On the Record with DJ Irie
By Craig Skilling
It is no secret DJ Irie has conquered the world of music, but he has also proved to be well-rounded in other aspects of his life. One of his biggest accomplishments includes his Irie Foundation, through which he has successfully helped steer at-risk children in South Florida towards the right direction for a promising future. Becoming the NBA’s first in-house DJ, he has paved the way for countless NBA musical entertainers. With Irie Weekend having celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, there is no telling what the Miami Heat DJ cannot do. His highly driven sense of ambition and wholesome personality are just a couple of reasons why Miami has come to admire and respect the talented DJ. MSM sits down with DJ Irie to catch up:
MSM: How did you come up with the name DJ Irie?
DI: Right before I was introduced on stage at my first gig ever, the head DJ asked for my name. When I told him “DJ Ian,” he laughed and said I need to come up with a better one. Based on my Jamaican background and the meaning of the word, he named me with “DJ Irie” which means “peace and positivity.”
MSM: Talk to us about your success to date and milestones you are proud of.
DI: I’m blessed. One of the most prolific things for me would be the launch of my Irie Foundation, through which I’ve been able to meet so many amazing people, and have been able to give back. We’ve awarded scholarships and raised thousands of dollars for so many organizations and causes. Another milestone for me has been performing at the Fifa World Cup Final in Rio. That is something I couldn’t have possibly even dreamed of taking part in.
MSM: You recently hosted your 10th Annual Irie Weekend. Can you share with our readers the motivation for starting Irie Weekend and how you have been able to sustain the model for continued success and growth with this being your 10th annual event? Who does Irie Weekend benefit and why?
DI: Having previously worked with Alonzo Mourning and Zo’s Summer Groove to raise money for local charities, I had experience in participating in causes. I needed a main driver of raising funds for awareness and came up with Irie Weekend. I knew setting up a golf tournament would attract enough attention to get people involved. And, it was, by far, the best choice because we have been able to forge so many relationships through it. The biggest takeaway from having the 10th anniversary was how taken back I was from the scale of the event. With the Irie Foundation, we’re involved in all areas of at-risk youth to fill the voids. We created After School All-Stars, partnered with Jason Taylor as a reading program, and also the Cultural Passport Programs to offer a constructive program where students could continue to learn and become well-rounded.
MSM: At the event, you announced that your parents, who reside in Jamaica, were experiencing Irie Weekend for the first time. How did it feel to be able to share this milestone event with your parents?
DI: It was beyond special and meaningful. My parents have been the pillar of our family. Their guidance and life lessons have made me the person I am today. Immediately after the event, they called me to say they were pleasantly surprised and didn’t realize how huge it was before. That made the 10th anniversary milestone extra special.
MSM: What drives you to wake-up and keep going on this fast-paced schedule?
DI: I’m a morning person, first off, but I know the work is never done – I’m driven by the sense of urgency of what is on the horizon.
MSM: You conquer everything you put your hands on. Is it safe to say that DJ Irie is not just a businessman but a brand? Why or why not?
DI: The best part about it is that we’ve combined this passion of music with the art form of deejaying to create something even more significant. To be able to have a business today that thrives from being innovative and making its own initiatives – whether I’m spinning a record or not – is a true testament to being a brand and a business on its own.
MSM: Tell MSM’s readers something interesting about yourself that only a few people know.
DI: I’m a history buff – World War I, II, and history in general.
MSM: You have worked for and with several celebrities and individuals of prominence and influence. Can you share your most memorable celebrity interaction to date and what made it most memorable?
DI: A couple of years ago my buddy, Jamie Foxx, invited me to DJ at a birthday party for Robert Downey Jr. It was an amazing night – anywhere you turned, you’d see a big-time celebrity. But the most memorable part of the night was when the party was at its peak and I look up to see Sting walking up to the dance floor with his partner. The funny thing is I was two records away from playing a remix of “Roxanne”, so I decided to play it at that moment. I’m looking over at Sting and he looks over at me so I give him that nod like “we have to do this for Rob” and he nodded back. Then, I threw him the microphone in the middle of the dance floor. He then begins to sing “Roxanne” and the whole place erupted! This felt literally right out of the movies. It was an insane and memorable moment.
MSM: Fast forward 10 years down the road. Where do you see yourself personally and professionally?
DI: I would like to step back from the rigorous travel and tour schedule – not to say I would completely disappear. I would like to focus on all the relationships I’ve forged throughout the years by connecting and engaging in a higher level with our audience.