Student uses music as a form of expression

By ANDREA MARTIN, COPY EDITOR
On January 15, 2018


USF student Deian Pantoja, spins as DJ DXN at a tailgate for the last homegame of the 2017 fall semester. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/ DEIAN PANTOJA

It’s Saturday night, and you already regret wearing those shorts when you feel the wind hit you. From outside of The Study, you can feel the bass from “Attention,” by Charlie Puth fall in sync with your pulse. 

Deian Pantoja, a senior majoring in communications, has mastered the bass and beats as DJ DXN to create amazing memories for anyone who sees him.  

Pantoja’s DJ career saw its first few sparks when he was in high school. Pantoja came across a Swedish DJ that was a former member of Swedish House Mafia.

“Axwell, I like his music the most,” Pantoja said. “That’s the very first DJ that got me into dance music and made me say, ‘Oh, what is he doing?’”

With this music being produced differently than what people normally picture when they think of an artist, Pantoja was immediately drawn to this genre. This DJ ushered in unparalleled art that flooded Pantoja with inspirations.  

“When I was a sophomore, I just started looking at everything, like the new genre of dance music that was coming in,” Pantoja said. “That’s when it all started, all that culture started raising.”

Learning from his now favorites, Pantoja used his inspirations to find his own sound. 

“A-Trak is the big name now that is still keeps DJing in the actual culture,” Pantoja said. “I look up to him. I look up his videos all the time to see how he’s doing it creatively.”

Late into Pantoja’s sophomore year at USF, he bought DJ equipment from an alumnus of his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. Soon after, Pantoja was able to find a gig with one of his friends. His then-close friend and now fellow Phi Delta Theta brother, Ivan Cortes, found DJ DXN his first gig in Lakeland, Florida. 

“I had no idea where I was going, I just said ‘let’s go,’” Pantoja said. “I had no idea what was going to happen.” 

Pantoja was complimented by those who hosted the party, but he knew he could do better. 

In the past three years, he has learned the most important rule of being a DJ: learn to read the room. 

Taking bits and pieces from what he saw online, watching famous producers and DJs along with feedback from his audiences, Pantoja has created a brand for DJ DXN. 

In the last two months, he secured a stable gig spinning at The Study on Fletcher Avenue every Saturday night.

“Comparing this past Saturday’s gig to my first gig, I actually knew what I was doing this time,” Pantoja said. “When I get to this gig, I’m relaxed. I’m not stressing at all because I know what I’m going to do, and I know I’m going to do it well. It’s perfect for me.” 

Manuel Andres Cabal, a junior majoring in marketing, is one of Pantoja’s closest friends and greatest supporters. The two have known each other since the the summer of 2016. Along the way, Cabal has seen DJ DXN too many times to count. 

“There are a couple things about watching DXN that really sets him apart from all the other college DJs around,” Cabal said. “First off he doesn’t only play EDM like majority of these DJs play. He knows how to read a crowd and pick and choose from any type of genre of music. This talent alone makes it so much more enjoyable and fun to watch his sets compared to any other DJ.” 

Besides frat parties and bar nights, DJ DXN has has traveled to spin in Gainesville and Orlando. For New Year’s Eve, he performed at a new bar in Fort Lauderdale called The Hideaway.Three weeks ago, he spun for the first time at a wedding. 

“Deian also loves to get involved with the crowd, whether it’s getting the crowd hype through his microphone or something as simple as a ‘Happy Birthday’ shoutout,” Cabal said. “Deian has overcome so many obstacles and is achieving big things very quickly.”

Every step in Pantoja’s climb as DXN is captured on his social media. Pantoja markets himself to audiences across Florida through social media. He has an Instagram, @dxn.dj, where he recaps past gigs, and a Facebook, DXN DJ, where he announces future ones. 

“I quit my regular job because I wanted to do this full time,” Pantoja said. “So I do gigs on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturday night.”

Pantoja has no plans to retire DJ DXN after his graduation.

“I’m definitely going to continue with this, but after I graduate I’m going to dedicate way more time into actually producing music, my own music,” Pantoja said.

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