Temple DJs find success off campus

Student DJs are expanding their reach and fan base through outlets like MTV.

DJs Robert Ortega, left, and Matt Burns of Cruzko are gaining popularity with outlets like MTV. | COURTESY Matt Burns
DJs Robert Ortega, left, and Matt Burns of Cruzko are gaining popularity with outlets like MTV. | COURTESY Matt Burns

When Temple students Matt Burns and Robert Ortega caught the attention of MTV, it meant one thing—it was time to work even harder, Burns said, because “somebody was interested in what we do.”

The junior media studies and productions majors and the pair behind DJ duo Cruzko, hope their work and short bio displayed on MTV’s artists page will allow them to gain prominence for their music on and off campus.

The two formed the duo Cruzko about a year and a half ago after meeting through Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity.

“We both saw our lives going in the same direction with music production and getting into that field of the music industry,” Burns said.

Both DJs had experience already—Burns had mixed and Ortega was involved in the marching band. The pair found a mentor in Yonah Rosman, another DJ in Sigma Alpha Mu. Shortly after Cruzko was formed, Rosman became Cruzko’s manager.

In that time, Rosman has noted smoother transitions during their performances and a higher level of confidence in mixing, he said.

Cruzko’s proudest moment so far, the pair said, has been playing the Mad Decent Block Party after-party at Soundgarden Hall last year. Mad Decent is a large electronic dance music—EDM—event that draws thousands of music fans to Philadelphia each year. The after-party often features smaller, local acts.

Cruzko isn’t the only group making noise at Temple. While DJing an orientation party for incoming freshman probably isn’t a career highlight for most people, senior media studies and production major Jahlil Peterson, better known as Jah The DJ, would disagree.

“I’ve always had a love for music and singing,” Peterson said, “and I had a turntable in my room while working at orientation and thought ‘I’ll throw a party and see how it goes,’ and it was a hit.”

Peterson’s party was so successful that it became a regular activity for incoming freshman as of last year—and now Temple pays Peterson to perform at orientation parties held in Johnson and Hardwick halls.

After first trying his hand at playing at orientation during Fall 2014, Peterson has now played at the Food Truck Festival  in Center City and at the Electric Factory for Temple’s WRTI radio station.

Peterson maintains this success comes from staying “outside the box” and catering to each individual crowd’s energy and playing the music they respond well to.

For Peterson, achieving success at Temple parties is just one step toward becoming a music personality and gaining a following. The DJ hopes to one day have his own entertainment show after playing more well known events.

Both Jahlil and Cruzko have found playing at Temple to be challenging, but ultimately rewarding.

“Temple students know how to have fun,””Peterson said. “No matter what is going on, it’s always just a great time and it’s just fun playing around this area.”

While Cruzko isn’t sure what is in store for the future, MTV has a biography of the group online to track its social media.

Joshua Zimmerman can be reached at joshua.zimmerman0001@temple.edu.

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