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Conversations with Josh Carroll

Today we’d like to introduce you to Josh Carroll.

Hi Josh, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for sharing your story with us – to start, maybe you can share some of your backstories with our readers.
I first started DJing by accident. As a musician my entire life (keyboard & piano), I’ve always loved and collected music of all decades and styles. Once I got to college (I went to UMD College Park), my roommates and I began throwing parties. Everybody during these events would always ask to borrow my iPod or laptop because I owned the most music, and having a good playlist was better than putting on random Youtube videos. I would stay by my music collection to ensure nobody walked away with the goods and took an active role in choosing what songs would be played. I realized early on that I could read a room and pick songs that would get a crowd going and keep a dancefloor packed all night. I saved as much money as possible from the parties we hosted and purchased my first DJ mixer as soon as I had the funds. One thing led to another, and before I graduated, I was already busy DJing at all the local college nightlife venues and other events on and around campus. After leaving UMD, I expanded my footprint into DC and Baltimore; one of my first true nightclub residencies was at Power Plant Live! where I learned how to play for diverse crowds that would often come from across the country. I then linked up with regionally respected music entertainment professional DJ L (Josh Levine), owner of Electra Entertainment. Levine sold me an entire sound system at a huge discount and mentored me into taking my DJ business from a side hustle into a true professional career. I learned the business side of managing bookings, clients, and DJ talent which proved essential after I branched out and started my DJ talent agency. As the owner of Sway Entertainment, I manage the DJ bookings for several nightlife venues in Baltimore and DC, in addition to booking talent for high-end private events, including corporate & weddings.

We all face challenges, but would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
While having the assistance of several mentors has certainly been essential to my success, there have also been many challenges. The DJ business has a notorious reputation as a cutthroat industry, and I had to learn early on that not everybody values business relationships or service quality as much as short-term personal gain. One of my greatest lessons was one I learned from my good friend Nick DiNicola, a longtime respected DJ in Baltimore (DJ Nick Names). Nick Names helped me realize that fostering friendships with like-minded DJs was the best way to learn and grow my career and network. That mindset has helped me achieve far more than I would have accomplished by randomly knocking on doors. The old saying they teach you is true. It’s not what you know but who you know. This lesson also inspired me to organize “DMV DJs,” a local support group for all DJs in Maryland and the local region. We host networking events and support local venues by bringing them business while filling their space with dozens of DJs each month that we meet.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
I first specialized in hosting and DJing international parties in the University of Maryland college scene. Coming from a mixed white American/Mexican American background, I fully embraced my Latino roots by becoming the go-to DJ for Latin nights that my circle and I would put on. My first DJ name was actually DJ Josué (my name in Spanish), and I didn’t become “DJ Sway” until expanding from my international circle to DJ more mainstream parties and venues. My current music style is a high-energy open format emphasizing house EDM/commercial dance remixes. I typically mix that in with a healthy dose of Hip Hop/Top 40 and still as many Latin/Caribbean hits as I can work in, depending on the room and residency I’m performing in on a given night. Crossing over crowds and bringing people of different backgrounds together all in one room is something I’ve always thrived at since the beginning. I pride myself on hitting different pockets of ethnic and age groups so that everybody, regardless of who they are, can leave the club at the end of the night feeling happy that they had a great time.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Having DJ’d now for over 10 years, I’ve been blessed with many amazing experiences. I have had the privilege of sharing the stage as an opener/closer DJ for many talented artists, including Mýa, Gorilla Zoe, The Eli Young Band, Who’s Bad Michael Jackson cover band, and most recently, this past summer, the Grammy Award winning band Train. I’m thankful to be able to perform several high-profile events every year, including Big Night DC and Shamrockfest. Every week, you can find me at some of the top open-format nightlife venues in DC and Baltimore on any given weekend. Special big thanks to my Baltimore industry family at Admiral’s Cup fells point, The Charles fed hill, and Wayward fed hill for helping me stay busy and out of trouble! Come see me spin and have a drink on me next time you’re out in the city.

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