Electronic music catches on with local DJ Leo Silva

Ben Lippert


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Girl Talk and Daft Punk are probably a couple artists that come to mind when you think about famous DJ’s. Meet Leo Silva, a part-time student and full-time music lover. He’s made a name for himself as a prestigious DJ in the Midwest. Silva got his start by playing at house parties and nightclubs; his next gig is opening for Jason Derulo at the Frost Arena on April 14.

Ben: Tell me a little about your background. You’re from Sioux Falls right?

Leo: Originally I’m from Brazil actually, but I’ve been in the Midwest for quite a while. I grew up in Seattle and went to high school in Sioux Falls, and I’ve been at SDSU ever since.

Ben: How did you get into DJ-ing?

Leo: Well, I’ve always been into music but DJ-ing is relatively new. I was really into jazz, really into the whole jam band scenes. I had a couple bands, had a couple ensembles, but those broke up in high school once everyone went to college in different areas of the country.

Ben: Was there an influence that pushed you to try DJ-ing?

Leo: Electronic music is very popular all over the world. I always compare it to soccer and the metrics system where the United States are the only people that haven’t caught on yet. I’ve personally been doing it for two or three years now, but only publicly for about a year because I never thought it would catch on. Pretty much all pop music has some type of electronic influence.

Ben: How would you describe your style of DJ-ing?

Leo: I’ve always really enjoyed the “live” element of bands. Like I said, I was really big into the jam band scene; like Dave Mathews, Phish, and Umphrey’s McGee. So I really try to keep as much of it “live” as possible. I play around with a lot of loops, I drop acapellas, I try to keep it as much of a show performance as possible, but one of the really cool things about DJ-ing is that there really is no rules. I mean, as long as it sounds good, it doesn’t really matter what you’re doing back there.

Ben: What sort of gigs do you play mostly right now? I know you have a pretty regular show at Club David in Sioux Falls.

Leo: I do about every two weeks at Club David, it comes out to roughly twice a month. Next week I’ll be opening for Jason Derulo, so that’s big, that’s major. Saturday I’ll be at The 9 in Brookings. Sunday I’m at The 9 again, then back at Club David. Then the 30th I’m up in Minnesota; I’m doing a festival at St. John’s University. This summer I’ll be doing LifeLight, opening up for Terrance Parker who’s a huge DJ. It’s kind of a new thing they’re doing at LifeLight is bringing in some famous DJ’s. I’m also in the works with some other stuff down in Phoenix and Austin.

Ben: That’s pretty crazy! Your name is definitely getting out there. Are you all self-promoted or do you have anyone that helps you with all that?

Leo: I’m self-promoting as of right now. Different events that I do have promoters who will promote me.

Ben: What has been your favorite gig or memory thus far?

Leo: Halloween at Club David was crazy, that was nuts. Honestly, I’ve been very fortunate to play for a lot of people. I really care a lot more when people are into the music. I mean, sometimes a simple house party can be a lot more fun than a club with 200 people. I still do a lot of house parties, I still do random things here and there, so it really just depends on the atmosphere.

Ben: You were chose to open for Jason Derulo at Frost Arena. Tell me how that all worked out.

Leo: I was contacted by UPC as one of the openers that they wanted to have, and I was approved by Derulo’s management and given the green light to go. It’s news to me, but I’m really excited.

Ben: What does this show mean to you and to your career?

Leo: Numbers-wise it’s definitely the biggest show I’ve done. I’m really excited, it’s gonna be really cool to rock the Frost Arena.

Ben: Do you hope to make a career out of DJ-ing?

Leo: Who knows, with the job market the way it is you never know. I love DJ-ing. If I weren’t DJ-ing on stage I’d still be DJ-ing in my basement, so it’s something I’m going to stick with whether it be in front of lots of people or nobody.

Ben: Where do you see this going or where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Leo: I have no idea, maybe Europe. I honestly hope that this continues. I really love DJ-ing. I think I have more fun than anybody there, so as long as I’m still enjoying the music and people are enjoying listening to it, I’ll continue as long as I get invited.

If you haven’t heard Leo Silva’s live DJ-ing and mashup skills, you can see him live at Frost Arena on April 14, when he opens for Jason Derulo. This will be the largest performance of Silva’s young career. Go beyond the black and white by watching my full video interview with Silva on our website.

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