If remix artist Dee Jay Silver is doing his job, the party never stops for the crowd at a Jason Aldean concert.
He’s there to energize fans with his inventive blast of uptempo hits — most, but not all of them country — so they’re on their feet when the high-powered country star walks onstage.
This is Silver’s eighth tour with Aldean, who is scheduled to perform Thursday at a sold-out Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena. Chris Young and Kane Brown are also part of the lineup.
Silver is an open-format DJ, meaning his mixes and mash-ups pull from many kinds of music, depending on the venue. When he’s opening for Aldean, he keeps it more country, since that’s the foundation for the headliner’s success.
But country music fans are more accommodating than ever to a mix of musical influences, said Silver, who in 2013 became the first DJ to be signed to a major Nashville label. So he’s comfortable throwing in a few surprises when he’s out there spinning.
Silver talked about the life and role of a remixer in a recent telephone interview from his home in Nashville.
He had just returned from a weekend country music festival in Michigan, gone into the studio to record his weekly syndicated radio show, and was planning to head out in a few days for another music fest — this one in Canada — before resuming the Aldean tour, which started in April. He also has multiple residencies in Las Vegas.
Busy? Yes, but Silver said he loves the work.
“Yeah, it gets tiring sometimes, but at the end of the day, we’re so blessed to get to do what we do for a living,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Is there a difference between your road shows, like the one you’ll do in Jacksonville, and your shows in Las Vegas?
Oh, for sure. I always tell everybody I live the best of both worlds. Because I get to play music I love during the day, and music I love at night. So when I’m out with Jason, it’s all Top 40, country kind of mixes and mashups, and in Vegas, it’s party rock, big room house music. We can the take gloves off a bit more in Las Vegas. Whereas with Jason, I want to get the party going, and I want to do it right, but I would never do anything that would jeopardize or embarrass Jason.
With Jason, you have a very specific mission.
I always tell everybody my job is to make sure the dude in the cowboy hat is set up and ready to go. It’s not a Dee Jay Silver show, it’s Dee Jay Silver setting up for the superstar. All I want to do is knock off that nervous energy and let people get all their excitement built up, get some drinks, meet their neighbors, and just get ready to party with Jason.
And there aren’t really any breaks in the concert.
No. Jason always said, from day one when he was explaining to people why he had a DJ, “The minute they punch their ticket, I want them to have to have an experience.” As soon as Kane Brown goes on, the show starts. As soon as Kane finishes, I walk on, and for about five minutes welcome everybody out: “Get a drink, be careful, be respectful of your neighbors, have a good time.” Then Chris Young comes on. I go on from 9 to 9:30, and we just turn the party up, until Jason steps on the stage and takes it to the next level.
When you start a tour, have you worked out what you’re going to play and stick with it?
Every city is different. What works in Jacksonville may not work in Cleveland. I have a file that just says “Aldean 2017,” and it’s probably 250 to 300 songs that I believe will work. You’ve got to know Jason’s crowd. … He wants it to be all amped up. … [But] I try to make it different.
Does Jason ever make suggestions?
Sometimes he’ll say, “I really don’t like that song,” or whatever, so I throw it out. But the first day I went out with him, I said, “Is there anything you want me to or don’t want me to do?” Because Jason’s different than most. Some people limit you and lower the volume. Jason would never do that. He goes, “No offense, but no matter what you do, if I can’t bring it bigger, harder and faster, I’m doing something wrong.”
But you don’t pull just from country music, even for a country music concert. Is that a sign that country music fans are more sophisticated?
The same people going to Aldean on a Friday are going to Bruno Mars on Saturday. The days of just listening to country music, or not listening to country music, are over. Everyone has country music of some sort on their playlist, on Spotify. Just like they’re going to have Drake. Just like they’re going to have Maroon 5. Just like they’re going to have Bruno Mars, they’re going to have Aldean right in the middle of it. At the end of the day — and Jason’s always told me — good music is good music. I think you’re seeing people like Sam Hunt and Chris Lane and Brett Young and Thomas Rhett blurring the lines, showing you how big and fast of a world country music is.
How long did it take for the music industry to accept you?
For a solid two years of my life, I had to explain what I did every day. “You’re a DJ and you’re going to play country music?” “Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” “Hold on. You’re going to play rap music? “Yeah, but just because I’m a DJ doesn’t mean I’m going to play rap music all night.” Then I got up there and showed them you can play Alabama with Run-D.M.C.’s “Walk This Way.” You can play “Dust on the Bottle” with J-Kwon’s “Tipsy.” You can play Pitbull with “Dirt Road Anthem.” I mean, it works. It just blurs the lines, it keeps the party going. I think all of anything is too much of anything. I think there’s too much great music out there for a person to only listen to one form of music.
Do you ever just listen to a song for pure pleasure, or is there always a sense that maybe you can use it?
I know it’s kind of cliché to say music’s my happy space. So I have a playlist that would probably bore the — — out of you, man. Yeah, like John Mayer. I dig John Mayer. … Probably one of my favorite songs is Chris Young’s “Nothing but the Cooler Left.” That’s never seen the light of day. And things like “Cowboy Lady” by Jason Aldean. One of the best songs I’ve ever heard in my life, but unless you’re a die-hard Aldean fan, you’re never going to hear it. It’s funny. I was in an elevator at the MGM Grand in Vegas a couple months back and heard the song and Shazam-ed it, “Karate” by Kennedy. I was like, “That is the greatest song I’ve heard in a long time.”
I was walking to a restaurant in Nashville the other day. This lady stopped me, and she said, “Hey, I just want to tell you, I follow your Spotify playlist, I’ve never heard of any of that stuff. It just made my day. You totally just opened my world to 25 different artists.” At that the end of the day, that’s the only thing you need, deejaying, is to just let people know there’s so much good music out there.
David Crumpler: (904) 359-4164