From the DJ Club’s only member to acclaimed mash-up artist and music producer
When Steve Porter joined the DJ Club at Williston, he never imagined it would set the beat for a career as a sought-after international DJ and wildly successful video mash-up artist. In 2009, Porter created PorterHouse Media, where he mixes and blends video mash-up commercials for clients like The Walt Disney Company, Honda, and the National Basketball Association. A recent transplant to Los Angeles, he has won two Webby Awards, among others, for his work, and in 2012, Fast Company named him among the top 100 most creative people in business.
How did you get your start as a DJ at Williston?
The DJ Club. The former school chef, Mark Moffett, was the head of the club. We met in one of the side cafeteria rooms. We talked about what songs the kids wanted to hear at the dances. I was just drawn to it. As soon as I started it, I just never left.
What kind of student were you?
I was an outsider. I lived in Sawyer House, and then I lived in Swan Cottage the last two years. I was huge into Frisbee with my dorm mates, but golf was my sport. I was definitely a late bloomer, and I was pretty shy. Fear of rejection was something that kept me from going farther into the social circles at school. I wasn’t a mute, but I wasn’t the first to chime in. I think it was just a lack of confidence.
When did you first DJ a dance?
I was interning with Mark at one of his local weekend gigs. It was the Franklin Tech semiformal at the former Clarion Hotel in Northampton. During the gig, he said, “I have to go to the bathroom. Can you mix a couple of records?” This was my first experience mixing in front of a crowd. Hilariously, I played “Come On Ride the Train” into “The Macarena.” Halfway through my senior year, I was in charge of putting on the school dances in the campus center. I had the equipment and the music, and I was the only person in the DJ Club.
What is the feeling you get when you DJ?
Seeing people dancing, seeing the party go off—that’s a very addictive feeling. It’s a form of giving. I started to dig deeper into the science of producing tracks and the concepts of blending beats and telling a story and making unique music. You have a lot of artistic control when you can mix your own music into your DJ sets. That was a draw to me as well.
Could you predict that your DJ Club days would take you here?
My dad passed away a year after I graduated. This sort of accelerated my development, you could say, as I was only tinkering with potential directions for my career. I pretty much immediately gravitated and set due course toward the one thing I was passionate about, and that was the music and DJing work I was doing at Williston. My mom was understandably nervous at the time, as this wasn’t exactly a PhD program I was interested in, but she always believed in me and could tell I was passionate about what I was doing. Coming from the DJ Club to where I am now was an enormous life lesson to jump headfirst into whatever your passion is.