Our music editor, Cameron, recently sat down with DJ Trill as part of our COSIGN DJ Spotlight series. Their conversation is below:
Cameron: Thank you DJ Trill for being able to meet with us today. Well, let’s get started. Tell me a little about yourself.
Trill: I go by the name of DJ Trill, but my government name is Christopher Coleman. I grew up in Dallas and graduated from Duncanville High School and spent a year at Texas A&M Commerce. High school was when I first started DJing. During my senior year, I did a party at spring break. Back then I was already doing mixtapes, so I just decided to DJ live that one party. That’s how it got started. I was known back then as DJ Trillion Cutz. The name stems from a Houston influence because my family lives there. In Houston, there was a DJ named Princess Cutz and I thought that was a dope name. I was looking up grills because they were big back then, and I saw one that was trillion cut so I went with that. As you all know I shorted it to DJ Trill later.
What would you say is your biggest strengths as a DJ and what sets you apart from others?
My biggest strengths with DJing would be reading the crowd and the knowledge of music. I wouldn’t say that I’m the best at stretching but knowing the crowd, song selection, timing, transitions, and creativity. I might play a sitcom intro like Living Single or Moesha. I’m best at thinking outside the box besides playing what’s typical. I’m at the age where I’ve got the best of all worlds with music. My grandma exposed me to the 70’s and 80’s music like Al Green and The Temptations. Then my mom, she liked Mary J Blige and Ginuwine. Then to be able to come full circle into the 2000s and into the Trap era. When you’ve been around music for that long, you obtain a deep archive of knowledge and that helps you better determine what people want to hear.
What are your favorite type of gigs?
I love weddings. Just because the vibe is already positive versus like a club. A club you have to turn people up. Wedding people are already excited. I also love concerts. I love being on a big stage. It gives me a crazy amount of life. I did the Jacquees concert last week. The energy was crazy and I feed off that. For a DJ, that’s what brings the passion … the crowd.
That’s dope! So would you say energizing the crowd and being able to have them under your control would be your favorite part of the job?
Absolutely! To have them singing every word of a song at your control. There’s no better feeling than that.
What has been your proudest moment or your greatest accomplishment since you’ve been DJing?
Being able to DJ full time and not work. I didn’t think that me leaving a 9-to-5 would happen as fast as it did. I started back DJing in 2015, and at the time I was working for Capital One corporate. I had decided to not travel with them to Frisco when they moved from Irving. That’s when I made the decision to DJ full time. That summer I had my residences, but it was maybe only two or three. I stepped out on faith and told myself to see where it goes. I believed my skill could carry me and help support my family and it’s been doing it. I haven’t looked back since.
It’s good to see people stepping out on faith and making things happen. Speaking of which, if I’m a brand new DJ looking to get exposure and get booked, what advice would you have for me?
There’s two things. First, know what type of DJ you would like to be, because there’s so many. Just like rappers, everybody has their own lane that they focus on. For example, there are people that scratch and I compare them to lyricists. They’re the classic DJs like Jazzy Jeff and Premier. Then you have mixtape DJs that don’t really perform live. Then you have event DJs, like myself. It’s not as easy as people think it is. You’re controlling peoples’ emotions and they’ll know if you’re not ready. You can tell the difference between a good DJ and a bad one immediately. Second, you have to learn music. You can be taught the technique, but the hardest thing to mold is a music mind. Researching and learning music, to me, is the most important thing. If you’re already a music person then that part shouldn’t be as hard.
Speaking of having a music mind and knowing music, what’s on your playlist right now?
My playlist varies. I listen to Gunna. He’s hot in Atlanta right now and signed to Yung Thug. Then I like Daniel Caeser, to get a different vibe. I love The Internet; Syd Tha Kyd. Locally, I like Jason Lyric and I think he’s super underrated. T.Y.E Harris. He’s so creative. It’s crazy for me to see somebody that still has the Cliff in him, but as an artist, he’s above a lot of people when it comes to the artistry.
Are there any DJs, past or present, that you currently COSIGN?
Okay, so I’ll start my early DJ career when I was in high school. Since I have a Houston foundation, of course, there’s DJ Screw and big on OG Ron C. Ron C was a staple because he had the “F-Actions”. The mixtapes I made in high school were close to those, slow jam mixtapes that were chopped and screwed by me. Once I got older, it was DJ Mr. Rogers. Then DJ Blakk. He DJed with me in high school and Commerce. We use to always run music together. A few more are DJ Drop, Lil E, and J. Hustle. I was really young so those guys set the stage. These days I currently have to COSIGN DJ Q. I was opening for Q when I started back and I get a lot from him; watching what he does and hearing what he has to say. DJ Phife is another one. I’ve been with him ever since I came back.
Sounds like you’ve been making a lot of moves, especially for somebody who just came back in the game in 2015.
I been on the grind. But I knew a lot of people already and then I was promoting before I became a DJ, so that definitely helped.
Do you think that the DJing world is territorial?
I think it use to be. But I don’t think so much now. I would say that promoters are more territorial than DJs. But if you’re poppin’ you’re going to get booked.
What are some of your favorite samples?
Favorite Samples: “Today was a Good day” with Ice Cube and the Isley Brothers. Master P and Future with “Freak Hoe.” Then Kanye West’s “Slow Jam” sample that mixed in Luther.
Bruh, I liked that one too. I use to be able to rap all of Twista’s verse, not anymore though. What do you think about the current state of hip-hop and the evolution?
I think hip-hop is open. It’s not as bad as people think it is. For the artists, it’s harder to get signed but it’s not harder to make money. You have direct plugs to the outlets now with iTunes and Spotify, same as what a signed artist would have. If you’re independent and you build your fan base, you can make a living of music without being signed. When I say hip-hop is open, you have the Lil Uzi Vert’s on one hand and then you have the J.Cole’s, Drake’s, and Jay’s. Nobody is forcing you to like anybody because you still have options and people are still creating good music. As I get older, I’m not gonna understand what somebody at 18 listens to. I get it. When I was 18, I listened to Crime Mob and probably people back then didn’t understand that. It’s going to continue to keep changing over time.
Speaking of time, where do you see yourself in five years?
Man, hopefully like DJ Khaled. I look at Khaled as a staple of my direction, as to where I want to be. I don’t know any DJ that’s doing what he’s doing. He was grinding in the clubs and promoting like me. People that I know from Miami tell me all the time they watched Khaled grow just like how I’m growing. To see him be just as big as a major artist is insane. So in five years, I mean it isn’t too far fetched, probably I’d like to be where he was during the “I’m So Hood” era (like 2010) not so much the “I Got The Keys” era.
Where can the good people follow you and see you?
Social Media, my IG is @trillionthedj and Snapchat is @trillioncutz. If any artists would like to send me their music, they can send it to email@example.com. I’m at Gator’s every Wednesday, at Status on Friday, at Tate’s for a day party on Saturday, and Townhouse every Sunday. Those are my residencies, but I always move around.
The people want to know bro, when are you bringing back Music Mondays? Can you give us a COSIGN exclusive?
I’m looking for mid-summer. I just want to get everything situated because I’m not in a rush to put it out there if it’s not ready. I know people have been asking me about it but we’ll get there. We’re definitely going to bring it back.
If you could created a 15 song playlist of artists that you COSIGN (both local and non-local) who would be on it?
DJ Trill’s Customized COSIGNed Playlist