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DJ IKON is one of the hottest and most in-demand DJs in Washington DC, but his path to success hasn’t been easy. Let’s take a look at 10 things you didn’t know about the nation’s capital hottest DJ!


1) New name

Since he was 16, DJ Ikon has gone by numerous aliases. The Champagne Kid, H-Town’s Finest, and Tom Thomas are a few. But it wasn’t until he played a sold-out show in Oslo last year that he discovered his current moniker would stick. The club promoter had been calling me ‘Champagne’ for months, he says. ‘You’re like champagne,’ she’d say.


2) Past experience

In addition to appearing at events like ACL and SXSW, DJ IKON has also done a good deal of spinning behind closed doors. His list of gigs include performing at South by Southwest, being in-house DJ for Beverly Hills’ Beacher’s Madhouse, and headlining New York Fashion Week twice with his party/fashion show Bump & Grind. However you define him—as an artist or just as one heck of a party promoter—DJ IKON has proven that he can move crowds in all settings. Here are 10 facts about DJ IKON


3) Swagger

It’s hard to know what exactly separates an ordinary turntablist from a great one. Is it musical skill? Quality of records? Or simply that certain it factor? Well, if you ask DJ IKON, he would say it’s all about swagger. True enough, his outgoing personality definitely helps him stand out from other djs on stage. Ask DJ IKON about his love for hip-hop and house music and he will describe how these genres have shaped him as a person. After spending countless hours mastering those skills in front of audiences and honing his craft at backyard parties, DJ IKON was destined to rise to stardom.


4) Music knowledge

DJ IKON grew up around a lot of music. Both of his parents were musicians, and he has seen many aspects of how professional music is made and how it can be distributed to audiences. He’s been listening to (and making) music since age three when he started on piano and drums, both of which he was soon proficient in. As a result, DJ IKON recognizes just how powerful music can be for listeners and performers alike. He takes pride in his ability to move people with sound; you will rarely see him perform without headphones as part of his standard equipment so that he can listen to both himself and his audience at all times.


5) Promotional skills

When you’re starting out, it’s important to get your name out there and build a fan base. The best way to do that is by marketing yourself online and in public. Whether you make posters at home or hire a professional promoter, getting flyers in clubs and promoting yourself on social media are both good ways to spread your name. And if your friends have any music equipment or know someone who does, consider doing some mixing for them as well.


6) Musical influences

DJ IKON was first introduced to house music at a young age, before he even turned 10. Growing up, he listened to various forms of music from old school R&B and funk to rock and country. He also listened heavily to gospel as a child in church. After DJing for nearly 20 years now, he has been influenced by all these genres of music in his sets today. However, it is house that makes up 80% of his DJ sets but always with a bit of something different thrown in there every now and then.


7) Influential friends

Though DJ IKON is known for his skills as a turntablist, he credits other musicians as inspiration and influence. In 10th grade, we had to do a report on someone famous who inspired us, recalls DJ IKON. We could pick anyone in any field; we didn’t have to be musicians. My buddy picked Radiohead’s lead singer, Thom Yorke. He showed me one of their videos—and all of a sudden everything made sense: that was what music was supposed to be. Music appreciation, it seems, can be contagious: later that year DJ IKON bought a pair of Technics 1200s for his friend’s birthday—and got them scratching together by springtime.


8) Web presence

DJ IKON has an extensive web presence, which comes in handy for his fans who want to learn more about him. It also makes it easy for anyone wanting to book him for a party or private event, since he’s got a clearly defined contact page and information that potential clients need. And while there are other popular DJs on YouTube, DJ IKON has channel videos showcasing his skills and providing valuable content for fans. The video DJ Techniques: Volume 1 is particularly useful if you’re interested in learning how to produce music like a pro.


9) Future goals

Growing up in Queens, New York, DJ IKON always dreamed of becoming a professional DJ. Always known for his competitive streak and sharp focus, he used these traits to fine-tune his turntable skills at hip-hop clubs throughout New York City. By age 14, DJ IKON was competing on one of New York’s hottest underground mixtapes, The Battle Zone. With an ever-growing following that includes some of today’s biggest rap artists like Jay Z and Kanye West; it’s no surprise that DJ IKON has had impressive success since then.


10) Hot take – where would you see him in 2 years?

It’s difficult to say, but in two years’ time it will be interesting to see where DJ IKON has ended up. From what we know of him now, he doesn’t seem like a big club kid (although with his dancefloor-focused tracks that’s not a huge surprise), but with great popularity on SoundCloud it wouldn’t be out of place for him to take off and really become a large part of mainstream music. It’s not inconceivable – many DJs like Marshmello have managed to do just that and without even releasing an album or song; simply by blowing up over social media.