Felix Aguado is a talented musician and DJ, known to his fans and followers as DJ Piojo. He’s been on the scene now for many years and is quickly racking up a handy list of gigs and shows to his name. He’s experienced both ups and downs throughout his career, which started when he was just 15 years of age. He’s come a long way since those days as an 8-year-old, playing around with his Dad’s music system.
Felix was able to spare some time and answer a few questions we had about his career, early influences and his thoughts on the future.
Felix, when did you start DJing – and what or who were your early passions and influences?
I started at an early age when I was 8 years old, playing with my Dad’s music system, which had an equaliser with amplifiers. He had this big cupboard full of tapes and music collections of all genres, which he would cycle through and play at home. I remember at family parties I would play with those tapes and I would play some songs for them. It came to a point where I wanted to play music all the time.
I got seriously invested in it and started ripping my favourite songs from the radio station on cassette tapes. Every night I would put on my Walkman and listen to them before sleeping. At that age, I didn’t know what a DJ was or did. All I knew was there was this different emotion, a passi on that I had not felt before when I played music.
At what age did you start to mix like a DJ and get your first gigs?
When I was 15, I came across ‘Atomix Mp3’ a software, which emulated DJ equipment. This sparked my interested, and I started researching about what a DJ was and what they did. To put it simply, there wasn’t much information on the internet about DJing’ back in 2003.
After making a couple of mixes and sharing it with my friends, I did 2 mixes for a talent show at my high school. It was a big deal for me to hear my mix on big speakers in front of my friends and other students, even though nobody knew it was my mix. At the same time, I asked my Dad if he could buy me some DJ equipment and he agreed.
A week after I got my DJ equipment, my friend was having his birthday party at his parent’s house. This was my first opportunity to use my equipment. I remember not even having speakers, so I had to borrow my Dad’s.
I was nervous, my hands were shaking, and there were way more people than I had pictured in my mind. My friends were dancing, and the music was awesome – a dream debut for any DJ. Everything was going so smoothly until one of the speakers blew out midway during the party. I didn’t know what to do. Thankfully and ironically, the police showed up, thereby finishing the party and saving me.
The following days, my friends started spreading the word, and I started DJing for other friends and family members. The list and reach started to grow exponentially, moving onto ‘Quinceaneras’, sweet 16s, and eventually weddings under my DJ Piojo company.
How did you get the artist name Piojo?
A lot of people joke about my DJ name because “Piojo” in Spanish means “Louse”. Why would I choose to be represented under a name like that they ask?
When I was young, I was affected by how others saw me. I was eventually approached by someone at a party, and he explained because “I was everywhere”. A few months later, when I started working on a radio station, I met Daddy Yankee, a Reggaeton Legend. He asked me what my name was and when I told him “DJ Piojo” he said, “Oh, you’re the DJ that’s everywhere”. From then on, I knew I had chosen the right name and always followed my instincts, even if most people don’t see it that way yet.
What do you personally consider to be the incisive moments in your artistic career?
After forming my DJ company and staying busy doing weddings, corporate events and private parties, I wanted to extend my brand to a bigger platform where I could showcase my mixing skills and show my passion for music.
I had heard of a DJ contest among hundreds of DJ’s at the #1 radio station in my area in Washington DC. I decided to give my best shot and send a mix. I remember practising for hours for my 15 minutes set. I wanted to make sure every song had a purpose, and I wanted to make sure every transition would have the right energy like I used to do when I was 8 playing music on my Walkman before going to sleep.
Thanks to the help of my close friends, family and to CBS Radio company who believed in my talent, I won the contest and landed a job at the radio station as a mix show DJ.
How do you stay up to date with the latest music trends?
First thing I do when I wake up is stream music on my phone. I go via different apps every day and leave it on playing on the background while I get ready.
Once I’m in the car, I put on Spotify and stream music through discovery mode playing in the background. When I hear a song that I start feeling, I turn the volume up, and I write the name of that song on a piece of paper or on my phone notes whichever is more convenient at the time. I consume a lot of music daily. Sometimes I ask friends to share their playlist as well and listen to them while working or commuting. I use social media regularly; I follow artists and see what they’re up to, I talk to people that follow me and DJ’s locally and internationally and ask them what they’re into lately.
International music charts are also helpful to see if a new underground genre is coming out that we don’t hear it locally.
What are currently your main challenges as a DJ? What is it about DJing, compared to, say, producing your own music, that makes it attractive for you?
I need to be able to showcase my mixing skills and entertain people. Back in the early 2000s as we all know, the internet wasn’t as big as it is now. I would make mixtapes on CDs and share them with friends and people who liked my mixes. Sharing mixes had always opened up doors at different clubs and potential clients. In this digital era, most people don’t have a medium where to play CDs. Most new cars don’t even have a CD player anymore, but they all got a cellphone. I often share mixes online on my social media, but record labels claim their copyright and take my mixes down.
I think being able to manipulate music with my turntables and being able to play my songs in a mix along with other great songs makes it more rewarding to me.
What techniques do you use to engage listeners?
Every time I get on my turntables, I have to figure out what will be the right atmosphere for the event. Managing the right energy at the correct times is also crucial for keeping them entertained. Although you can’t always make everyone happy, I try to look over a crowd and focus on different groups of people and use them as spots of energy. I decide when I want people to stop dancing and when to bring them back up. All of this comes at ease when you are well prepared before the event. After each event, I always record my sets and hand them out on a USB to people that come up to me and like my work. I also have a lot of my mixes on www.djpiojo.com that updates with my latest creations.
What do you usually start with when preparing for a set?
I always think of who my listener is first. I make sure to find what their demographic is, range of ages, time of the event and type of event. In my opinion, a good set has to tell you a story, like taking you on a journey to let loose and have a good time. I balance my tracks with current trends and the good classic throwbacks to surprise them.
What would you say is the most rewarding part of being a DJ?
Having the opportunity to express myself through music, and taking someone on a musical journey makes all my practice hours worth it. That feeling when you realise everyone is having a great time and for a few hours you’re responsible for it, never gets old. Djing has allowed me to meet new incredible people, celebrities, see places and take in new experiences.
Thank you Felix for your time!
You can follow up with DJ Piojo at www.djpiojo.com and connect via:
- Facebook www.facebook.com/djpiojofan
- Instagram www.instagram.com/djpiojo
- Twitter www.twitter.com/djpiojo
Listing to DJ Piojo music via: