Interviews

Miami Native Brian Kerr Named ESPN's Best College DJ in America

When FSU student and South Miami native Brian Kerr heard about a nationwide contest to find the college DJ of the year, the Miami native thought his chances were good. So he signed up for ESPN & Campus DJ's Best College DJ in the nation competition at a Tallahassee nightclub called Encore. "There were seven DJs. Each of us got a ten-minute slot, and we were graded on stage presence, creativity, music selection, and crowd control."

He managed to win first prize and a ticket to the next round. Kerr, or as he calls himself behind the turntables DJ Kurr, wasn't surprised. Even though he was only a college senior, he had already been professionally DJ'ing for almost a decade.

His love for DJ'ing began in sixth grade at a friend's bar mitzvah. "A friend and I were staring at the DJ and asking him questions. Our bar mitzvahs were coming up, and we decided as our community-service project we would set up our own DJ company and give all the proceeds to charity." The pair were written up in the Miami Herald, and soon the gigs started flowing. But Kerr wanted to keep learning the trade. "I bought my first turntables at 15 and learned to scratch from watching YouTube videos. I'd practice four hours a day and I'd sneak in through the back door of South Beach nightclubs to learn from their DJs. When I got to college, I kept going. Before I slept for the first time in my dorm, I'd already DJ'ed at a nightclub in Tallahassee."
The late nights didn't stop him from graduating last spring. By the time of the competition's regional round, he was living in Los Angeles. He went on to win that round as well. The finals were held this past January in Phoenix at the NCAA championship football game. Playing in front of 10,000 people, he was nervous but still felt confident. "I like to be creative and play songs you never expect to hear. I'd experienced playing all kinds of crowds from third-grade pool parties to 80-year-old birthday parties to LIV nightclub." He thinks it was his sense of humor that got him into the winner's circle. "It was right after that Miss Universe thing. So I had Steve Harvey's voice saying 'the winner is (the other finalist)'."

After being crowned America's number-one college DJ, despite having already graduated, Kerr had the opportunity to play a 25-minute set between the rock band Walk the Moon and pop star Ciara and is now on the panel to judge next year's contest.

For winning the contest, Kerr received $2,500 to give to the charity of his choice. He chose the Dylan Schopp Foundation, an organization started in the name of a good friend from college who committed suicide.

With his college eligibility up, he's working for a branding company while living between Miami and Los Angeles but doesn't see DJ'ing as just hobby a from his youth. "There's nothing I enjoy more than real DJ culture."
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David Rolland is a freelance music writer for Miami New Times. His novels, The End of the Century and Yo-Yo, are available at many fine booksellers.
Contact: David Rolland