You never know when a random encounter with a leftover Halloween prop could propel you to stardom. Introducing DJ Bl3nd, the anonymous YouTube sensation with a high-energy masked alter ego and more than 50 million views—and who just might be your younger cousin’s new hero.
With an impressive base of supporters—and haters—Bl3nd, who spins at Surrender on March 23 and headlines Digital Madness on April 4 at the Henderson Pavilion, has found a formula that works for him in today’s age of “DJ” as the coolest new profession. Start with a gimmick, a mask, for example—preferably something the fans can replicate and wear to your gigs—add a dose of over-the-top energy and stage antics, amass a huge social network following and voila! Kids will get tattoos of your logo for life.
Originally from L.A., Bl3nd began mobile DJing Spanish music and hip-hop till Dirty Dutch piqued his interest. “I really enjoyed the crazy sounds, and ever since that I just started making my mixes and going on from there,” he says.
Despite already being a sort of seasoned spinner, he just couldn’t crack the club industry. “I started sending out mix tapes; I was ringing clubs to let me play for free just so they could hear me,” he says. “No one gave me a chance so I was like, ‘Ah well, whatever.’ So I started [making] videos. However, all the other videos back then just focused on the turntables and the hands and nothing really much happening in the video. So when I got decent enough to make my mixes online, I just did ’em differently by dancing and DJing at the same time.” It apparently struck a cord with legions of little Bl3nders, who by clicking away online finally drew the attention of venues.
But what’s up with the freaky faux face? Hacking up an old Chucky mask he had socked away in his underwear drawer, Bl3nd morphed into his current persona. “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie The Mask with Jim Carrey? What that mask does is—it’s gonna sound funny or whatever—but it gives me, like, super powers, actually. It makes me into a different person every time I wear that mask,” Bl3nd admits. “It’s not the same when I don’t have the mask on, so I just keep it on during my show.”
Unfortunately, by the time his video mixes hit tens of millions of viewers, another DJ Blend surfaced. “When I started the whole ‘DJ Blend’ thing back in 2010, he approached me and told me I needed to change my name because he had it trademarked since 1990 or something.” Bl3nd acquiesced, changing the “E” in his name to a “3.” (Hey, replacing letters with numbers worked for another masked electronic artist, right?) “I think it looks even better now; it looks more modern.”
Fortunately, Bl3nd seems to be a grounded, self-made success who aims at remaining connected with his fan base despite his quick rise to stardom. “Right now I’m going to start doing collaborations with other producers that are really not out there,” says Bl3nd, whose original tracks are gaining momentum on YouTube. He also plans to release an original EP this year.
“What I’m going to do is start taking out artists that are in the underground scene through my record label, Loko Sound, because I figure all these big artists don’t really care much for new upcoming producers, you know? Or don’t really interact with them on Twitter—I don’t know for what reason. I’m a different type of DJ that actually likes to interact with the people because they are who got me out there in the first place.”
But don’t expect him to tell you his real name or age. “That’s something I keep a mystery,” Bl3nd says.
While his fans are behind him full-force—so much so a few have even copied his ink—the Internet giveth and the Internet taketh away. Message board chatter proposes his sets are pre-mixed and he’s just another artifice. However, it’s undeniable Bl3nd gets the crowd jumping and weren’t eyebrows raised five years ago when a dude showed up to spin wearing a giant mau5 head? Only time will tell if Bl3nd has found the right formula for continuing fame.