As one of the most recognized music figures in the entertainment industry, DJ Skee has certainly made his presence felt. Since the young age of 15, this Minnesota-raised artist has been creating mixtapes that have captured the attention and interests of many. Throughout 2000, Skee was a regular on Minnesota’s KMOJ radio, and attracted many fans with his work. One of those people interested was Steve Rifkind, a music entrepreneur and founder of Loud Records who had worked with artists such as the Wu-Tang Clan, Big Punisher, Mobb Deep and many others. After graduating from Central High School in 2001, Skee moved to Los Angeles to work with Rifkind at Loud Records.
Because of his way of not limiting himself to any types of music, DJ Skee has worked withseveral high profiled artists for almost a decade. Some of those artists include Snoop Dogg, Chris Cornell, Michael Jackson, Ice Cube, Mike Posner, Lil Jon, Travis Barker and many more. Skee has also been able to develop a great connection with his fans by having his own radio show on Los Angeles’ KIIS-FM and SiriusXM Satellite Radio. He’s also interviewed A-List music artists such as Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga.
DJ Skee has headlined so many different parts of the world that it’s fair to say he’s becoming an international icon. From countries in South America to Asia, Skee has truly left his mark in nearly everyplace he’s been to. Skee has DJ’d many events such as the Super Bowl, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, the Grammy’s, NBA All-Star Weekend, and the NHL Winter Classic.
When he’s not making guest appearances at huge events, Skee has been building a huge life style channel known as Skee.TV. Since 2007, the network has had over 250 million views on YouTube, and has been distributed to restaurants and mobile homes.
Today, Skee is looked at as a cultural icon for not only his work in music, but also for fashion and technology. He has been recognized as one of Billboard Magazine’s “30 Most Influential Under 30” list.
In our exclusive interview with the DJ and media entrepreneur, he talks about topics such asgetting his start in the music industry, what it’s like to work with Chris Cornell and Snoop Dogg, who he’s willing to work with in the future, and much more!
I got started in high school, I took a class, they had a recording studio in my school. So I took a class on recording engineering and from there I decided I loved the technical side of stuff and the engineering side and that really gave me my background on a lot of what I do today. But I wanted to do more, unfortunately I can't really sing or do anything like that so the thing that came natural to me was DJ-ing. It was a way for me to perform without actually having to use my vocals as the performance piece. I've always loved remixing and smashing up music into a different thing so I decided, you know, I stole a turntable from my dad and went out and bought one. And from there was history.
Everybody's kind of different and stuff, you just kind of learn people's different habits and work ethics. It's still amazing to me being a kid growing up listening to Snoop and Soundgarden and now being called by these guys to come help them out and work with them. It's still almost surreal but once you get over that initial nervousness, you just do what you do and you learn other people's quirks and how they get down and throw your own style into it and you guys create and try to hopefully make something.
He's almost a cartoon character in a way. He's so 'I just happen to be' ... he has a studio in Hollywood and an apartment, and literally it's exactly what you'd expect of Snoop: dimly lit, thoughts are spoken in the air. He has all these football jerseys, none of them are framed – he just has them tacked to the walls. And Snoop will be sitting there, doing his own laundry, working on his own. It's like, 'Yo, this is Snoop' and he's just so hilarious walking around with house shoes. He happened be there with Wiz Khalifa that day and was teaching Wiz, because I guess Wiz might be moving to L.A. so they're working on a bunch of projects together and he's just like, 'Yeah, I just gave him his first pair of house shoes and teaching him how to pimp out here' and all this stuff. Snoop is just comedy when you go there. He is amazing.
The direct influence was Steve Rifkind because he's the one who actually moved me to L.A. when I was 17. He was the CEO of Loud Records and now SRC Records, so he's got everybody from Akon ... he developed Clans, and lots of groups like that, he's a higher up in this label. So he was definitely a direct influence for the same reason everybody moves out here. I respect every executive from Silvia Rhone, who's had a long career in the music business, to Jimmy Iovine who's doing deals and generating revenue outside of just music when music isn't really selling like it used to. One person I really admire too is Oprah and how she's made her brand. It's the biggest thing in the world, she's running her own network and being a billionaire but has such quality control over it. And at the end of the day she's basically just a talk show host who has developed all this other stuff around that. That's something I really admire and try to, of course, in a small scale, mimic on things she says. Whether it's something like a book, like, 'Oh, this is a good book,' and because you trust her quality and she's been associated with that, you'll read it and buy it. That's how we're trying to build up the stuff that I'm doing. Everything that I'm involved in is stuff that I truly believe in and it's how I got to where I'm at today, too.
I haven't yet, I wanna see it though. It's crazy that Oprah has her own network just around it, it's just amazing. Shout out to Oprah!
Oprah? [laughs] Beyond Oprah, there's so much talent out there that I haven't worked with. In terms of artists, I'd really love to do some stuff with Outkast. On the rock side, I don't know, I just like being involved in cool, new movements, new projects. I've been blessed when I look back to being in the studio and being able to work with all these people, whether it's Snoop Dogg or Jennifer Lopez or whoever.
I did a whole project with Chris Cornell about a year ago because he actually did a whole album with Timbaland and wanted to help bring it towards the urban and pop audience. I mean, he's a legendary rock act with Soundgarden, Audioslave all those things. It was really interesting getting in and working with somebody that is such a legend in the game and has such a difference audience than what I've been exposed to so far. His vocal abilities were just legendary, I listened to Soundgarden growing up so that was probably the most interesting project I've worked on and remake and put out six tapes for, so that was definitely fun and interesting.
Honestly, I like the variety of everything. If I had to be stuck doing one thing, I think I'd get bored of it real quick just because I'm super ADD and high energy and like doing different things. Luckily, all the things I do synergize between each other, whether it's radio, music videos, Web shows that we have, the live concerts and performances, it all goes hand-in-hand. But it's cool being out and able to go to a business meeting with Google one day and then that night go out and do a huge show with Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg and then go back and do radio and hop on a plane and do a show here [in Los Angeles]. I really enjoy the variety.
The first time, especially the first time that I was playing in Vegas and now with how big those clubs are, it was sort of nervous. You gotta make sure, if you play one wrong record, everything falls back on you. But at the end of the day, I've been doing it so long you just go with it, they're hiring you for you and what you've done so you just do your thing and everything always works out. Luckily, I've been doing this for a minute so I'm able to just kind of go out, do my thing and make everybody have a good time.
Honestly, learning how to turn it off. It's just so nonstop sometimes, you get caught up and I don't wanna wake up one day and be 70 years old and all I've done my entire life is just work. It's definitely tough especially running a start-up company like Skee.TV, where you're putting in so many hours every week. Especially with the show and radio and traveling, finding a life outside of just work is probably the biggest challenge.
That was definitely growing up fast, it was an interesting experience. I'd been to L.A. once in my life when I was a kid. It was definitely hard, you know, especially working right under all these people. But at the same time something that helped me grow up was you have to realize, 'Look, they brought you on a for a reason so just do you, come up with new strategies and treat everybody at the end of the day, we're all the same so be humble and respect everybody the same way.' You can't really get starstruck, although it's tough sometimes, but just be cool, smart and make your moves when they're right.
I took it from my real name, I started DJ-ing but I didn't have a DJ name so I couldn't ... dude, I'm the worst at coming up with names so I happened to see on my homework or something it said "S. Keeney" 'cause my name's Scott Keeney and I just thought, 'Hey, I'll take that S, K, E, E' since it's a part of my real name so that's where I got it from. So it does actually represent me, it's not like something I just randomly made up. I was just looking for a name and saw that and now I'm here, 10-11 years later.
It really depends on everything, I could be listening to anything from talk radio to Frank Sinatra to Nirvana to you name it. It just depends on my mood. It's kind of how everybody is now too, everybody in this generation is, so there's not really one style that you usually just listen to so I literally listen to everything. I'll go home and dig for old records or look for obscure new sounds from across the world.
That was a great honor just because Billboard is just one of those respected publications that is iconic in the music business. To be recognized for, they don't really usually cover artists or DJs or people in those fields, it's more of people on the business stance. So for them to recognize me, like everybody knows me as a DJ, but for them to acknowledge me for what I've done outside of just being a DJ with my company Skee.TV, it was a real big honor for me personally in my career outside of being ... I love being a DJ but it's good to be recognized for all the other stuff that I'm doing that I spend so much time on.
We have so much, Skee.TV, we have another few music videos coming up so we've got six number one videos in the past couple years so hopefully we can continue that trend onto 2011 and continue to grow on that platform. For me, we have the Skeetox Live Show – that's pretty intense. It's almost like an ultimate live musical experience. If you haven't seen it, I'm almost operating as the lead singer and the DJ where I'm playing the vocals and conducting a live seven-piece band who's all creating the music live underneath it, remixing it, we have crazy productions by it. It's really the ultimate live, not just DJ show, but musical experience and in between a lot of time we'll bring out special guests. So you might hear a Snoop song and he might walk out. I'm really excited about it. We just launched that show in April of 2010 so we're less than a year in. On the radio front, I'm really looking to expand the marketplace so we have some cool things in the works on the radio side. Just being involved in cool, new artists, there's a bunch of new artists that we're working with that we're super excited about. Breaking them and watching them go from no name to superstars is always a fun thing, so we're just continue to do what we do and expand.