DJ Irie (or Ian Grocher, as he's known to his family back in St. Croix, Virgin Islands) is possibly the hardest working man in the Miami music biz.
Rarely seen anywhere but behind the decks, he has been the official DJ to the Miami Heat for 13 years. Off season, he can be seen spinning at famous friends' parties, from bashes for Robert Downey Jr. to clubby throwdowns with Jamie Foxx. Honestly, the man's iPhone contact book is essentially the invite list for the MTV Movie Awards.
Looking to share the bounty of his success, he helms the Irie Foundation, which seeks to empower South Florida's at-risk youth through mentorship programs, cultural experiences, and scholarship opportunities.
To promote his cause, Irie hosts an annual three-day celebration featuring a celebrity golf tournament, a concert at LIV nightclub, an afternoon of bowling at Lucky Strike, and a closing party at Mokai.
But before he and his A-list friends take over Miami for Irie Weekend 2013, we at New Times caught up with Mr. Grocher to discuss philanthropy and his undying faith in our Miami Heat.
Crossfade: I know you just got back from Texas. How was it?
DJ Irie: San Antoino is a great town. I love it there. The feelings won't be mutual till the finals are over.
Well, everyone hates the Miami Heat. Always.
Not true! [Laughs] Well, maybe. I think a passion for your team is a passion for your team.
How did you get involved with the Heat organization?
About thirteen years ago, when they moved from the Miami Arena to the American Airlines Arena, the marketing department reached out to me. The wanted their in-house entertainment to match the big, new facility they had. They figured Miami had such a nightlife culture and an official DJ might resonate with the fans. At the time, I was DJing all the parties and clubs on South Beach. So really, I wasn't that into it. I didn't think it was the right move for me. They were pretty insistent. I knew no one had done it before, so I couldn't really live up or fall behind anyone. I could make it my own. And two rings later, here I am.
Two rings and tickets to every game. Pretty sweet gig.
I never forget that. I am beyond blessed.
You were kind of the first to do what you do, right?
Yeah, the first full-time DJ for any professional sports team in the country.
No one could ever call you an imitator.
I feel like I have done that a lot in my career. Meeting new challenges with no one to really look to for guidance. It's hard, but to conquer something on your own is a pretty amazing feeling.
Speaking of being blessed, it's great how you spread the wealth with things like the Irie Foundation. How did it come about?
I had great philanthropic mentors like Alonzo Mourning, Jason Taylor, and Pat Riley. I worked very closely with them on their initiatives and watched how involved they are. Not only that, but you get to see the effects first-hand. We might have bigger resources than most people, but everyone can do something to help out. No matter how big the footprint, it's still a footprint.
How has the Irie Foundation grown over the years?
I know for a fact that I am going to look out onto that golf course next week and just be in awe of what is happening. The weekend started out as an idea inspired by the feeling that I needed to do more for my community. A lot of people even questioned the fact that I was doing a golf tournament. People would tell me, "Irie, golf? Have you ever played golf? I never even heard you say the word!" People expected me to do basketball. But I knew with golf, it would be the perfect day of people networking, bonding, and eventually leaving with a new friend. The first year, we had a handful of guests, celebrities and sponsors. But now it is way beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
Ne-Yo, Jamie Foxx, Flo Rida, and everyone in between has been seen over these last few years. Who can expect to stop by in 2013?
We have Michael Strahan, Chuy from Chelsea Lately, Audrina Patridge, Sky Blu from LMFAO, Jermaine Dupri, Travie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, the list goes on and on. A lot of great folks stopping by.
What's your advice for aspiring DJs look to be, I don't know, you.
First and foremost, just give up sleep now. Also, before you get into this, make sure this is your passion. I have talked to a lot of my friends that are in this business and what they thought their key to success was. It really all comes back to the fact that we love what we do. You rarely have weekends off, you work most holidays and your bedtime is usually when the sun is rising. Sometimes, the exposure of a gig outweighs what you're getting paid. But it's our passion, so none of that bothers us.
Let's talk Heat: Should we be nervous?
No. Everyone, fans and players included, need to have their game faces on. Be ready to cheer louder than you have before. We have been here before and I know we can do it.
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Any words to the fans that left in Game 6?
I'll say this ... [Laughs] We have the best fans in the world. No city is more dedicated than Miami.
Irie Weekend 2013. With DJ Irie, LMFAO's Sky Blu, Jermaine Dupri, and others. Thursday, June 27, through Saturday, June 29. Visit irieweekend.com.