The lights are low and the bass is pounding. The floor vibrates and junior Christopher Liston sways along with the beat, his eyes closed.
Standing in his living room, pink headphones around his neck and his flat-brim hat pulled back, Liston is completely engrossed in the music.
He puts on a straight version of “Wake Me Up” by Avicii and starts “playing with it.” As it gets to the chorus, Liston moves his hand over the turntable, and when it turns red, he looks over his shoulder and says with a smile, “Listen to how high this can go.”
As the music gets faster, the singer’s voice gets higher and then the bass starts pulsing. Suddenly the beat drops. Liston keeps nodding his head to the song, while his hands fiddle with the various switches and knobs on the turntable.
“So with the music, I’m just improvising on top of the songs I don’t know,” Liston said. “I never actually know what I’m doing. I’m just playing with them.”
Liston may go by Chris at school, but his friends know him as “DJ PLURNT,” an acronym DJs use that stands for “peace, love, unity, now twerk.”
For Liston, his pastime isn’t just a hobby: it’s a passion.
On Oct. 22 Liston DJ’d at the Homecoming dance. He was set up in the corner of the MP room with a small table surrounded by speakers. On the table he had his school laptop along with his turntable.
DJ-ing at the dance, Liston seemed as though he didn’t have any worries. His face was expressionless as he took requests for popular songs like “Wake Me Up” and “What Does the Fox Say.”
He looked calm and prepared. But after the dance he admitted how nervous he had been.
“My Wi-Fi wasn’t working, and so people were trying to request songs but I couldn’t buy them,” Liston said. “It was very stressful because I only had my own music to play. I was worried people weren’t going to like what I was playing.”
There were also some invited students from Sacramento Waldorf who requested a lot of songs Liston wasn’t familiar with.
“They wanted me to play twerking music and songs that were almost impossible to dance to,” Liston said.
“I’m taking a break from DJing,” Liston said jokingly. “It’s too stressful.”
Inspired by his friend Brandon Mysicka, ‘13, Liston started DJing last June. Mysicka, who attends Santa Clara University, began DJing about nine months ago.
“When you start enjoying a certain type of music, you want to start producing the music you love,” Mysicka said.
“When I was in middle school, I was kind of an emo, skater boy, punk kid, so I played the guitar and had punk bands. But now I love to dance and have fun, so I’ve started to DJ and produce electronic dance music.”
Mysicka started DJing for his friends while in high school.
“It’s the best to be in front of a crowd of people at a party and know that you are the one fueling their energy,” he said.
Now he works at KSCU, Santa Clara’s student-run campus radio station.
Later in the year, he and his friend plan on having a DJ set on the radio once a week.
Even though Liston got some initial help from him, Mysicka believes that DJing is “kind of a hands on deal.”
“(Liston) did his own research, bought his own equipment, and watched YouTube videos on (DJing)” Mysicka said. “It’s like playing basketball, going in to the gym to work on layups or free throws—you have to practice.”
Student Council has asked Liston to DJ again at Winter Ball.
“It is important to support our students in their interests,” Student Council adviser Patricia Dias said.
“For Chris, if he’s really interested in DJing and everybody likes him, then I think it’s a win-win situation.”