Music blared from the speakers in the atrium of Blend DJ Institute on Fort Apache Road as DJ Presto One was busy in the back classroom working one-on-one with Ashli Holland or DJ Sypo as she’d rather be called.
Since Blend Institute’s doors opened on May 31, 10 students have signed up for personal DJ sessions taught by five instructors, including owner DJ Presto One, a former aspiring English teacher who’s been in the business for the past 20 years.
“I didn’t think it was possible to become a career DJ,” he said about his decision to pursue teaching. “But music began knocking on my door harder and I decided to become a DJ in a band, playing at festivals, clubs and getting the opportunity to travel across the country as well as overseas. It was awesome to sit back and know that I was brought to those places by my own two hands through talent and hard work.”
DJ Presto One added that bending, touching and moving music is a unique ability.
“Everyone’s mood changes when their favorite song comes on and there’s an adrenaline rush you get when the whole room is screaming; that’s what really drew me,” he said. “Being a DJ is like being a chemist. You can put the right combo of songs together to make the room blow up or you can fizz it out when the party’s over.”
According to DJ Presto One, Blend, which covers 1,300 square feet in space formerly occupied by Dr. Footsie’s Shoes, aims to give everyone interested in the craft a chance.
“You can learn anything on YouTube, but we’re here to let you know if you’re on the right track or whether your form is off; we’re coaches here to support people’s interests,” he said.
Blend offers beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of DJ classes, Turntablism, where students can learn or perfect the art of scratching, and programs such as Ableton, FL Studio and Logic Pro X. They also carry specialized DJ equipment including various color records, custom skins for mixer equipment, bags, T-shirts and hard to find scratch records.
Alejandra Matheu-rios, 16, is taking DJ101, which covers the basics of the profession including beat matching and an overview of the various gear and software, as well as working as Blend’s receptionist, marketing and social media guru.
“When I was introduced to electronic music, I instantly fell in love with it and I want to become a DJ,” she said. “I hope Blend gets bigger and continues to create opportunities for people of all ages who want to be a DJ.”
DJ Sypo — named after her favorite hairstyle, the side ponytail — has been a DJ for the past three years and decided to enroll at Blend Institute to learn more about the programs, transitions and beat matching.
“I’ve learned a lot already in just two classes,” she said. “I want to get out and play more gigs so I can not only make a name for myself as a female DJ but as a DJ in general.”
DJ Sypo added that Blend will produce more skillful DJs in the industry.
“It gives you the opportunity to get out and see if you’re doing it correctly as opposed to doing it on your own,” she said. “And it feels like home here, it’s not a business, it’s a hangout to come chill and meet people.”
Aside from teaching the art of becoming a DJ, creating a community for the industry is another goal of DJ Presto One’s.
“I want this to be the matrix for DJ’s in town as well as provide classes for anyone who wants to learn or tighten up their game,” he said. “We’re here to help everyone get the best experience they can get and proceed from there.”
According to DJ Presto One, he anticipates that Blend will become a staple in the Las Vegas community.
“DJ’ing has been good to me for the last 20 years and I wanted to give back and give everybody more hope,” he said. “When we opened we just hoped Vegas would be ready for this, and I think we struck at the right time.”
Contact reporter Ann Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0391. Follow @AnnFriedmanRJ on Twitter.