Surrounded by partying Occidental students, Anoop D’Souza (first year) — aka DJ DESOUZA — worked his turntable from an elevated platform in the backyard of a local student house. The venue was packed, the energy electric — the party undoubtedly amplified by D’Souza’s performance.
“It was a party that inspired some faith in the Oxy social scene, and Anoop’s performance was a big part of keeping that energy alive throughout the night,” Ciaran Gilligan (first year) said.
D’Souza, a lanky tennis player from Oklahoma, is a self-taught DJ. He first started making music at the end of last summer after being inspired to experiment with Garageband by a friend who was producing music.
“He had one song on SoundCloud that had 100,000 views and I was like ‘Ooh, that’s kinda sick.’ So I wanted to try it,” D’Souza said.
During his first weeks at Occidental, D’Souza began to mix and create songs, including a remix of Drake’s “Back to Back” and one of his most successful songs, “Sweat Mami.” “Sweat Mami” is a mash-up and currently has almost 70 thousand plays on SoundCloud. As of today, his most popular song is “Sugar,” a mix of “Suga Suga” by Baby Bash and “Best I Ever Had” by Drake. It has over 175,000 total plays.
D’Souza’s songs are smooth and fluid, a testament to his ability to seamlessly fuse a variety of vocals with an up-tempo beat.
“I thought first off that he had a good ear,” Gilligan said. “He blends electro-pop and hip-hop in many of his mixes, and he’s developing a sound that I believe will gain recognition.”
After receiving positive feedback from friends and fans, D’Souza decided it was time to take the jump into the world of live performance.
“I wanted to take my music to the people, so I was like, I want to DJ, just literally spontaneously,” D’Souza said. “I did research for a couple of hours and called my dad later that night.”
D’Souza asked his father if he would be willing to loan him money to buy speakers, software and other DJ equipment. His dad agreed, and within two weeks D’Souza had a dorm room crammed with massive speakers and expensive turntables.
During the next month D’Souza sequestered himself in his room and learned the technicalities of DJing. He would spend half the day in his room tinkering with his new technology and even skipped classes because he was so devoted to learning the art.
D’Souza credits Gilligan as someone he could look to for constructive criticism during his development as a DJ.
“If [the song] is something I could get down to at a party, then it’s a yes, and if it’s something that I would come back to if I scrolled across it on SoundCloud, I would say ‘yes’,” Gilligan said. “Other than that, I have no problem saying I don’t like it, but it’s up to him what he ultimately decides to put out.”
Since teaching himself how to DJ, D’Souza has performed at school dances and house parties. He even won a contest that would pay for him to to perform at the Sea You Festival in Germany this summer. Unfortunately, the festival had to cut costs and instead invited the DJ who placed fourth to play because he lived in Europe. D’Souza was shocked and disappointed but recognized that it was just a minor bump.
“I was bummed out … but at the same time maybe it just wasn’t meant to be right now,” D’Souza said. “I still need to get way better before I can ever perform at something like that, so maybe it was a blessing in disguise in terms of how it’s motivated me.”
Although D’Souza may have lost out on one opportunity, he has been receiving attention from a handful of Los Angeles clubs. One such venue — Cuban Pete’s Mojito Club, located in Long Beach — is in talks to book the DJ in the near future.
Despite all of the attention he is receiving, D’Souza sees himself as a student first. He loves DJing, but said it is a just a hobby and that he intends to leave it at that while focusing on fulfilling his pre-med requirements.
Though music is not his top priority, D’Souza sees a greater purpose in his producing and performing: connecting with audiences. He stresses the communicative power of music and the joy he takes in playing the role of facilitator.
“I feel like music, no matter where you’re from or who you are, it’s able to speak to you,” D’Souza said. “It’s a universal language and I enjoy being able to talk to everyone in the crowd and give them a sense of happiness. Them being happy makes me really happy. That’s honestly why I do it.”