DJ NIEL MAC

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DJ Niel Mac is a 10 year old DJ from El Paso, Texas who has been studying with DJ Dragon XL of Las Vegas and working with EDM producers in Europe. He will be releasing his first single this coming Spring; find more information on his website, and check out our interview with DJ Niel Mac below.

Could you tell us about your background, and what initially drew you towards DJing and creating electronic dance music?

“I’m ten years old and live in El Paso, Texas. Back when I was seven, my dad thought because he’d been a drummer for so many years that it’d be a great fit for me. He started me with lessons and purchased a drum kit but it just wasn’t something that I caught onto. When I was eight, he took me to Crystal Dreams which was an EDM Paint Party here in town. I was obviously the youngest attendee by about ten years yet still had an amazing time. I then attended the Sun City Music Festival where I saw Zedd, David Guetta, Kevin Focus, Nicky Romero, Joachim Garraud and Armand Van Helden, an event which absolutely hooked me to learning about electronic dance music and DJ’ing.”

Who are your biggest musical influences, and how do you work their material or implement their styles or techniques into your own music?

“People say I have an old soul: a lot of my inspiration comes from outside the EDM genre including Frank Sinatra’s music, classic rock, punk, metal, classical music, and almost anything else. I hope to continue creating and maturing my sound by (blending) pieces from different musical styles that complement each other. DJ AM was such an incredible, diverse open format DJ who blended so many styles of music to create such amazing experiences that I look at his accomplishments as a huge influence on my style.”

What advantages come with being a DJ at such a young age? What about the disadvantages?

“I think the uniqueness of my young age encourages people to listen and learn more about me. I think it’s because people are intrigued about whether I have talent or not, but either way it definitely draws both attention and skeptics. The disadvantages are huge at my age: if there was a 10 year old piano virtuoso performing, everybody would be amazed and enthusiastic to support their achievement. A 10 year old DJ (would not receive) the same enthusiasm at all. My parents have experienced a lot of hate from those within the music industry who think this art is not for children.”

What other activities do you enjoy outside of DJing? How do you balance these and schooling with music?

“I played youth football for several years until my performing schedule created conflict. After several years of absence from skateboarding, I’m back with a vengeance. I really missed skateboarding and am excited to be back. I also have a personal trainer and workout regularly to stay healthy and fit. The demands of being a DJ are both physically and mentally challenging. It’s really important for me to stay active physically, as it helps build my physical stamina and helps me to perform better. My parents found an amazing homeschool academy here in El Paso that has supported my career and challenged me academically; my new flexible schedule allows me to perform late during the week and weekends because I’m not locked into going to class Monday through Friday.”  

What type of role are your parents taking on as your career begins to develop? 

“My dad is my unpaid roady. He has been so critical in all the operations of my music production and performing. He sets up my equipment, helps technically, and is there when my laptop decides to skip or crash. My mom was an Emergency Room Nurse who gave up her full time career to become my unpaid Manager. She manages the business side of my career, communicates with and schedules potential clients and gigs, manages my calendar and makes sure that I’m safe, loved and fed regularly!”  

How did you all decide to begin working with DJ Dragon XL?

“There came a time when YouTube videos and other self learning courses were just not enough from a learning perspective. Other musicians have the luxury of taking music lessons and getting personal guidance, instruction and direction from an expert on the musical instrument they’re learning. It’s much more challenging finding a DJ who is not only an accomplished artist but also a great teacher. My dad reached out to DJ DragonXL, a resident DJ in Las Vegas, for help and for the past two years, we’ve been traveling regularly for lessons to help me refine my music skills. It’s been amazing because DJ DragonXL has not only become an amazing mentor but also an incredible friend.” 

Through my research, it seems to me that you are advanced beyond your years in terms of maturity and musical knowledge. How have you been able to learn and achieve so much at such a young age?

“It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication. There’s been so much support from both my parents, DJ DragonXL, my clients, and the amazing fans who I’ve been so privileged to share my music with. It’s been a roller coaster of successes and failures as I’ve been working so hard to gain acceptance as an accomplished DJ. I know I must keep going and keep learning and growing, and I understand that my challenges may be greater because of my age. As long as I continue to work hard, learn, and improve as a musician, I will have a great future.”

What is your favorite social networking platform, and why? How has your Soundcloud account and official website enabled listeners to discover your mixes?

“I love Twitter because its quick, simple and direct. My Facebook page is a pain in the neck because it’s not as flexible as a personal account and does not support creativity or flexibility. Soundcloud has been an important platform that I use to share my music with others.”  

If you could tour or perform with any other EDM artist, who would you choose?

“I would love to perform with Zedd. I have so much respect for him, as he also started DJing at a young age. He’s so diverse as a music producer; I’ve also seen his interviews and am  impressed at how genuine, nice and humble he is at this amazing stage of his success. He seems grounded and very approachable, like someone that I would love to meet.”

What has it been like to spend time in Las Vegas working on something you are so passionate about?

“I’ve had an amazing time in Vegas. I’ve learned so much about music and the music business and also I’ve had a chance to experience performances at some amazing venues. I’ve learned so much from Dragon XL and he’s been pushing me way beyond my comfort zone, encouraging me to take risks and be more creative in my music, production and performances.”

What are your goals for 2014? Do you have any live performances or upcoming releases lined up?

“I’m the resident DJ for the El Paso Rhino Hockey Team so the hockey schedule has been really busy for me and performing has been incredible. I’ll be performing at Cabo Joe’s in El Paso this February and have music festivals and events booked for the spring including performing again this year for the projected 30,000 people attending Chalk The Block here in El Paso. I’m also excited to be producing my first single this spring in collaboration with some amazing EDM producers in Europe: this has been the opportunity of a lifetime and I think my first single will be something that reflects my youth.”  

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