When you first enter Vain Nightclub, you can already tell by the crowd of college students partying that the club is at its high point of the evening. Walking farther into the club, every person is blasted to the core by the beat of the bass, and every stranger is brought together by a shared love — the music by the disc jockey. The regular DJ for Thursday college nights at Vain, DJ Justin James, knows this and uses this to his advantage here. Everywhere he goes he brings the excitement of the music and atmosphere, which is one of the things that makes him such a popular DJ.
Justin James Hewett, 27 and recent 2010 UCF alumnus with a bachelor’s of science in legal studies and a minor in business, is a popular and expanding DJ who started his career off in the Orlando area. Over the past few years, he has grown to become a popular name in various venues around the nation and slowly around the world, like at Club Space in Miami for the Dayglow Tour, The Whiskey Blue in Los Angeles and even as a DJ for MTVU Spring Break in 2008 and 2009.
Hewett, originally from Tennessee and raised on southern rock, developed a love for all kinds of music, everything from the ‘50s to anything mainstream at the time. At the age of 16, he moved to South Florida. He describes this as being the best thing that happened to him.
“It really opened up my eyes to different cultures and different music,” Hewett said.
A few years later, at age 19, he started becoming serious about being a DJ. He attended Ultra Music Festival in 2005, which is a big electronic music festival in Miami that showcases some of the most famous DJs in the world. Hewett said this was a life-changing moment for him.
“I remember I was there with a bunch of my friends, and there was this guy, Junkie XL, DJing,” he said. “He played this remix for ‘Fight for Your Right’ by the Beastie Boys, and there [were] literally 30,000 people all staring at this one guy on the stage. At that moment, I was like ‘that’s what I want to do.’
“There’s nothing better than that.”
In 2008, Hewett moved to Orlando to attend UCF, and he joined the Sigma Chi fraternity. He explained that they had the most connections at bars and club venues, which allowed him to start doing sets on the east side of town and then eventually in downtown Orlando, which led to booking sets across the nation.
Through his time as a DJ in East Orlando, Hewett met many DJs with whom he established great bonds with, one being his now long-time friend DJ Brian “Docta” Dawe. Dawe, who is a Valencia College student, first met Hewett DJing at Knight Library.
“I could tell his personality was different than anything I’ve seen in Orlando before,” Dawe said. “His DJ skill, his style, his image and even his hair. It was something that was rare to Orlando. He had something I’ve never seen before.”
They exchanged numbers then, and for six years, they worked together in many corporate venues, mixed many collaborations and even did a groundbreaking four-turntable corporate event that was never done before.
“He has a diverse background in music,” Dawe said. “We both come from a more traditional DJ background and have true fundamental DJ skills.”
Kevin Young, the assistant general manager of Vain Nightclub and 2010 UCF finance alumnus and a friend of Hewett throughout college for seven years, has seen him grow and helped contribute to Hewett’s success in Orlando and spread his name.
“I’ve seen him grow from the local DJ scene and now he travels,” Young said. "He does pretty well and brings in a lot of business. He is very diverse. Sometimes he’ll have more of a hip-hop crowd and he’ll cater to them. He can pretty much play to the crowd.”
Hewett sees a bright future for himself through his constant dedication to his craft, ability to network and, most importantly, his passion to fuel the crowd.
One of his favorite venues is Masquerade in Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. Once, at 2 a.m., he went on in front of 30,000 people. Now, he has plenty of big sets lined up within the next year ranging from Los Angeles and Miami to Puerto Rico and possibly a set in Paris this upcoming New Year’s Eve. Hewett also plans to be signed to a major management company by age 30, and he sees in the distant future, after he has retired from DJing at public venues, opening a DJ management company and staying within the music industry.
Describing his experience throughout the years as awakening and life-altering, Hewett plans to continue to work in the music industry as long as he can, playing and producing music that not only he loves and enjoys but everyone around him too.