college DJ in the nation after winning competitions in their local regions. The national champ was Nick Perloff, a 19-year-old sophomore at Columbia University, otherwise known as DJ Flaxo.
Not only did Flaxo get the whole club thumping and dancing, but he was also spinning for a great cause. Music for Good partnered with Campus DJ to arrange the Spinning for a Cause competition in which a generous cash donation from Chegg for Good and ticket sales proceeds were given to the cause of Flaxo’s choice, based on a list of four non-profits selected by Music for Good, Chegg for Good and the Electronic Music Alliance. Flaxo chose 826 National, a non-profit organization dedicated to giving students ages 6 to 18 the opportunity to improve their writing skills and offering free after school and in-school tutoring programs.
As fate would have it, Flaxo attended his local 826 chapter, 826 Valencia, as a kid growing up in San Francisco. “When I was being read the names of the possible charities….I totally realized…I went there as a kid!” Flaxo says. “Before I was a DJ I liked writing – creative writing and short fiction, all that stuff. When you’re a kid in elementary school you don’t necessarily have an outlet for that because in school they focus on basic skills. But at 826 they focus on expository skills and creative writing, and they’re passionate about literacy. It also gets kids really excited about writing!”
Flaxo explains that he started attending 826’s free tutoring sessions when he was 10 years old, and he went there regularly over the next couple of years. “It was a very welcoming place, and a lot of the skills I learned there stuck with me,” he says.
Now, as a sophomore at Columbia University who plans to major in political science, Flaxo is able to put these writing skills to good use. Meanwhile, when he’s not busy studying or writing music on his laptop, he’s packing dance floors with his insane mixes. “A typical show of mine is fifty to eighty percent my own music,” he explains. “The rest is a reflection of my inspiration. My performance style is a very quick change and I’ll blend different genres or cut between songs so people don’t recognize what I’m playing.”
The panel of judges at the Campus DJ final, which included Ken Jordan of Crystal Method, EDM innovator DJ Reid Speed, and Damon Ranger, Academy Award-winning songwriter (“Life of Pi”), were impressed with Flaxo’s unique technique, and awarded him the top honor. In addition to winning a tour package from Live Nation, Flaxo went home with a 2013 MINI Cooper S Countryman.
Before driving off into the sunset, Flaxo told us he was incredibly excited not only because he won the national Campus DJ competition, but also because he was Spinning for a Cause. “It’s selfish of any artist to assume they go out there without anybody’s help,” he says. “I’ve been helped by an immense number of people. So it’s nice to take a personal accomplishment I reached with the help of others and give back to a support system that fosters emerging artists.”
Listen to Flaxo’s remix of Kendrick Lamar’s “Swimming Pool.”