Justin Yamamoto, also known as YAMi, an Ohio state alumnus, holds on to his roots and works to make the DJing scene more inclusive for people of color.
YAMi, who graduated in 2019, said he was taking the advice of his former golf coach to navigate predominantly white industries and applying it to his musical endeavors in the Columbus DJing scene.
“My swing trainer was also black and somehow he gave me this fire that no matter what you do, you have to try to do the best you can because no matter what state we are in.”, no matter what people say, you are viewed differently in a white-dominated sport, ”YAMi said.
The DJ said he explored music in various ways during his childhood. After taking piano lessons in his teens and playing trumpet in his middle school band, he found that DJing and producing was the musical avenue he enjoyed most.
“I also grew up as a wedding DJ when I was 15, 16 years old,” said YAMi. “Actually, my Young Life leader was the real one who taught me how to spin and how to beatmatch.”
YAMi said these experiences were a turning point for him and he discovered that he really enjoyed DJing. He said it was his urge to learn more about the production side of music.
YAMi said that the versatility of DJing attracted him more than the other genres of music he was involved in.
“It’s pretty cool that you can do pretty much anything with DJing or producing, or I was playing the piano or something. That’s what I love about music, you can just be creative and be as open as possible, ”said YAMi.
When he started college, the artist said he took it upon himself to hone his craft by performing at house and block parties.
“I started DJing at the frats and all the blocks and stuff and then I thought, even a couple of years ago I was like, ‘You know what? I want to take production more seriously, ‘”said YAMi.
YAMi said his DJ performances were temporarily suspended due to COVID-19, but that didn’t stop his music creation. Instead, he used the time to learn more about his craft.
“Quarantine was when I started releasing more music than I had and I started taking lessons from this guy named Carbon,” he said.
YAMi said he also took this time to introduce himself to the music industry.
YAMi said he took that advice and used it well by submitting his work to a label he now works for called MMXVAC. He said the people there liked his music and that’s how he got his first label release.
Through his work, the DJ said, he tries to correct the inequality of black artists and bring them to a position where they are better known.
“They get famous, but I think if they were white they would get a different sense of fame,” YAMi said. “I feel like the block is still there, but the walls are being dismantled a bit.”