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DJ Symphony hangs up his headphones in San Diego

Longtime Wu-Tang DJ is teaching his trade in Kearny Mesa

DJ Symphony made his mark; now he’s looking to share his skills.
DJ Symphony made his mark; now he’s looking to share his skills.

DJ Symphony, official DJ for GZA of Wu-Tang Clan, was born in New Jersey and raised in New York City, but now calls San Diego home. He became a DJ at nine, “many years ago, almost four decades, just about thirty-eight years. I wasn’t good at anything. I tried every sport: baseball, football, and even boxing. I hated school and wasn’t good at math.” His late brother DJ Kashief, who taught Symphony how to DJ for his rap group, passed away in September 2000. “I was just too young to be a part of it, so my mom made them give me the role of the DJ. Without turntables, because we were poor.” He had to pretend to DJ without equipment, until his mother bought him a cheap deck.

DJ Symphony has been playing with members from Wu-Tang Clan for close to twenty years. “Back in those days, it wasn’t like it is now, about instant gratification. You had to be really doing something.” He’d already been a DJ mixer for an overnight radio show at 102.5 KSFM in Sacramento, as well as DJing for Raz-B and B2K. Wu-Tang co-founder Raekwon was the first to sign him. “I was with Rae for many years. Then from Raekwon, I went to Ghostface Killah. From there, it was with Rae and Ghostface Killah. Then I was doing Wu legend tours with Cappadonna, GZA, Rae, Ghost, and Method Man.” 

Symphony ended up signing a full deal with GZA, where he’s remained for thirteen years. “Once you get to Wu Tang, you really don’t want to do anything outside of that, because you’re focused on building a brand within a brand. I put everything else aside and just toured the world full time. That’s how I made my staple in that group. I did countless tours, countless shows, and been everywhere in the world with Wu Tang artists.”

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His good friend Faizon Love, the actor who played Big Worm in the movie Friday, is a San Diegan, and encouraged Symphony to relocate. He made the move from Sacramento to San Diego in 2022. “Going into my forties, I realized I love water. Every time I was performing in San Diego with Wu-Tang and members of Wu-Tang, I fell in love with the place. Come on, you come across the Coronado Bridge, bro, it’s a sight in itself. Me living in other places, I’ve never seen a place like San Diego.”

DJ Symphony recently released his first studio album, Bigger Than Music. He didn’t want it limited to digital-only platforms, so he pressed a small vinyl run. “I made the album for me to have something for my two daughters, so they could see some of my accomplishments. It was also on my bucket list to hear myself on my own vinyl. I could have had one copy of that, and would have been grateful and satisfied.”

His current day job is lead instructor for Cuts DJ Academy in Kearny Mesa. He teaches a curriculum in music production, a kids music camp for ages 10 through 17, and a DJ certification program for ages 18 and over. Students learn how to DJ for a certain amount of time, and when they get good enough, they’re enrolled in a job placement program that gets them in front of audiences. “Once graduated, we push them into the job field so they can start earning money as a DJ. I remember learning how to be a DJ, there was never an outlet to be a DJ. You could be a DJ and have nowhere to spin. It’s a good thing to have a DJ academy to send the graduates to work when they finish. That gives them incentive and something to look forward to.” (They also offer DJ Date Night, where couples can come together and learn how to work the turntables together.)

Another upcoming effort is a collaboration with R&B performer Kayla Ramos on project they call Butterflies. Symphony would also like to get involved with rock music; he says that he wants to work with local tribute act Fleetwood Max sometime in the future. “I go to a lot of venues and like to watch rock bands. I’m heavy into drums and live rock bands. ‘Dago got a lot of undiscovered good talent. Since I’m here now, I might as well share my knowledge with as many people as possible. My brain is loaded with information. I’ve seen things nobody will ever see. Why not teach and share some of the knowledge before I leave this Earth?”

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DJ Symphony made his mark; now he’s looking to share his skills.
DJ Symphony made his mark; now he’s looking to share his skills.

DJ Symphony, official DJ for GZA of Wu-Tang Clan, was born in New Jersey and raised in New York City, but now calls San Diego home. He became a DJ at nine, “many years ago, almost four decades, just about thirty-eight years. I wasn’t good at anything. I tried every sport: baseball, football, and even boxing. I hated school and wasn’t good at math.” His late brother DJ Kashief, who taught Symphony how to DJ for his rap group, passed away in September 2000. “I was just too young to be a part of it, so my mom made them give me the role of the DJ. Without turntables, because we were poor.” He had to pretend to DJ without equipment, until his mother bought him a cheap deck.

DJ Symphony has been playing with members from Wu-Tang Clan for close to twenty years. “Back in those days, it wasn’t like it is now, about instant gratification. You had to be really doing something.” He’d already been a DJ mixer for an overnight radio show at 102.5 KSFM in Sacramento, as well as DJing for Raz-B and B2K. Wu-Tang co-founder Raekwon was the first to sign him. “I was with Rae for many years. Then from Raekwon, I went to Ghostface Killah. From there, it was with Rae and Ghostface Killah. Then I was doing Wu legend tours with Cappadonna, GZA, Rae, Ghost, and Method Man.” 

Symphony ended up signing a full deal with GZA, where he’s remained for thirteen years. “Once you get to Wu Tang, you really don’t want to do anything outside of that, because you’re focused on building a brand within a brand. I put everything else aside and just toured the world full time. That’s how I made my staple in that group. I did countless tours, countless shows, and been everywhere in the world with Wu Tang artists.”

Sponsored
Sponsored

His good friend Faizon Love, the actor who played Big Worm in the movie Friday, is a San Diegan, and encouraged Symphony to relocate. He made the move from Sacramento to San Diego in 2022. “Going into my forties, I realized I love water. Every time I was performing in San Diego with Wu-Tang and members of Wu-Tang, I fell in love with the place. Come on, you come across the Coronado Bridge, bro, it’s a sight in itself. Me living in other places, I’ve never seen a place like San Diego.”

DJ Symphony recently released his first studio album, Bigger Than Music. He didn’t want it limited to digital-only platforms, so he pressed a small vinyl run. “I made the album for me to have something for my two daughters, so they could see some of my accomplishments. It was also on my bucket list to hear myself on my own vinyl. I could have had one copy of that, and would have been grateful and satisfied.”

His current day job is lead instructor for Cuts DJ Academy in Kearny Mesa. He teaches a curriculum in music production, a kids music camp for ages 10 through 17, and a DJ certification program for ages 18 and over. Students learn how to DJ for a certain amount of time, and when they get good enough, they’re enrolled in a job placement program that gets them in front of audiences. “Once graduated, we push them into the job field so they can start earning money as a DJ. I remember learning how to be a DJ, there was never an outlet to be a DJ. You could be a DJ and have nowhere to spin. It’s a good thing to have a DJ academy to send the graduates to work when they finish. That gives them incentive and something to look forward to.” (They also offer DJ Date Night, where couples can come together and learn how to work the turntables together.)

Another upcoming effort is a collaboration with R&B performer Kayla Ramos on project they call Butterflies. Symphony would also like to get involved with rock music; he says that he wants to work with local tribute act Fleetwood Max sometime in the future. “I go to a lot of venues and like to watch rock bands. I’m heavy into drums and live rock bands. ‘Dago got a lot of undiscovered good talent. Since I’m here now, I might as well share my knowledge with as many people as possible. My brain is loaded with information. I’ve seen things nobody will ever see. Why not teach and share some of the knowledge before I leave this Earth?”

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