SASKATOON – Saskatchewan’s Sean Grant, 37, is on his way to represent Canada on the world stage. He left Saturday for the 2015 Red Bull Thre3style World DJ Championship in Japan.
Born and raised in Saskatoon, Grant had an ear for music.
“I had an interest in music for a long time and then it kind of progressed from stealing my parents’ records to buying my own and then eventually wanting to play them for other people,” said Grant.
In 2002, he met a local DJ who helped him find a turntable and a mixer and from there he turned his passion into a profession. Today, he’s fully employed as a DJ and goes by his stage name, Charly Hustle.
“I love music and I love dancing. This is a way for music and dancing to be my life and my job as opposed to just a hobby or something I have to wait until my regular job is done to be able to experience,” said Grant.
In May, he proved his skill when Canada’s top DJs competed in Winnipeg to see who would represent the country at the world finals. In the end, Grant was crowned the 2015 national champion.
“I was really, really jacked. I felt great, it was kind of surreal at the moment,” said Grant.
READ MORE: Saskatoon DJ crowned national champion
Success didn’t come easy for Grant, as this was his fourth attempt at the Canadian title.
“After the first one, it was a goal of mine to win nationals and I finally reached the goal, so it felt awesome … even though it took a few years to achieve it, I thought it was a big relief and felt exciting,” said Grant.
That feeling quickly changed to nervousness as Grant knew he had little time to prepare to represent Canada against the top DJs from over 20 countries around the globe.
“Basically for most days, I’m trying to reach around four hours of practice,” said Grant.
Starting on Sept. 15 in Tokyo, every DJ will get 15 minutes to give a performance that must use at least three genres of music. Competitors are judged on the following criteria: originality of track selection, creativity of your mixing, technicality of your mixing, stage presence and crowd response.
Judges, which include celebrity Jazzy Jeff, will decide who will perform at the grand final on Sept. 20 and be crowned world champion.
“I’m super excited and I feel confident because I practiced so much but also, nervous because I’ve never been a part of something this big before,” said Grant.
Aside from travelling to Wisconsin when he was younger, this will be his furthest trip from home. But once Grant gets off the plane, the competition is his main concern.
Grant believes his work ethic and creativity as a DJ will be his greatest assets at worlds.
“If I were to be known for anything, it’s like word play and creative transitions. Taking a lot of left turns and using genres and songs that other people probably wouldn’t have thought of to use,” said Grant.
WATCH: DJ Charly Hustle spinning for world championship
He added that the Thre3Style competition’s roots lie in Canada and the country has a pretty good reputation. In 2011, Vancouver’s DJ Hedspin was crowned world champion.
“I think the DJ scene in Canada is amazing,” said Grant.
“Canada is fairly well-known internationally for the DJs that we have. I know one of the judges is a Canadian, named Skratch Bastid, and he’s world-renowned.”
For those thinking of giving it a spin, Grant says being a DJ takes hours of hard work and a love of music.
“It doesn’t come from like, ‘I want to be a superstar entertainer’ or something, it comes from really liking music and that’s going to guide you. All the other things that you do, it will push you to be better,” said Grant.
“Getting better at something, as I’ve recently figured out, actually takes a load of work and there’s no like getting around it.”
Red Bull Thre3Style first pit 10 countries’ top DJs against each other in 2010. Five years later, it’s grown to what is now the world’s largest competition of its kind.
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