Photo | Courtesy of Dee Jay Silver
Band: Jason Aldean with special guests Luke Combs, Lauren Alaina and Dee Jay Silver
Date: Thursday, July 26, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: The Amphitheater at The Wharf, 23101 Canal Road (Orange Beach), www.thewharfal.com
Tickets: $199-$300 (resale prices) available through Ticketmaster
For more than two decades, music enthusiasts have seen a steady mingling of genres and styles, one of the most surprising being the union of EDM and country music — with Dee Jay Silver leading the movement.
Silver’s talent for mixing and mashing dance club beats and backwoods anthems has led him to collaborate with a number of country artists ranging from Austin Webb to Luke Bryan. Silver even showcases country mix-ups and mashups on his weekly radio program, “The Country Club with Dee Jay Silver.”
Lately, Silver has been keeping the party rolling on the road with longtime friend Jason Aldean. Silver gave Lagniappe some insight into the creation of his unique EDM style.
Stephen Centanni: You’ve been in EDM since before the term was coined.
Dee Jay Silver: Yeah, I remember when they tried to break that in, and we all kinda thought it was laughable. It’s all “electronic dance music” if a DJ is playing it, you know.
Centanni: I was reading where one of your heroes was Bad Boy Bill, who has been a favorite of mine.
Silver: He’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. He is one of the first DJs I had ever seen showcased live; it was at Excalibur in Chicago. I remember that it was like walking into “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” The dude was just killing it. The first time I got to headline that room was part of my bucket list at the time.
Centanni: With all that considered, for somebody so schooled in classic EDM, what was it about country music that made you want to mix and mash it up?
Silver: That was what I grew up on and comfortable with and what I knew. Just like a guy that grows up on hip-hop, they know what songs to get in and out of and how to drop a verse or chorus and make people sing back to you. I knew that with country.
My mom and dad and all my friends would sit on the front porch. My parents would sing off-key or play the wrong chords, but I thought it was the greatest thing that I ever heard. That was something I knew and was comfortable with. I didn’t know that there was no one else doing it. It was nothing for me to play Alabama, Ludacris and Rage Against the Machine back-to-back. Good music is good music. It kinda became my thing.
People would be like, “You want an off-the-wall, mashup DJ, then hire this guy.” Then it got to where it was, “I know you’re gonna play country tonight, so just get in and out.” Now, we’re doing 10 straight days and a residency in Las Vegas in December for the [National Finals Rodeo] at the Gold Buckle Zone at the MGM.
Centanni: What kind of reaction did you get from the EDM crowd when you started messing with country?
Silver: Country has a stigma of ugly people and dogs running away and being lonely and miserable. When you get it in and let people know it’s still a party and drinking and fun, it triggers a memory, even if they didn’t know they had it — it makes it familiar.
Now, you look at guys like Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean and Sam Hunt and Kane Brown, and I can mix it and nobody even turns around and looks at you like you’re crazy.
Centanni: How would you describe your first experience mixing country in front of a country crowd?
Silver: You know, that was probably harder than mixing country for people in a nightclub, because they’re usually a little more drunk. I will never forget that first night I was with Jason. We were in Little Rock, Arkansas. He met me in Vegas a few months before and said he had a tour coming. Kevin Neal, our agent, worked it out.
First show was in Little Rock. These people in Arkansas — and nothing against Arkansas people — are into very true, traditional country. Now that I know that, I probably would’ve done things a little different, but it was my first time to play in a crowd like that. They were kinda looking at me. I’d get a song in, and it would take a minute. Then, they would catch on, and it was good.
A lot of people that just go to pure country bars, they always have dancers that if you play their one song, they’ll dance the entire song, and no matter if Jesus Christ himself was singing the national anthem after that song, they’re gonna leave the dance floor. That’s the mentality they have. It took me years to break that. Now they come to see me and it’s a nonstop party. They know what they’re getting into.
Centanni: What is it about being out on the road with Jason Aldean that keeps you coming back for more?
Silver: I have been so blessed in this world and in this life. I’ve been with Jason for nine, almost 10 years now. Every night, his show is just high energy and fun and never gets old. I don’t wanna sound biased because he’s my dude, but he is a true entertainer and a rock star. Even though I saw it [the live show] Thursday night, I wanna watch it Friday night and watch it Saturday and watch it Sunday night. I could have very easily went back to the bus and watched TV or went to sleep, but it’s the excitement and energy.
I’m also over-the-moon proud of this dude. I know what he’s gone through and fought to get where he’s at and fought to keep that position he has. I don’t believe that I’m partial when I tell you he’s the best, and I’m proud to be on the road with him.
Centanni: When you’re on the road playing these big venues with Aldean, what goes through your mind when you start thinking back to your early days in the club?
Silver: Honestly, it’s that nervous excitement that I can’t even wait for my 35 minutes to play and my time to get onstage. Another part of me says, “I can’t believe I get paid to do this.” Everybody says, “Find a job you like and get somebody to pay you for it for the rest of your life.” That’s been the last 20 years for me, and I thank you Jesus. We’re still going. It doesn’t matter.
Next week, we’re in Orange Beach, and then The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and then ending the week in Dallas. You get onstage and see 25,000 people every night going to see the guy in the cowboy hat, then it’s an opportunity to step out and do what you do for a minute and set people up for Jason. It’s an honor that I’ll never take for granted