Red Bull hosts collegiate DJ contest at Rounders

Francie Johnson

On one night, five local disc jockeys will have 15 minutes each to show Tuscaloosa what they’ve got.

Red Bull Thre3style University is the collegiate division of Red Bull Thre3style, an international DJ contest in search of the world’s most “party-rocking” DJ. The event will take place tonight, at Rounders Bar at 9 p.m.

Thre3style, originally a Canadian event, went global in 2010, hosting competitions in 10 different countries. This is the first year that Red Bull has held a separate competition specifically for college DJs.

Participating DJs must play a 15-minute set – no more, no less – and incorporate at least three different musical genres, hence the name “Thre3style.” They will be judged on four criteria: skill, originality and creativity, track selection and audience response, with the most emphasis being placed on audience response.

The winning DJ will receive $1000, as well as the chance to compete in the Thre3style University Southeastern division final on March 9 at Club La Vela in Panama City, Fla.

Max Scruggs, otherwise known as DJ Albatross, is one of the five DJs that Red Bull invited to compete in the contest.

“I’ve been a DJ for a long time, but I’ve never done anything like this,” Scruggs, a senior majoring in metallurgical material engineering, said. “Maybe it will broaden my horizons.”

Scruggs, who has been a DJ for almost four years, originally started performing at his Phi Beta Sigma fraternity house. Now, he owns an event planning and entertainment company, Albatross Entertainment, which specializes in weddings and other private events.

“Wedding DJing is typically easier than DJing at bars because at weddings, people tell you what they like,” Scruggs said. “In the bar scene, you have to read your crowd, and every crowd is different.”

Scruggs said he feeds off of his audience’s energy during his performances.

“If people appear to be having a good time and have smiles on their faces, I look at the night as a success,” Scruggs said.

(See also “Silly string rave hits Rounders”)

Scruggs will be competing against four other DJs, including UA students Jeremy Walters (DJ Alchemy) and Derrek Beavers (Phacelift). University of Alabama at Birmingham student Andrew Williams (Jimi Frtz) and Auburn University student Benjamin Neuffer (DJ Catalyst) are contestants as well.

Neuffer, a junior majoring in geology, started out as an amateur break-dancer before switching over to DJing.

“I threw a few dance parties and found out I really enjoyed making other people dance, so I hung up the dance shoes and picked up a pair of headphones,” Neuffer said.

Neuffer releases new tracks on a monthly basis, integrating many different styles of music into his mixes.

“Before I make a new mix I spend time listening and thinking about music and what songs would blend together,” Neuffer said. “Occasionally when I’m practicing, songs just pop out at me and it sounds amazing.”

Neuffer said his creative process as a DJ mixing tracks is similar to the creative process of a musician writing songs.

“I think the tools each uses is the only real difference [between DJs and other musicians],” Neuffer said. “Ultimately, the end result for both is new material that people can enjoy.”

Red Bull Thre3style University will be held at Rounders Bar on the Strip. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the show starts at 9 p.m. There is no cover charge for those 21 and older.

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