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Jamie Lamberski

How to DJ for President Obama and Bernie Sanders

"I want you to play for the president in Chicago for election night."

DJ Mel went from borrowing a neighbor's mixer to becoming the premier DJ of the Austin warehouse party scene. He was the Monday night resident at Nasty's and eventually the recipient of several local Best DJ awards. Oh... and then he was asked to spin for President Obama on election night.

"I just wanted to shake his hand and tell him that I appreciate him," Mel said in a recent interview with GuideLive.

A few months after DJing at the California delegation's party at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, his friend who worked at the White House called him up and asked what he was doing on Tuesday, election night. The Obama campaign gave him 50 songs to play at the event, but since it took much longer than anticipated for the results to roll in, his friend told him to "do [his] thing."

A fan of Ferris Bueller's Day Off, he decided to play "Twist and Shout."

"I don't know why I had the presence of mind to play it," Mel said. "When I played it the place just went nuts."

As he worked the crowd, celebrities like QuestLove and Mark Ronson were hopping on social media to ask who was DJing the event.

"To this day, I'm not really aware of the enormity of the event," Mel said.

Soon after he was asked to DJ National Day of Service and the inauguration, where he introduced big-name performers Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Usher and Jamie Foxx. He became the White House's go-to DJ, whether for the annual Easter Egg Roll or the upcoming 2016 bash.


Someone from Bernie's campaign thought of him when it came to planning for the Iowa caucus. After DJ Mel reviewed the issues and Sanders' platform, he was feeling the Bern and took the gig.

"He isn't just saying the right thing to get votes," Mel said. "He marched with Martin Luther King. He's legit."

He played songs like David Bowie’s "Starman" and Bruce Springsteen’s "We Take Care of Our Own." Although Bernie lost by a hair in Iowa, DJ Mel went on to DJ the New Hampshire primary event, where Bernie didn't just win... he crushed.

"The Bernie Sanders crowd is super passionate and super young. They're just really energized excited people. I definitely fed off that when I was DJing. It's hard not to."

Read more about DJ Mel's background and how he got into music and now DJing political events in the full feature on GuideLive: http://www.guidelive.com/music/2016/02/09/meet-aus...

Cover photo via NBCNews

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Jamie Lamberski Senior Editor

I'm a storyteller at heart, and music makes my world go round.

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