We had the good fortune of connecting with Deonté Bell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Deonté, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Being a born & bred ATLien, I attribute my origins in this city to being a key factor in influencing my creative drive & truly, my overall personality. Growing up in this city during it’s musical hayday while seeing the likes of Outkast & the Dungeon Family, TLC, Jeezy, Ludacris, Father & the Awful Records crew, etc. (the list would be longer than the rest of my responses haha) come out of the city, I couldn’t help but see the influences Atlanta as a whole has had on the culture of the world abroad. I used to listen to local station 95.5 The Beat during my adolescent years, and at one point, I had their daily rotation memorized, sitting in class wondering if they switched Lil Wayne’s Lollipop spot on their playlist with Kanye’s Flashing Lights that day or random stuff like that.
I’ve always been musically-minded in that regard, noting how different sounds would cause varying emotional reactions in myself & others so I would spend my times as a kid making playlists & burning them to blank CD’s or noting how ecstatic a crowd would get at games back in my marching band days. Looking back on it, it only makes sense I would become a DJ as an adult. Shoot, I learned how to work my dad’s record player when I was 3 with first record out of his stack of classics I played being Earth, Wind, & Fire’s Powerlight album. The music’s always been calling to me, ya know?
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
What I’m most proud of at this point is just all the folks I’ve seen have a great time coming to whatever shows/gigs I’ve worked. From starting an electric slide on the MSR basement dance floor, to having folks come to the booth to ask me what song I just played, or just seeing someone who was just sitting in the corner come alive in the middle of the room, it’s just been the sheer joy I’ve seen folks experience when I’m up in the booth that makes me feel proud to be up there & keep going. I’m truly just excited to see how much further I can take my craft and make people feel something come alive awake in them on the dance floor.
Truth be told, it was not easy for me to get here. At my first ever gig, I passed out from heat exhaustion & dehydration within the first hour of the set, and I almost gave up that night. First lesson I learned there was that I needed to really make sure I was taken care of before I could take care of a crowd. Second lesson I had to learn was to just have fun with what I’m doing. I’m a textbook perfectionist meaning at one point, I stressing myself to ensure every part of my mix was perfect, every song, every drop, every transition, had to be perfect! Until I realized how much that sort of stress took the fun out that I could’ve been having so I let go of all that, and started focusing more on the concept of “ayo, would this be fun to play/do right now?”. Once I altered my mindset to that regard, DJing stopped feeling like such a labor and more like a really fun exercise. It’s since allowed me to break free from the box of a perfectionist and further experiment with what sounds can be created on a turntable. I know there’s still a lot for me to learn which excites me more than anything because the more skills I learn, the more the quality of my mixes improves.
I never want to become stagnant nor complacent. “Be like water” as Bruce Lee once put it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh, this is a fun question. Ok, boom: they land on a Tueday evening & they hungry, off rip we going over to Wing Bar ATL in EAV for what I consider to be some of the best wings in the city of Atlanta. Hands down, very few can compete. The food’s so good, they catch the itis, and we call it a night.
Wednesday, we hit up Atlanta Breakfast club for brunch, partake in their crispy fried chicken & waffles. We in the South, that’s a staple dish. Probably walk over to Centennial Park to get the touristy sights out the way, World of Coke, GA Aquarium, etc. Get a midday nap in, then that night, we go over to Edgewood to hit up Cartridge ATL at GA Beer Garden for good brews, good eats, some gaming, and maybe catch a few cyphers that take place in the back patio. Them folks known for that over there & it’s a chill, fun time.
Thursday night is when our options really open up: we can hit up a drag show over at Mary’s in EAV to tip the dolls in there, we can hit up Blue Flame to tip the dancers in there, or shoot, we make our way over to Revery VR and immerse ourselves in some VR games or dance the night away if a DJ is spinning a set in there.
From Friday through Sunday: it really just depends on what events are happening around the city & where the energy levels are since the options are endless. You have AV Radio Live happening on the Beltline through the whole weekend where we can probably catch a Werc Crew set bumping with DJ Hourglass or Xavier Blk, could be a Club Morph event going down headlined by DJs Leonce, JSport, and Zaida, maybe a Blue Theory is jumping off with DJs Thrice Groove, Cleotrvppv, Champagne Trap, Allurr, or whoever else they have going on with them that night. All that is just the DJ events alone which could be going off, sometimes at the same time. I didn’t even get to mention whatever concerts could be going off, but either way we could grab some grub at Delia’s Chicken Sausage Stand, Snooze A.M. eatery, Jinya Ramen Bar, Rosie’s Cafe, etc. Look there’s so much to do down here in Atlanta, it’s almost overstimulating.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Mane, I have so many folks to thank on this, but I’ll keep it brief. Firstly, shoutout to my family for starting my love of music, key examples being my dad blasting Barry White & Sade every Sunday while he cooked dinner & my mom really breaking down for me how to listen & understand the messages an artist/group works to convey in their art.
Secondly, shoutout to my friends who supported me once I started on this creative path for myself with offering sound advice on projects I was working on, sending me tracks they thought I would enjoy, & overall just vibing with me as we just enjoyed good music together.
Lastly & certainly not least, I want to thank my iconic, loving, & highly talented girlfriend who would be the loudest in the room for me when I was just getting started trying to book my first gigs. It would’ve been a much longer process for me to get this point without her, and I’m eternally grateful to her for all her support & just grateful to the Universe for having her in my life. I love you, baby, to stars & back.
Youtube: WVMKR Media
Other: soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/wavmkr
The headshot image of me in the pink shirt & brown jacket was taken by photographer Talecia Tucker