When junior Alex Magan landed a job with Pollen — a company that plans spring break trips — he hoped it would take him one step closer to his dreams of DJing in another country. This past Spring Break, his dreams became a reality in Cancun, Mexico.
“I obviously look forward to more stuff like that and the opportunity … it's a dream that I've had for a while and now it's finally coming,” Magan said. “It feels like the fire has been kindled.”
Magan’s employer hosts Campus Vacations, which are trips to tropical destinations around the world, with representatives that sell the trips to students, on campuses all over the U.S. Recently the company began inviting student DJs to open before headliners. Mallorie Ihnat, Pollen’s senior team lead, said these students create an inviting atmosphere at the events.
According to Magan, Ihnat hiring him gave him the opportunity to open for Two Friends, Lost Kings and Jauz — all top venues in Cancun.
“I was speechless … I've been doing this for about five years, producing, DJing, making music — things like that, and this is something you dream of,” Magan said. “Everyone always tells you in the music business, you need to have talent, you need to know people, you need to have connections and then you need to have luck. And this was a luck.”
Ihnat said Pollen’s goal is to give people unforgettable experiences, and according to Ihnat, Magan did exactly that when he was in Cancun.
“Alex absolutely thrived up there. All of my coworkers and everyone kept coming up to me being like, ‘Wow, he is such a contagious personality, he is having so much fun living out his dream,’” Ihnat said.
Magan grew up playing the drums in bands, but as he and his bandmates got older, Magan said it became harder to find times to meet. The rest of his band had the opportunity to go solo, but Magan didn’t think he could succeed as a drummer, which is when he found DJing. Magan goes by the stage name Don Kon.
“Going into high school I discovered electronic music,” Magan said. “I took up DJing, and then soon to follow, I go ‘Wow, this is electronic music.’ All these guys are making this music on their own. I picked that up and I just, I fell in love with it.”
DJing is at its core playing song after song for an audience, but Magan said there are some misconceptions about what DJs actually do and that they don’t just stand behind the table queueing songs. Magan likes to create something new with music that people will recognize, and utilize technology. He creates remixes and mashups of popular songs that the audience can sing along to, but hear a new version of.
Magan said one of his favorite parts about DJing is the crowd. He interacts with them and reads the crowd to see what kind of music they enjoy and what he should play less or more of.
“I love the crowd, reacting to the crowd, and I love going to the microphone and things like that,” Magan said. “People don't want you to just be up there standing, they want to see you having as much fun as they are, so they feed off of that.”
Over winter break, Magan played the “graveyard” shift from about 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. at Blue Midtown in New York City. This was a new experience for Magan, since he is under 21 and legally can’t get into most clubs to DJ because of the presence of alcohol.
“I just got into this other gear. Just pure adrenaline,” Magan said. “Playing live is one of my favorite things. I'm very energetic, very sociable, and producing can stray away from that because a lot of times you're by yourself, in front of your laptop. Playing live is when I get to express all those emotions.”
Magan said Cancun provided him with another opportunity to build his resume, and of course, open doors for future DJ gigs.
“I was just super inspired because I would look up to Two Friends and they get to call that a job,” Magan said. “And that's all I want to be doing. I don't wanna be stuck on a desk. I want to be out playing music, having fun, living life — and that's exactly what they're doing.”