MU sophomore Josh Fagin looks like your typical college student sitting in Memorial Union, but in reality, he is far from ordinary.
Just this past Monday, Fagin left Columbia for Las Vegas to kick off the two month-long Church of Bass tour with electro acts ill.Gates and Stephan Jacobs. On tour, he is no longer Josh Fagin but DJ Jay Fay, a rising star in the electronic music industry. In the past year, Fagin opened with G-Eazy for Drake and Tyga as well as for Steve Aoki at The Blue Note. Fashion designer Alexander Wang even used Fagin's track, “Bonkers,” during his New York Fashion Week runway show.
The turning point in Fagin's music career occurred last October when he sent tracks to Dillon Francis, a DJ who inspires Fagin. Francis became his first big supporter and connected him with other DJs.
“That is when it became less of dream and more of an actual reality,” says Fagin, who began his career doing mash-ups as a high school junior.
Today, that reality is manifest in his fall tour, which includes stops in 13 states and Canada.
Fagin says he's both excited and nervous for the tour. He didn't get to travel as a kid, so this presents an opportunity for him to see the country. He says he's also excited to meet new people and just hang out.
When it comes to describing his sound, Fagin says it can't be described with just one word — and that's the way he likes it.
“I like pulling from a lot of different genres,” Fagin says. “I never want to pigeonhole myself.”
Right now, Fagin says he is experimenting with a genre called Moombahton, which he describes as the perfect fusion of every genre.
While he may be a rock star on the road, he is just a regular college student in Columbia, a city that Fagin says he has a love-hate relationship with.
On one hand, Fagin says he likes Columbia because it's secluded and makes him focus. At other times, though, he wishes he were in a big city like L.A.
At one point, Fagin even seriously thought about dropping out.
“I know what I want to do,” Fagin says. “If I am going to be in school, I want to get something out of it.”
Fagin originally began his freshman year as a journalism major but switched to general studies, a major that allowed him to take classes that applied to his career such as music theory and business.
“It’s making the most out of my situation,” Fagin says of his major. “It’s definitely tough traveling and staying up with school work.”
Fagin's best friend and photographer/videographer Dusty Kessler says that though he and Fagin both want to stay in school, Kessler believes, "It's not the end of the world if we don't."
“We’ve both been really fortunate to have parents that have behind us and supportive of our careers,” says Kessler, who'll join Fagin on tour in two weeks and hopes to one day be able to travel exclusively with Josh. The pair have been buddies since grade school, but they don't let Fagin's success overshadow their friendship.
“When I said good-bye to Josh before he left on tour, it was just another weekend hanging out with Josh,” Kessler says.
Fagin's career might read like a Cinderella story, but don't let his success story fool you. Fagin says the hardest part starting out at first was understanding the idea of quality over quantity.
“One good track will always be better than five mediocre ones,” he says.
And even then, just one good track isn't always enough.
“You have to realize nothing comes over night,” Fagin says. “It takes three to four years to blow up overnight.”