We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: Our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.
The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)
Secret Life: Tashawn Jones
Web designer/Professional DJ
Tashawn hails from Chesapeake, VA. He’s been a designer here at RV for almost 3 years and currently works on the Disrupt team. On the weekends, you can find him somewhere in Plaza Midwood, digging for records, or hanging with his cat Scratchy. (Yes, that is a Simpsons reference.)
When he’s not designing stunning web experiences for our partners, he’s probably spinning records at a show near you. Please, hold your applause.
Q: Hey Tashawn. Great to see you! Ready to spill your secrets?
A: Most definitely.
Q: That’s music to our ears. When did your obsession with beats begin?
A: My grandma was a gospel singer, so we always had music around growing up. And my dad introduced me to rap, so I credit all my rap knowledge to him. Some of my earliest memories are riding around in the car with him listening to music. Soon, I was buying tapes and trying to record songs off the radio (laughs). Then as I got older, I started trying to find stuff that wasn’t on the radio. I know that’s a “hipster” thing to say, but it’s the truth.
Q: *Sips artisanal coffee.* No judgement here. What’s your favorite thing to listen to?
A: Rap and hip-hop. It’s what I grew up on. I also learned to love soul and R&B from my mom and grandparents. Later down the line, I got into funk and jazz, too. But I’m willing to give everything a chance.
Q: OK, so your love for music goes way back. What about design?
A: As a kid, I loved art as much as I loved music. Any time I was painting or drawing, I was listening to music. And vice-versa. Actually, I have a funny story that sums it up pretty well…
Q: Let’s hear it.
A: You know how my dad would listen to music with me? Well, he’d also give me stacks of old rap magazines after he’d finished reading them. I would cut out everything I liked – the logos for artists and record labels – and make collages. My mom even bought me frames so I could hang them in my room. I was basically making my own music posters.
Q: … A music aficionado and graphic designer by age 9?! You’re making us look bad! When did the DJ dream come into the mix?
A: Oh, I’ve wanted to be a DJ since 4th grade.
Q: Ambitious. (We like it.) How’d you make it happen?
A: In college, I did design work for my friend who was a DJ. He was part of this DJ crew that’d hang out and mix a show every Tuesday night. One day I asked him to teach me, totally expecting he’d say no — but he said yes. I’ll admit it, I was pretty bad at first. But the guys let me use their gear whenever I wanted. So, I kept practicing and getting better.
Q: What’s the secret to a great set? Got any signature moves?
A: It’s about knowing when to play the right songs. You can’t start a set with the most popular songs because you won’t have anywhere to go. It’s also about knowing how to mix and transition between songs. I can scratch and cut, but you can’t do that all the time. You have to be intentional about when you throw that into long sets. And then there’s some math to think about…
Q: No pressure… How does math factor into the equation??
A: With vinyl turntables, you can spin the record exactly four times — so you’ve got to keep track of that. You also have to be aware of the beats per minute (BPM) of your songs. There’s no clean way to go from an up-tempo song at 135 BPM to a mid-tempo song at 98 BPM.
Q: Ah, that adds up. Is it rare to play on vinyl turntables?
A: Back home in Norfolk, a lot of people used vinyl. But nowadays most people have controllers or turntables without vinyl. I love when people come up to me and notice I’m using real turntables and a real mixer.
Q: Does this mean you have a massive record collection?
A: Haha, it depends on who you ask. I’m not in it for bulk — I don’t just go to the store and buy whatever I see. Everything I have in my collection, I listen to. I probably have 200-300 records. And another 150 45’s. Plus, cassettes and other nerdy music stuff.
Q: Opinion: none of this qualifies as “nerdy.” How often do you play shows?
A: I don’t get to spin in Charlotte too often because I’m still pretty new on the scene here. A friend from Red Ventures actually helped me get started — she hooked me up with the resident DJ at Snug Harbor in Plaza Midwood. I’ll spin with him on Monday nights at an event called Knockturnal. I like to feed off people’s energy, so I’m usually spinning with at least two other DJs.
Q: You sound like a pro. Did you ever consider music as a career?
A: People have told me that I could pursue it. But it’s really more of a hobby. To me, music and art go hand in hand. But I’ve always leaned more towards the art side.
Q: Why’s that?
A: For me, it’s all about affecting people emotionally. If you can create cover art or design a website and it makes somebody feel something — that’s so rewarding. When my wife and I were engaged, I made a website for our wedding. It really wasn’t much… it just had some basic information. But when I showed it to her, she cried. That’s how much she loved it. There aren’t a lot of things you can do where you get that kind of genuine response. I get to do that every day as my job.
Q: So, web design at RV is a pretty sweet gig?
A: Oh yeah. I love the collaborative environment here. I haven’t experienced anything like it at other places that I’ve worked. There’s this sense of camaraderie with the creative team as a whole. It makes coming to work more enjoyable and allows me to create at a higher level.
Q: Now for the most important question of all: where can we hear you spin?
A: My DJ crew back home is called the Better Than Yours Mixshow (BTYM) Crew. We stream a show every Friday out of an online radio station in California. When I lived in Virginia, all five of us used to get together to record a mix and send it in. Now that I’ve moved, I don’t do it as much as I’d like to. They’ll usually make an hour-long show mix and I’ll add to what they’ve done. There’s a new mix every week.