DJ LIL’ JOHN™ – “I’m A Low-Key Computer Geek”
DJ LIL’ JOHN™ is without question one of Chicago’s most well-known DJs. Nationally and internationally, millions of listeners have heard his “hands do the talking”, as he mixed a variety of music on-the-air for almost three decades!! From the college radio station WKKC 89.3fm (1980’s), summer guest spots on the Top 40 powerhouse WBBM 96.3fm (1990’s), to the Midwest’s #1 urban station WGCI 107.5fm (2001-2009), and syndicated shows on the infamous CORE DJs™ Radio Show, heard on 30-40 stations nationwide. He even loaned his talents to the country of Bermuda, with his 5 o’clock R&B mixes on HOTT 107.5fm radio, as well as two years of weekly House mixes on Pressure Radio in the UK! WOW!!!
No stranger to the streets, DJ LIL’ JOHN™ has an infinite list of night club appearances, concerts, industry events, celebrity parties, weddings, etc. For over five years, he hosted his own event, the MONDAY MINGLE™, which quickly became the “place to be” when record labels brought in national artists like Ludacris, Trey Songz, Ghostface Killa, and countless others to “mingle” with Chi-town’s aspiring artists and local deejays.
Nationally (and internationally), DJ LIL’ JOHN™ has been blazing the airwaves and rocking the crowds in San Francisco, Phoenix, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, and more. From spinning onstage with R&B legend Charlie Wilson to political events for 1st Lady Michelle Obama, from local high schools to the concert halls & sports stadiums, you’ve heard the signature sound of DJ LIL’ JOHN™!
CURRENTLY, you can catch him on air every Friday night on the radio show “CLUB 1063” (along with the legendary DJ Mike Dunn) from 9pm-1am cst on WSRB / Soul 106.3 FM, mixing the latest in House Music. If you’re outside of Chicago, you can hear the show online at www.soul1063radio.com.
S&S: What’s your style of music? How do you describe it?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: My primary style of music is soulful House music, with soulful vocals, jazzy melodies, a true bassline, and some kick-ass drums! But when you catch my DJ set, you’ll hear me sprinkle in some tribal beats, some Philly/NYC/Chicago classics, a few Latin grooves, and a few tech house tracks as well…
S&S: Who or what was most instrumental to you when it came to music?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: That credit goes to my aunt Charlie Mae (R.I.P.) She was my live-in babysitter since birth, played her music (loud) while I slept in my cradle. My mom would turn down the music, and I would wake up crying… Til the volume went back up, lol!!
S&S: What drives you creatively?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: I was a musician since I was 8yrs old, and between the piano & drum lessons, I was all about female jazz songs & Motown. Creatively, all I need is a vocal melody or full acapella, and I create the music around it
S&S: How much does your audience influence you and your music selection?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: The audience always has and always will influence my music selections. But they don’t dictate what I play – I’m not a jukebox. If the audience doesn’t move, doesn’t respond, I’ll switch musical gears (within reason) until they do…
S&S: What artists or genres do you listen to when you’re not working?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: Funny thing is, my “go-to” radio station is news radio mostly, LOL! That’s only because, with all that I do on a daily basis, I don’t wanna miss out on life around me… But my go to music genre varies between 80’s & 90’s Hip-Hop/R&B and soulful House music
S&S: Do you have any favorite memories of growing up with your family?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: One of my all-time fave memories with my family was the first time my parents let me DJ for THEIR friends!! You know, back in the days when the kids all played upstairs while the adults partied in the basement! I was mature at 10-11 yrs old, and I knew all of their fave songs. They let me play the music that night, and EVERY song I dropped garnered a loud “HAAAAYYYY!!! Lil’ John John, you JAMMIN!!!” And as they say, the rest was history…
S&S: Is there anything you would like people to know about you?
LJ: Most people don’t know, I am a low-key computer geek!! Always have been, lol! I took apart anything & everything electronic when I was a kid, figured out how to put it all back together when I was a teen, and now I’m approaching my 4th year at Apple as a certified repair technician, with the job title “Mac Genius”!
S&S: Are there any charities you are working with or excited to tell us about?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: Back when Hurricane Katrina hit the South, I spent a couple days in front of Operation PUSH headquarters, where we collected care items donated by hundreds of Chicagoans. We had more boxed items than we had trucks, and then the blessing came: Jewel/Osco (and/or Dominicks) literally donated about a dozen semi trucks and drivers! You could see & hear our excitement, as we loaded up the trucks, and they immediately hit the highway heading to Louisiana!
S&S: Are there any questions that you wish people would ask you?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: None that I can think of…
S&S: And on the flip side of that, are there any questions or references you wish people would stop asking or using?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: Nah… I live by Serenity: I accept the things that I cannot change…
S&S: What artist(s) have you been the most excited to work with?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: I haven’t worked with a lot of artists. But during my Large Records days (’92-’95), and thanks to my breakout song “I’m Leavin’ You” by Ulysses, I think I got to meet everyone industry-wise that mattered: Tony Humphries, Roger S, Mark “MK” Kinchen, Ralph & Oscar (aka Murk), Todd Terry, DJ Disciple, Kerri Chandler, Jay-J, Chris Lum & RaSoul, and Louie Vega, who single-handedly broke the song at the Sound Factory Bar in New York
S&S: What can we look forward to next from you?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: That’s a good question, LOL! Between the day job (Apple), recording radio mixes for WSRB 106.3, and the various club & corporate DJ gigs, I try to squeeze in a lil time to mess around with Logic Pro and Native Instruments software. So we’ll see what’s next.
S&S: What legacy would you like to leave?
DJ LIL’ JOHN™: I can’t think of any “legacy” that I’d like to leave behind. But, in some of the same words recorded by the late Dr. King: “tell them not to mention, the two or three dozen awards I’ve received, that’s not important. When I leave this earth, I want you to tell them that DJ LIL’ JOHN tried to help somebody…”
- Ralph & Louie – “Our Fans Are What Most Drives Us” - September 29, 2017
- The 4th Annual House Music Block Party Recap - August 31, 2017
- Steve “Silk” Hurley & Shannon “DJ Skip” Syas at SAE Cultural Impact Awards - August 28, 2017
- 11th Annual Global Mixx Game Changer Award Recipients Shannon “DJ Skip” Syas & Steve “Silk”Hurley - August 24, 2017
- Steve “Silk” Hurley Live @ CFP Chicago - August 18, 2017
- Ralph Tresvant – Inside The Ride Radio Show - August 2, 2017
- Various Artist – Ain’t That A Beach Vol.2 - July 18, 2017
- City of Chicago :: Millennium Park – Chicago House Music Party - June 3, 2017
- Steve “Silk” Hurley & Cece Peniston Live @ Chosen Few Music Festival 2017 (Chicago) - May 24, 2017
- The S&S Experience at Sea Interest Survey - May 7, 2017