How High School Micro Raves Led Westend to Discover DJing

Mar 16, 2023

Carolina Quijano

3 min read

Legend has it that in early aughts New York, when high school kids wanted to throw a house party, they had to find venues other than their homes, since most housing in NYC shares walls with neighbors. This meant getting fake IDs to rent a location, finding DJs, and getting cheap lights and lasers to set the vibe. The result? Low-end raves that introduced people like New York native, Westend to the world of DJing.

These mini-raves lit something inside the “Jumpin’” producer, and he realized he wanted to DJ and produce. He wanted to be the person providing the music.

“I want to do that, I wanted to set the tone. I wanted to be the one behind the deck controlling the energy, the room,” he told Gray Area during his Spotlight Interview.

He discovered electronic music in high school, mostly through YouTube. He repeatedly listened to Justice’s Cross album, dabbled in a little Daft Punk, and got into the blog house guys, like MSTRKRFT and The Bloody Beetroots. He was so obsessed with The Bloody Beetroots that he sported one of their Venom luchador masks at raves around the city.

His interest only grew from there. Then, in 2014, he attended his first show at Manhattan mega venue Terminal Five and had a musical epiphany.

“That was like the first time I got obsessed with music. It wasn’t just like listening to music in the car, I was like, this is going to be my personality.”

Westend in his high school music production class

Marisol Diaz

After that, he set out to learn all he could, and his high school was the perfect place to do so. He attended The Bronx School of Science, whose alums include Neil Degrasse Tyson and famed synth innovator and pioneer Robert Moog. While Westend was a student there, Moog’s family donated equipment to the school so that students could learn how to use synthesizers and create music digitally.

A 2013 article by Riverdale Press features then-high school senior Tyler Morris in some of his earliest interactions with production. “People that I look up to like Deadmau5 depend on synthesizers that were created by somebody at my school,” he told the reporter.

Things have come full circle for Westend, whose name is now synonymous with tech house off the back of dozens of releases on labels like Repopulate Mars, Armada Subjekt, Glasgow Underground, and Insomniac Records. After learning the ropes in high school production classes, he’s now the teacher for a community of musicians via his Kick & Bass community. He’s graduated from covert high school “house parties” to giant festival stages. These are massive accomplishments for a kid who wasn’t necessarily raised on music. And we can’t wait to see what he does next.

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