My interview with the late-great D.J. AM was the hardest assignment I had to edit when I worked at Complex magazine. With great help from my senior editors, we pared down 15 pages to a 230-word profile on how to blow up as a D.J.
I treasured my conversation with AM. He spoke candidly about his tireless effort to stand on the same playing field as the successful D.J.s he admired growing up. I don’t know how much of what AM said in our interview has been documented in the recent film, As I AM: The Life and Times of DJ AM. I just know that our interview peeled away at the layered process it took for him to gain notoriety. In the past year, I believed that this interview would’ve been worthy source material for a book about D.J. AM. I started to reach out to his friends for support. To my surprise, the documentary was released last month. With that in mind, I just figured I’d post the entire transcription. It’s been eight years since our chat, yet it still feels so fresh in my mind that I can still hear his voice—confident, honest, and laid back. I am forever thankful for Adam Goldstein’s wisdom.
‘When my phone rings, I’m going to get a crash course in D.J.’ing from the greatest D.J. alive,’ I thought, as I waited for a publicist call me for a scheduled interview with Adam Goldstein a.k.a. D.J. AM. There was a series of trial and error by the publicist, who failed to reach AM directly. It got so bad that the publicist had to call someone else to bang on the door to AM’s California home so he would respond. That day, AM claimed he just moved into his new house, and was checking things out to see what they got wrong. I never knew the reason for the late start, but AM’s fatigue could have played a factor since he had just returned home after D.J.’ing at Winter Music Conference in Miami. Truth be told, I would have waited longer. As long as AM wanted to talk to me, I was willing to hold my breath until this moment came.
There wasn’t a time limit for our interview or a word count either. The profile on AM was expected to run in a summer issue of Complex magazine, as part of an entrepreneurial-themed issue. In the aughts, AM was making big bank D.J.’ing at high profile events. His D.J. sets at birthdays for Lindsay Lohan and Elton John have their own legend that could compile a book of Page Six reports. It was rumored that AM made well into six figures for some of his bookings. In a discussion thread for the D.J. software platform Serato, a witness claims to have heard D.J. A.M. spin incredibly despite faulty equipment. Let’s face it, if D.J. AM was playing at your event, he was the closest thing to Jesus turning water into wine.
It might have been D.J. AM’s birthday on the day of our interview. I believe that it was because the transcription file was made on March 30th, 2007. However, AM never mentioned his birthday through the hour-long conversation, which is understandable—I don’t brag about my birthday either— but a little acknowledgement sometimes goes the distance on what is supposed to be a special day.
My phone eventually rang. And we began a trip down memory lane.