Underaged and Overqualified: The Hurdle of Youth as a DJ


We say “what a time to be alive” a lot these days. Really though, any year prior to 1984…that would be a time to be alive. In the US the drinking age was 18, the same age you had to be to smoke, to join the armed forces, and to be considered no longer a minor. What a time to be alive! Well sort of. Whatever your views on the efficacy of US restrictions on alcohol and legal statuses, it’s undoubtedly becoming more and more of a pain for a rapidly growing population of young DJs simply from the standpoint of gaining entry to a venue to do their job. In a time when anything is seemingly possible, when music can be fully produced in a bedroom, building an audience can be done entirely online, and getting booked is less a question of your experience and more on your relevancy, DJs and producers of youth have quite a few hurdles left to still deal with.

Since Garrix released “Animals” at the age of 17 (now 20), and Madeon’s “Icarus” at age 17, a flurry of young artists have flooded the scene with hopes and realizations that age may be a restriction on club access…but not on success. Steve James and Bearson have been highlighted as two such artists.

Bearson (20) recounts his struggles with LA Weekly of just trying to see his peers perform at SXSW, while in Norway it wouldn’t be an issue.

“In Norway the age limit for alcohol is 18. For clubs, it’s 20. So I came from being able to get in everywhere and drink everywhere to having no way to get in anywhere…It’s a hassle every time, but it definitely makes going to clubs more exciting.”

For the likes of Steve James, things haven’t really been any easier. With several club denials and successes of his own, his real priority has been sneaking into the festival scene. A two-time veteran of UMF and an attendee of EDCLV at the ripe age of 17 has proven Steve knows what’s up. The new LA resident has been in the studio with the likes of Poo Bear and cut a Bieber record, been on stage with Martin Garrix, and played SXSW…but perhaps more impressive was the fact he did all this before flying home for high school prom this year. When asked about how he’ll get into his show with Martin this Thursday at Exchange LA, where both he and Martin will be under the 21 age limit, Steve hopes to not resort to bribery and to “just stand near Martin and hope everything’s OK.”

In reality there are bigger issues to deal with, but it’s pretty funny how things work out for our young stars. LA Weekly does a pretty good job detailing some stories, but be sure to comment and let us know who your favorite young DJs are and if you have any stories about trying to sneak in places for the sake of the music!

H/T: LA Weekly