Ever thought you had made the best playlist? That if you just knew how, you’d make the best DJ? Or maybe you’ve never thought of it as more than a hobby. For CU Denver student James Pope, what started as a hobby has turned into a passion.
Pope is an undergraduate student working toward a recording arts degree in the College of Arts & Media as well as a business degree from the Business School. As a full-time student, working a full-time job, all while pursuing his passion as a DJ, Pope doesn’t hold anything back. “Doing more creates more opportunity,” he said.
With a truly entrepreneurial spirit, Pope is carving out his own path in life.
“It started as a hobby when I bought my first mixer three years ago,” said Pope. “I taught myself a lot of what I know from YouTube and the harder I worked, the more passionate I became.” Since then he has played nearly 75 events and shows.
“My biggest shows have been a prom in the Springs and a contest at The Church nightclub,” said Pope. “Whether I’m playing at a wedding, a graduation party, or a venue downtown, I get a lot of experience working with different kinds of people and in different venues.” Being a DJ means being able to sell yourself and work with a wide range of clients, something Pope has shown he is more than capable of accomplishing.
It might seem like playing music for large crowds would be the most nerve-wracking part of being a DJ, but Pope will tell you otherwise. “The hardest part is balancing my work DJing with school and a full-time job,” he said.
Working under the name DJ Xkape, Pope manages his brand the same as he would a business. “Being taught by professionals in CAM has taught me how to be adaptive while building my career from the ground up,” he said.
Pope expresses his creativity by searching out and playing new music and building up his own image. He designed the Xkape logo himself and, with over 360 followers on Facebook, Pope maintains a strong social media presence. You can find the music of DJ Xkape on Spotify, Soundcloud and even iTunes. “Eventually, I want to get more into the business side and continue producing my own music on a larger scale,” he said.
Experimenting in the city
Part of being a DJ is managing the technical skills alongside channeling your own creative energy. Every event brings a new audience and new set of expectations – and going to college at CU Denver in the heart of the city offers ample venues in which to experiment. “I try something, and if it works I keep doing it,” said Pope.
“I have to adapt the creative side based on the audience reaction.” Being a DJ is an opportunity to make music in the moment and get immediate feedback. “It’s all about the live experience and how music is mixed together,” he said.
Making music is such an energetic business, it’s no surprise audience reaction is an essential part of what a DJ does. “My job is to make you move and bounce,” said Pope. DJ Xkape’s music is electronic dance music, and every event is more than a show; It’s an interaction with the audience.
“I love to have someone listen to my music and know that it helps them through their day,” he said. “I want to connect to people through music, in a way that motivates them to do something in their own lives.”
For Pope, the music was only one of his motivations. “I couldn’t have done all of this without the support of my family and friends – they have been my biggest fans and my biggest supporters.”