It Takes 10,000 Hours To Master An Art, DJ Sean Wallace Has 4,000 Down

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DJ Sean Wallace is an OC transplant living in LA. Although he’s performed at venues like LA’s illustrious Playhouse Nightclub and saved small villages with the best of electronica, he admits that he’s a little less than halfway there.

7Deadly: Let’s start from the beginning…

DJ SW: It started out as producing for me and that’s always been my primary focus. Let’s see… I went to EDC Summer of 2010 in Los Angeles and pretty much the next day I had to go out, get a program and start figuring the ins and outs. I was still in school, so I was spending about 6-8 hours a day fooling around, trying to make songs. There’s no rule book to learn, so you just have to hack at it and watch YouTube tutorials and go from there. DJing came about six months later because I decided I had to figure out a way to perform the songs, and that’s the only way to do it, really.

7Deadly: Peeps you keep an eye on for inspiration?

DJ SW: A lot of the UK guys are doing some crazy stuff right now, Michael Woods and Funkagenda are two guys that I look up to, because they can bring that funky, tech-house sound and rock American crowds with it. They’re able to take basic stuff and create a musical journey as opposed to just playing the hits that everyone is going to recognize, over and over again, in the same order. I think I’d shoot myself if I had to do that.

7Deadly: You started DJing in the OC, then recently moved up to LA. How was the transition?

DJ SW: I cut my teeth around here and played at most of the clubs around Orange County, the I moved up to LA about three months ago. I played at Playhouse a couple weeks after moving. Just playing at one of the most famous clubs in Hollywood was a really cool experience.

The differences… LA is a lot more glamorous, it’s the destination to be. Orange County, we definitely have a good scene for electronic music, but it’s nowhere near what LA has. You walk down Sunset or even Santa Monica where I live now and there’s a good amount of stuff popping up here and there — it’s exciting. I’m looking forward to getting more involved in that scene; I spent so little time in LA that it’s hard to immerse myself, but I’m getting there.

7Deadly: Give us the DL on dubstep.

DJ SW: My opinion on dubstep has gradually changed. I was initially a very intense hater of dubstep, I was not for it at all, but the quality of dubstep has increased. There are people out there doing really talented stuff. There’s also still a lot of really, really bad dubstep — that’s kind of the truth of the matter. Good dubstep is definitely out there, and I get down to it, so I have nothing against it at all. I’ve made a little bit of it myself and have a pretty good mind for dubstep.

7Deadly: Ever dabble outside of the realm of electronic music?

DJ SW: I grew up playing all sorts of different instruments, my mom started me on piano lessons when I was four or five, and then I played saxophone for four or five years. I’ve had to listen to and learn to play a bunch of different classical stuff. Then I started listening to a lot of metal and started playing guitar — that was probably the biggest influence and probably why I can enjoy dubstep so much, because it’s very similar rhythmically. I played guitar for about seven or eight years.

7Deadly: Do you think having a background in playing actual instruments impacts your DJing?

DJ SW: The thing about producing is that there can be as little or as much musicality as you want. For the good majority of music out there right now, you don’t need to be Mozart to produce it. You need the technical skills, and you need to know how to mix music well and get it sounding big and heavy more than you need to know how to write a good chord progression. Obviously that stuff is important and allows you to have a lot more fun and create emotion in your music, but you can sit there and create a one-note song, and as long as the sounds are good, people will like it.

7Deadly: What advice would you give to younger people getting into DJing?

DJ SW: First of all, good for anyone younger than me who’s getting into it because I wish I had started earlier. Now that I’m out of school, I don’t have the time anymore that I used to devote to this. Every DJ says the same thing; they say keep at it and things will happen for you eventually. There’s a lot of truth in that—I read somewhere that there’s a rule, that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a true master of something. After all my dedication, I think I’ve probably clocked 4,000. That sounds like a lot, but then you realize you’re a little less than halfway there.

Cristiana Wilcoxon

A writer and photographer based in Orange County. My patronus is a burger.