Music is what Citrus College student Ghandy Soria eats, breathes, and bleeds. “I’m just jamming,” the 21-year-old DJ said after performing during Springfest 2013. “Even if it’s just [for] one person or a thousand people. I want them to leave thinking: ‘He was good.’”
Soria has been DJing for three years and has performed at Citrus campus events for three semesters. You can Tweet him at @deejayghandaayy or find him at facebook.com/ghandy.soria.1.
He first heard the music’s call at a party after his graduation from Pomona High School. The DJ at the party seemed like a conductor, controlling the crowd with the energy his music conveyed.
Soria loved the vibe he felt and immediately began his courtship with music. His family and friends thought he would quit after a few months, but Soria hung on, practicing every day. He educated himself watching videos of artists like DJ AM, Jazzy Jeff, Rob Swift, Executioners, Invisibl Skratch Piklz, A-Trak, Craze, and Beat Junkies.
“[Music is] more than a hobby, it’s a life changing experience,” Soria said.
The lack of support depressed him at first. Vanessa Jones, 22, his girlfriend at the time, explains just how difficult it was for Soria.
“His parents were not too confident [in him]. They wanted him to focus on school,” Jones said. “That’d bring him down, but he decided this was what he wanted.”
His first set of equipment was a basic mixer and soundboard, puny compared to the two Technic turntables, Vestax pmc 05 Pro mixer, and two Beringer speakers that he now owns.
“He started small. He’d buy records and study hip-hop,” she said. “He started getting better and better and I’d give him my opinion.”
The one-year mark was when they realized he was committed. Fellow Citrus college student and younger brother, Irwin Soria, 20, explains how he and his brothers support each other.
“I’d wake up and hear Ghandy practicing, playing with some song,” Irwin said. “’What’s this?’ I’d say, and he’d break it down for me.”
Irwin attributes his respect for his brother to the passion Ghandy has in his music.
“[Whether] you do DJing, or business, or writing, people need passion. I see my brother doing what he loves and it pumps me up,” Irwin explains. “See all this equipment he has?” he gestures to the turntables, mixer, and speakers. “Usually he brings all this himself, he’s committed.”
Irwin also points out how dedicated Ghandy is in pursuing music.
“One time, someone hired him for a party. The guy paying him just told him to play off a playlist, no scratching [or DJing].” Ghandy is smiling as Irwin recounts this. “My brother? He doesn’t even take the money. He packs up and he’s outta there!”
Ghandy’s other source of motivation carried over from playing on his high school basketball team. He cites Magic Johnson when explaining his motivation for practice.
“The way I motivate myself? If I’m practicing one hour, someone else is practicing two hours, I do three,” he said.
On bad days, Soria still strives to be productive. He makes it a goal to practice every day. Even if he can’t manage time on the turntables, he’ll listen to music, analyzing every sequence. He considers his passion a blessing and a curse.
“I’m always trying to be the best I can be,” he said. “I’m never satisfied with where I’m at. Because of technology, anyone can be a DJ with a laptop and a little thing with buttons. They don’t go digging for music, which is 50 percent of music [and DJing]. Digging is going to music stores and physically digging through records.”
Will Molloy, 20, fellow DJ and friendly rival, says that this devotion to study is one of Soria’s primary strengths.
“[His strength is] history of music. [Ghandy] can take a song and know everything about the song. He knows a wide variety of music [and the] history of DJing,” Molloy said.
One such pioneer is James Brown, one of the founding fathers of hip-hop. Soria and Molloy both cite “The Godfather of Soul” when explaining sampling, a common DJ technique.
Sampling is like copy and pasting segments of sound recording. These samples can be anything from spoken word to looping drumbeats. Entire songs can be based on a single sample. Break beats, the songs most associated with break dancing, are an example of looped samples.
Good DJs can bridge entire genres with the samples they spin out, letting the music spew out like water from an open pipe, or trickle down to a smooth flow.
Eager to broaden his sampling prospects, Soria looks forward to traveling abroad to countries such as Japan, Brazil, and Australia.
“I just want to see what music they’re into,” he said. “Digging? In Japan [and] Brazil it’s crazy!”
Once Soria finds samples and tracks he likes, he says he turns off his phone and settles his mind, eliminating every distraction around him. When he performs, he blocks everything except his music out, playing to his full ability.
While this mental fortitude is admirable, as a performer, Soria has to stay attentive to his crowd.
“One weakness is crowd control. Sometimes I’m selfish and play for myself,” he said. “If the crowd can’t connect, people aren’t going to like me.”
Despite admitting the need to entertain, Soria refuses to gain recognition by piggybacking on chart-topping songs on the radio.
“No shortcuts. I like challenges.” he said.
But Soria admits that living by this mantra is exhausting. Time management is a problem for him. Coupled with his nightly shifts at In-N-Out Burger, schoolwork and practice leave no room for rest.
“I’ve been battling with this. I want to take a semester off,” he said. “[or] I could go to school and be in line with what society wants me to be. Juggling school, work, and DJing is super intense.”
When prompted on his future, Soria explains that he wants to produce music in addition to continue to DJ. He also wants to become a motivational speaker.
“I want to be successful at what I do and motivate others. Now days, people don’t chase their dreams. Dreams are just dreams. I want to motivate people the way [my family] motivated me,” he said.