Get to know: DJ Bandcamp on being the Pacers' DJ, spinning on game nights and loving every moment
He was a high school chemistry teacher. Then he went all-in, landed this gig with the Pacers, driving two hours on game night, and his career has taken off.
Inside Gainbridge Fieldhouse, there has been one constant providing the soundtrack heard by Pacers fans for the majority of home games.
DJ Bandcamp is the primary DJ for the team — and it all started for him a decade ago with a cold email.
It was to Dean Heaviland, the vice president of game operations at Pacers Sports & Entertainment. Heaviland, a native of Speedway, has dedicated his career to the organization. He’s essentially the producer on game nights who sits at the scorer’s table and ensures operations surrounding the game — the PA announcer, emcees, Pacemate performances, Boomer, the halftime show, timeout entertainment, etc. — go smoothly.
It was in October 2012 when DJ Bandcamp first reached out. He was on tour at the time with the rapper, Stalley, who was part of Kendrick Lamar’s tour.
DJ Bandcamp then started with the Pacers about six months later, on March 22, 2013.
He still remembers the date.
And since then, his talent, name recognition and list of clients has grown significantly. He has more than 31,000 followers on Instagram.
The winter months are the busiest because he’s the DJ for the Pacers, Purdue football, Xavier basketball — plus dozens of other sporting events, in addition to private events. “I’m on the road for close to 200 days a year,” he said.
The native of Youngstown, Ohio is committed and reliable. He lives in Cincinnati and makes the two-hour drive over for Pacers games (and other events at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.)
He arrives at The Fieldhouse several hours before each game with two cases and a book bag in tow, ready to keep the vibe upbeat and the crowd entertained during Pacers games.
But before then, the focus is on the players. And for the first time this season, there’s a DJ station at the corner of the court to spin tracks as players go through their individual warmups.
I caught up with DJ Bandcamp recently to discuss his story. Learn more about this role, his path to becoming a full-time DJ and being the one playing the soundtrack heard by tens of thousands at each Pacers game in my Q&A below.
When did you first begin DJing? And when did you realize this was more than just a hobby?
I started DJing in 2009/2010. In college, my chapter (Alpha Alpha Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Incorporated), used to have kickbacks and house parties, and I was in control of the AUX cord because I always had the new music on my iPod. That progressed into me buying a laptop, dropping mixtapes, then purchasing DJ equipment, and ultimately landing my first Tour DJ slot as Stalley's Official DJ. That's when I knew it was no longer a hobby because in order to fulfill that role, I had to quit my 9-5 as a high school chemistry teacher. Stalley was newly signed to Maybach Music Group (Rick Ross' label) and gearing up to head out on tour with Kendrick Lamar and TDE. The rest is history.
Fans don’t get to see your commitment to the job — how you drive over from Cincinnati for each game. How much of a challenge is that and what has it been like to have to sacrifice much of your free times?
Yeah a lot of people don't know that I drive from Cincinnati to Indianapolis for each home game that I spin. At this point, the commute is second nature, but it does present its challenges: traffic, weather, timing, etc. But being able to grow with this organization has made it all worth it!
What’s a typical game night like for you?
Take the drive from Cincinnati to Indianapolis.
Unload equipment onto my cart and take it from the parking garage into the arena.
Set up in Section 113.
Head down to the courtside setup for warmups before the doors open to the public. It's actually one of my favorite parts of the night because of the interaction I have with the players during that time and being able to cater my playlist to the energy they're looking for to get juiced up.
Then pregame starts and music turns more family-fun oriented.
I head up to Section 113 about halfway through pregame to get ready to bring the whole team out, and then from that point, it's game time!
New this year is getting to free flow the music during team introductions. It’s no longer the same intro song for every game. What is that process like and do you practice how you scratch and the song transitions for this big moment before tipoff?
I love the new pregame introduction! It allows us as DJs to get as creative as we would like to build energy before the tip. It definitely takes some practice to get it right and decide how you want things to flow. It's such a big moment so you don't wanna mess up when the lights go live.
(Watch and listen to DJ Bandcamp for Pacers intros below from opening night below.)
You’re now DJing for the Pacers, joining artists on tour and working other big time events like the NCAA Men’s Final Four, the College Football Championship game, etc. — so what has been your favorite?
It's so hard to pick a favorite, honestly. I still get crazy nervous before each set I do, no matter how big or small. But if I HAD to choose, that 2022 College Football National Championship Game between Georgia and Alabama was absolutely INSANE! It could be recency bias, but man...
What would you say to a teenager who loves music and is considering becoming a DJ, no matter the level?
I think you said it in the question, you have to love it! Loving it will make you push through hard times. Loving it will make you practice. Loving it will make you better. Loving it will motivate you when nothing else will. Loving it will allow you to drive almost 4 hours round trip each time for a game. It's really the love for the craft that has propelled me this far because I would honestly DJ for free if it made sen$e. The fact that music has paid me to see the world is absolutely wild to think about.