It’s entirely possible that if you hit a Washington Nationals baseball game and a DC area nightclub in the same 12-hour period, you’ll hear the sounds of veteran area spinner DJ Trayze at both locations. But Matthew Alexander is recognized far beyond the nation’s capital. The current U.S. champion of Red Bull’s vaunted Thre3style competition is gearing up for a trip to Chile this winter for the week-long world championships.
Thre3style challenges DJs in 24 national competitions worldwide to compose 15-minute mini-sets to “impress both the crowd and the judges with their originality, skills and track selection” while also playing at least three genres of music. The DJ notes that his winning performance was largely comprised of “snippets of things I’ve developed while spinning in the club,” that he “wrote down on Post-it notes, and then put together in an entertaining and cohesive set.”
One of the highlights of Trayze’s winning set at the competition in Philadelphia was the DJ dropping in a snippet of Kanye West’s 2013 single “Bound 2” that asks, “What you doing in the club on a Thursday?” Given that the competition was, indeed, on a Thursday, the statement’s meaning in the context of Thre3style flipped into a braggadocious showcase of hip-hop swagger consistent with a DJ battle.
Like many of his other DJing skills, this idea was derived from a party-igniting trick learned while performing at clubs – in this case, playing songs that are related to days of the week.
Regarding this idea, Trayze says, “I’ll be playing somewhere like [Dupont Circle’s] Heist on a Saturday night, and after midnight, I’ll play Cam’ron’s [2002-released hit rap single] ‘Hey Ma,’ which samples The Commodores’ [1977 soul hit] ‘Easy.’ At the appropriate time, I’ll blend ‘Hey Ma’ into the section where Lionel Richie sings, ‘Easy like Sunday morning,’ and it gets a huge reaction every time.”
This level of awareness is nothing new for Trayze, who notes that he “takes [his] craft seriously, and is always listening to and studying all sorts of music.” From “standing in Target while buying dish detergent and hearing a melody” to “always wanting to keep a unique and entertaining flow to a party,” Trayze says that “he wants to elevate the art of DJing and push [his own] music, talent, skill and creativity to the next level.”
When he’s not preparing for the Thre3style championships, Trayze is maintaining a frenetic schedule of local and national gigs. He’s also working on an EP of original music, and keeping up with life as a husband and father. What motivates his desire to excel at DJing while maintaining such a busy schedule?