Phillip Rollins, better known as DJ Young Venom, is a 29-year-old native of Jackson, Mississippi. He was a graduate of Madison Central High School and later attended Jackson State University, majoring in Graphic Design. After his grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer, Rollins dropped out of college and pursued his dream of DJing.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: How long have you been DJing?
DJ Young Venom: I’ve been DJing for about nine years. I got my start at Seven Studios over on Millsaps Avenue and I was DJing for Poetry Night on Sundays. After that, I started doing Fridays and it was me, Phingaprint, DJ Nick and DJ Selective. It was like three rooms and DJ Selective played reggae, and me and Nick, we tag-teamed in the front room mixing old and new school hip-hop, and Phingaprint just played whatever the hell he felt like, cause he could do that. [laughs]
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: What got you interested in DJing? Was it just your love of music?
YV: Yeah, like, I really honestly wanted to be a graphic designer or animator growing up, but I always listened to music while drawing. So, it kind of fell in too, and my god-brothers and sisters they always were into music. I learned a lot about different music because if it weren’t for them all I would’ve known would be Cash Money, No Limit, and Three Six Mafia. They exposed me to Camp Lo, Jay Z, and everybody else who weren’t the norm. It was people that I would see on “Rap City”, but it wasn’t like stuff that I would see in the barbershop. I really just started exposing myself to more and more music after just following their lead, even as and when they weren’t around.
Also my little god-brother, Shelby, started a music label and named me A&R because he knew of my ear for music and once it folded, I decided that I still wanted to be a DJ, so I started interning at 97.7 FM back when it was HOT 97. I was under Kwasi and even though I was under him, I would stay and watch them.
That and the movie Juice.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: [laughs] So you wanted to be like Q?
YV: DJ GQ. Who doesn’t wanna be like DJ GQ?
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: So who are some of your favorite artists or your favorite genre of music?
DJ YV: I don’t have one. If I had to pinpoint it to one or two, I would say: Soul, Hip-Hop, and probably House.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: House? Define House for me?
YV: It’s kind of hard to define House. It kind of derives from disco. It’s so many sub-genres of House. You have your Chicago House, which is more soulful. You’ll hear like the organs playing and stuff like that, kind of has a gospel flavor to it. Then you have your Techno House, you’ll hear that in Detroit. Baltimore-style House is really fast and upbeat. Then you have your French House, which is what most people know now, due to Daft Punk. So, if you’ve ever listened to Daft Punk, that’s French House.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: So what are some of your favorite songs right now? What’s always on your iPhone playlist or when you’re DJing?
YV: It changes everyday! But the artist I’m listening to now is called Toro Y Moi. He’s from South Carolina. He’s apart of this genre that’s called Chillwave. It’s kind of soulful, but it’s more upbeat. It’s not all love songs, but most of it is. So that’s what I’ve been listening to..
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Cool! I’m going to writet him down and look him up! You totally put me onto something new! How did you hone your craft? Did you buy yourself turntables and sit in the basement like Q?
YV: Um, I bought my set. It was like two CD turntables and it wasn’t really what I wanted. I wanted the real turntables, but I knew I didn’t have the money to buy the records. Once I got them though I said I should at least learn the basics. Because I knew that if I wanted to make money I needed to know how to blend and mix.
And from that point I learned from DJ Delo. He used to be the DJ at The Upper Level. I’d just go over there and sit in the booth, drink Corona, and later on throughout the week, I’d just go to his house and practice. He’d say, “Iight, you gone practice two songs until you get em right. Now pick your two songs”. At that time Pharrell and Kanye’s “Number One” and Pharrell “Frontin” was hot, so that what I had to mix. And from there it was just practice, experimenting, and constantly trying to push the envelope.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Do you ever want to get back into Graphic Design later or is DJing it for you? If not, where do you see yourself in five years?
YV: Nah, DJing is it. The pen isn’t sharp anymore. Touring, hopefully with other DJs, as well as a local artist called Seven Thirty.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: So who are your top three DJs?
YV: DJ Scratch, Jazzy Jeff, and Q-Bert.
JESSICASIMIEN.COM: Last one, what do you aspire to do through DJing?
YV: I just aspire to really influence people culturally through music, and expose them to new music.