• Interview with DJ DELF (Singer)

    DJ DELF is based in Ontario, Canada. He has been in the music industry for 21 years and during that time has won numerous awards; 2x Canada's Artist of the Year (CMW Awards, Much Music, MTV Canada), several "Parents’ Choice Awards." He is also the youngest person to be awarded the 2003 Helen B. St. John Award for "outstanding professional contribution and leadership in the field of modern languages" from the Ontario Modern Language Teachers' Association. Akin to a 'lifetime achievement award.'

    We recently caught up with him to talk about his career...

    Thanks for taking the time to do this interview DJ DELF. Tell us a bit about yourself, your name, age, where you’re from and an interesting fact if you like...
    My name is DJ DELF. Our record company (Educorock Productions Inc.) is based in Lasalle, Ontario, Canada. I’m probably better known under my principal stage-name “Étienne”. I’ve been producing songs and videos and performing for over 21 years now. My music ranges from hip hop, dance and rap to alternative and hard rock. What makes my music unique is that it is designed to teach the languages of French, Spanish and English.

    How long have you been singing?
    I started singing when I was probably about 9 years old. I remember being in the back seat of my parents car one day and saying "Hey Mom and Dad, I want to be a singer.” While most parents might say, “Ya, OK. Whatever son.” My parents said, “OK, but you’ll have to take lessons then.” And, from that moment on, I began training to be a singer.

    What first got you interested in becoming a singer?
    My Dad played in bands. There was always music on at home. I think I always loved music and singing along to songs on the radio, too. From a young age, I was able to remember lyrics after just hearing them once. And, I remember making up songs when I was really, really young and learning to recognize the structure in songs.

    What/who inspires your music?
    OK. Well, I know my talent comes from God. Might be the only one I have. So, I try to use it. But, my inspiration comes from music that I love and from my fans. In my niche of the music industry, I perform for students and teachers. So, they are my inspiration.

    Do you see being a singer as a career, or as a hobby?
    It’s been a full-time career for me for about 21 years now. But, it was never something planned or purposed. I’m just blessed enough to be the guy who, with support of my wife and family, gets to reap the benefits of sharing a love of music and languages with people from all over the world.

    What are you trying to do with your music? Do you want to help your community? Are you trying to get rich? What is your goal for your music?
    My music has a specific purpose. I perform rap, hip hop, hard rock and dance songs that help students learn French, Spanish and English. The goal of my music is to offer a real-life experience with languages. Students learn just by listening to and singing along with the tunes. Helping the community is what my music is all about. Growing up, I thought I was destined to be a heavy metal singer. But, as soon as I became “Étienne” and now “DJ DELF,” I had no time to write songs about cars, love, relationships or whatever. I’ve been too busy writing and performing songs about everyday aspects of life so students can learn vocabulary and expressions in other languages!

    Have you ever performed live? How did it feel?
    I’ve been blessed beyond measure. I’ve performed live, sold-out shows in theatres and arenas to crowds as small as a couple hundred to as big as 7,500, all over the world. Stepping on stage in front of a crowd of students and teachers that are singing your songs so loud that you can’t even be heard is one of the most indescribably humbling experiences. The shows are loud often over 125 decibels. Not cause of the band or the music, but because of the fans screaming and singing along!

    Do you have any kind of management, publishing or distribution team behind you? If so what are their responsibilities?
    I’ve learned to keep things simple. There are just three of us running all aspects of the business.

    What are some accomplishments that you have achieved, and are most proud of?
    I do not like talking about these things. I really don’t. I mean, you can list off the awards and such. But, at the end of the day, what really matters is family. I’m most proud of my wife, our son and our daughter.

    Have you ever made any contact with major artists or other high positioned people in the music industry and do you keep in contact with them?
    I’ve mixed and mingled with several popular artists over the years at awards shows, in the recording studio and even on vacation. But, probably the biggest artist that I’m associated with is Justin Bieber. About a year ago, on a popular TV show in France, he was asked to sing a French song live for the audience and for the millions watching at home. He chose to bust out singing one of my songs called “AVOIR II”. It was cool because he sang it the same way I do (with a bit of angst and edge). Take a look at the video and you can judge for yourself. I think he might even sing it better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v6hKSl8FgBU

    What one tip would you give to other aspiring independent artists?
    Do what you do for the love of the art. Your passion is what people will be drawn to. I’ve recorded over 12 albums. And still 21 years later, people request songs from my very first CD at my shows. I think to myself, but man… those songs were so “bad” (in terms of recording quality). But, they like even the “oldies” or “classics”, I think, because they house the energy and intended purpose of my music.

    What do you see is in the future for the music industry? How do you think it will evolve/change?
    Totally interactive, virtual concerts, that’s where it’s at. We’re hoping to start doing things that way, ourselves. We already incorporate Twitter in our live shows. But, using social media to have people from all over the world together for a show LIVE from their home or classroom is something I hope teachers will be open to.

    Do you feel like the internet is helping you as an independent artist?
    Yes. No doubt. I’ve had a website since 1995. The same email address since 1995. The fans on the internet helped spread the word about my music and make it global.

    How do you think social networks such as Facebook and Twitter have affected the music industry?
    Too many artists complain about it. They say, look… there are too many millions of musicians already on the internet. But to me, that just means that there were always millions of musicians out there. It’s just that now, they have a chance to be heard. Personally, it gives me a chance to connect with fans (teachers and students). There are so many Facebook groups dedicated to the same passions as me. There’s this one group called “Ontario Core French Teachers” where you can interface and share with some of the most amazing human beings (not just amazing teachers) on the planet! I love hanging out there, on Facebook, and interacting with our thousands of followers on Twitter (@etienne2).

    Where can we hear your music online?
    You can go to our websites (www.djdelf.com, www.educorock.com), or our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/roggieV) or our Pinterest site (www.pinterest.com/educorock), or Facebook (www.facebook.com/etienneonline) . ITunes, Amazon and other sites too! Just search “Etienne” or “DJ DELF”.

    What projects are you working on at the moment?
    Right now, I’ve added a new hat with “DJ DELF”. I released this new project (CD, DVD and resource package for teachers) under a new name because it’s a new direction. I’m working with my fellow teachers to make learning French as real as can be.

    Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time?
    Always a good question. I hope and pray I will still be healthy. And, I trust I will still be happy.

    Do you have any shoutouts you want to give?
    You know what. I always get great emails, tweets, DMs and posts from fans sharing how much they like my music. I would love to take this opportunity to say “Thank YOU!” I am motivated and energized by the students and teachers that listen to my music. Great people all over the world! Thank you to you all!

    Thanks again DJ DELF for doing this interview.
    Thank you.
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