When it came to pursuing a career as a DJ, Cal Poly agricultural business freshman Max Karpel has never let anything stop him.
“I have had DJ equipment and have been practicing since I was in fifth grade, but what truly got me into it was the ability to have control over the crowd,” said Karpel. “There’s truly no better feeling.”
Then, at 14-years-old, Karpel began playing Bar Mitzvahs and school dances that were booked through “Time of Your Life Entertainment” in Westlake Village, California.
“I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit and this inspired me to begin making phone calls to companies that sponsored DJs. That is how I found ‘Time of Your Life’ and began booking gigs,” said Karpel.
The next year, Karpel signed with “Special Events DJs” in Winnetka, California, which marked a major turning point in his career. While under “Special Events,” he began playing club events around the San Fernando Valley and into Los Angeles.
“My favorite gig that I’ve DJ’ed was a wedding,” said Karpel. “There was a rejection and the wedding party did not happen. Because of that, I got my retainer fee back.”
Karpel utilized music to give his audience a sense of freedom up until March of 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Not only did the virus steal Karpel’s senior year out from under him, it also left the DJ scrambling to find ways to pursue his passion.
“The best part of playing music is seeing how people interact with it, so COVID definitely robbed me something great,” said Karpel.
However, Karpel, under his new booking company, got creative with how he could share his music.
“Even though my career was slowed down by the pandemic, ‘Special Events’ still booked drive-by and socially-distanced events, which allowed me to perform up until I moved to SLO,” said Karpel.
Moving for college has not slowed the freshman down one bit.
“Cal Poly has provided great exposure for me as a DJ,” said Karpel. “By getting to know new people, I’ve been able to learn about new music and expand my sets.”
To practice, Karpel brought his equipment to campus and regularly performs for his roommates in their Cerro Vista apartment. This December, he even got to perform for ten of his friends at Pirate’s Cove and he is already making plans for his post-COVID shows.
“I am going to be able to perform for different and more groups of people than I usually do because I now understand a wider range of music tastes,” said Karpel.
Currently, Karpel plans to pursue a career in business once he graduates from Cal Poly, but that doesn’t mean he plans on leaving DJing behind
“Even though I am discovering new fields of interest, I do not think I will ever fully give up DJing,” said Karpel. “Music always has been and will be a huge part of who I am.”