Jon Patrick Layson didn’t plan on going by the name DJ JPogi — but it’s the name that stuck, thanks to fellow DJ Sims Cabrera.

“Sims was trying to give me a funny name,” says Layson. “At the time, I was the new guy and girls seemed to gravitate toward me and Sims would say ‘It’s because you’re the pogi guy, that’s why.’ So it started as a joke and it stuck. I was just going to call myself Jon Layson.”

Born and raised on Guam, Layson began deejaying professionally at 18 – just four years after he bought his first turntable and taught himself how to mix and scratch. Layson bought it with a sack of coins that took him a year to save up.

“I got my first turntable at 14 and I had to work for it,” says Layson. “Every time my mom sent me to go shopping she would let me keep the coins. That’s how I saved up $200. It took at least a year.”

Layson learned how to deejay by watching MTV and old videotapes of other DJs and emulating what he saw. At age 16, Layson knew enough to be able to help mobile DJs at house parties and ballroom gigs. By age 18, Layson was holding down gigs of his own in clubs around the island, and shaping the scene by bringing new music from the west coast to Guam.


Guam to Los Angeles

In 2007, Layson put his career as a professional DJ on the back burner and moved out to Los Angeles where he worked in the city’s sanitation bureau for a year and a half. When he lost that job due to budget cuts, Layson got serious about deejaying again. He connected with LA’s Filipino-American DJ community and made a lot of friends who would become influences and help him develop next-level skills.

“In Los Angeles if you’re Filipino and you’re from the city, pretty much they’re all connected. Every few weeks we’d get together and showcase our skills. It was like hanging out and taking turns on the turntable. I got to witness people who were better than me and see what they’re doing, and I’d ask them questions like, ‘How do you break that down?’ or ‘How did you do that’? Some people were protective of their secrets but a good amount were open,” Layson says.

Although he had been deejaying professionally on Guam for a number of years, Layson was unknown in Los Angeles and had to start from the bottom. He played for free at parties, getting free gigs by linking up with people through local forums and social media.

He also ran lights and sound and de occasionallyejayed for an events company. Layson says all of the “random things” he was doing opened the doors to clubs in LA and led to bigger gigs – some with well-known artists and musicians.

“I deejayed for a Bone Thugs n’ Harmony show out there. When I was doing club stuff I was the main DJ for The Dream, Marques Houston and Omarion. I met Ariana Grande back when she was hustling to get her music out there. Before Far East Movement started blowing up, I was hanging out with them back in the day in their garage when they were practicing. They hit me up when they came to Guam for Guam Live and it’s cool that they still remember me,” Layson says.

Layson moved back to Guam to help take care of his family when his mother became ill in 2011. His mother passed away in 2012 and he decided to stay to “create a staple and use his influence to help others.”

“I definitely want to give back to the community with whatever I can, whether it be helping someone learn to DJ or donating time. I’d like to eventually start a school – not just a DJ school but one that includes music production as well because I think that’s something we’re lacking here,” Layson says. “We don’t have a lot of music producers on island – they’re all off island. Besides that, a personal goal in the sense of deejaying is to play in Vegas or a Coachella kind of thing, even if it’s just a small stage. That’s my personal goal. I’d be happy with that.”

Outside of Guam and Los Angeles, Layson has played events in Seattle, Hawaii, Houston, San Diego, Fresno, the Philippines and Saipan. In 2014, DJ JPogi received the Guam Island Music Award for Best Club DJ.

Follow him on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook: DJJPogi.

This article originally appeared on Pacific Daily News: DJ JPogi brings LA sounds to Guam


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