An atmosphere of anticipation hung over the room as students filed into their 5th period Sound Production class on Tuesday, May 7. Where the day before there had been record decks and headphones, there now were news cameras and media professionals, all focused on a man standing calmly behind a custom-made record deck. He was someone the class had seen multiple times in videos and DJ instruction videos: Zach Sciacca, better known as world-famous DJ Z-Trip.
“Getting to experience his musicality, because he really makes the turntables sound like a traditional instrument, [was the coolest part],” junior Daniela Garcia said.
Teacher Robert Kaechele’s Sound Production class had been learning to DJ a music genre of their choice for the last few weeks. Kaechele’s DJ experience as well as a plethora of music and mixing equipment ensure students a quality foundation in learning how to “rock a party,” but Z-Trip’s visit was the icing on the cake.
Speaking of cake, one of Z-Trip’s main points of emphasis during his presentation was about the importance of picking good music. Z-Trip emphasized that the individual songs in a DJ set were like a cake, and someone’s DJ skills were just the icing on that cake. If the cake was not good to start with, no kind of icing could not make people want to eat it.
Learning from such a seasoned industry professional was an important and unique opportunity for students. They had the opportunity to ask Z-Trip for advice on anything from how to market yourself and make a name for yourself as a DJ (“Do it for free,” Z-Trip advised. The important part is getting your name out there, not the money) to certain DJ skills they struggled with individually. Additionally, the DJ stayed after class for students who wanted a chance for a more one-on-one conversation.
“Z-Trip is one of the best all-time examples of DJing and how to be in the business,” Kaechele said.
Although Kaechele’s Sound Production class first appeared on course selection forms only two years ago, it offers students several unique opportunities to get in on the elite world of the music industry, from going behind the scenes at a record label to this presentation by Z-Trip. But on a more everyday level, it lets students further their creativity with music equipment and software that would be difficult or expensive to acquire as high school students.
“I appreciate all the equipment that I have available, and all the people I can get to know [through this class],” junior Joshua Collins said.
With Z-Trip’s presentation fresh in their minds, the Sound Production students finished up their unit on DJing with the production of their own hour-long DJ sets, each in a unique style and with unique songs picked by the students, before uploading their finished sets to Soundcloud.
Z-Trip is interested in returning and presenting to the Sound Production students again, so students interested in learning from this world-famous DJ and Poway’s own DJ K (Kaechele) should join Sound Production next year.