He’s as intelligent, composed and straight-edged as they come. But don’t let the bookish demeanor of DJ Dainjazone (a.k.a. Joseph Hampel) fool you. At just 27, this former baseball player, current substitute teacher and aspiring model has the party rock on lock.
A fairly new DJ and already you’re signed with the same management as LMFAO. You call yourself the Leader of the New School. Why?
I’ve been spinning for five and a half years, and we all want to be accepted and approved by the older guys. But a lot of older DJs are just waiting for a reason to hate on a newer DJ. You can’t care what anybody thinks. If we seek others’ approval, we’re diminishing our guidance system, and then we don’t trust ourselves, [we] doubt ourselves and lack confidence. It’s the fact that I’m being myself that could be an example for people to be inspired by.
Inspiration factors greatly into your other job is as a substitute teacher. Is it difficult to balance your two lives?
It can be a challenge. It depends on how I’m scheduled. Sometimes I’ll go out and network till 1:45 a.m. and won’t fall asleep till 3 a.m. and then I’ll be up at 6:30 a.m.
The fact that you neither drink nor smoke—which is rare—must greatly help.
I’ve had 25 shots in my life, all on special occasions, something significant like graduating New Mexico State, the first time working with Dave Fogg and DJ Spryte at [the Palm’s] Midsummer Night’s [Dream] party. I’ve told so many people, “No, with all due respect, it’s nothing personal.”
So why do you say no to booze?
My plan was to be a baseball player, and I never wanted any reason or excuse to be held back from not making it to the pros. I never cared for the taste. Then that just carried over into DJing.
At the start of your career, how did you choose “Dainjazone.” Should we be afraid?
I wanted to be a battle DJ, and Big L had a song called “The Danger Zone.” The hook was “One-Three-Nine and Lennox is the danger zone/Where no man can withstand or hold his own.” That line was so raw, I figured as a battle DJ, that’d be a dope name, like, “I gotta face Dainjazone.” Mentally it might throw someone off.
You’re a club DJ now, not a battle DJ. How would you brand yourself?
I’m about respect, integrity, creativity, morals, and style. Integrity would be just doing the right thing, creativity—well, that’s nonstop with me. It’s a practice that has to be done everyday, re-creating yourself and procreating with others.
You also mentioned style. What’s yours?
It’s a mix of a lot of things: Mark Ronson-meets-Kanye West-meets-’80s hip-hop-meets-futuristic. Ronson’s latest album is an inspiration for the way I dress now. It’s amazing how music can speak to you and inspire you to do certain things, and what it associates itself with.
And you are rarely seen out without your signature glasses.
They’re called Cazals. I have three different styles. They’re the same ones that Run-DMC would wear. If I’m out in the scene, I have to wear those trademark glasses or people won’t recognize me.
As Leader of the New School, and with so much competition out there, what advice would you give to up-and-comers?
It all comes down to the hustle, what makes you stand out. Networking is huge, going out, relationships, having a residency. Study and practice. Being a DJ is like being a new rock star, and everyone wants to be a part of that movement. Do it because that’s what you wanna do. Have respect for what you’re doing. DJs complain about politics, but if you grind and do yourself right, those politics will come back like karma.