We had the good fortune of connecting with Devin Callen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Devin, how do you think about risk?
Taking risks has played a massive role in my career thus far. I would say dating back all the way to 2013. This is when I knew music was what I wanted to do. I attended my first EDC Las Vegas and was instantly hooked. It was during this exact weekend, I looked up at the DJ and told myself in my head, this is exactly what I want to do and that I as going to do whatever it takes to achieve that goal. Let me tell you a little about some of the risks I have taken to get to where I am at today. In 2014, I discovered a school called Scratch Dj Academy located in Los Angeles. I instantly wanted to attend! I showed my parents, and they were fully supportive. I love them to death for allowing me to chase my dreams and to this day am forever thankful for their support. However, nothing was just handed to me. They wanted me to follow my passion, but in order to do so I needed to save up the right amount of money. Fast forward several months, I took the leap of faith and moved to the city. I had no family or friends in the area. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous. I was in uncharted territory. I would say about a month after settling down, I visited the school for the first time and began my class’s. Everything was so new to me. I had no knowledge in this career field whatsoever. I met so many amazing individuals and quickly began making friends who Id frequently support whenever they had shows. From that moment, I would go there almost every day whenever I had spare time and practice for hours. I did not have my own setup at my apartment yet, but luckily, I lived near the school and was able to practice as often as I could! In 2015, I eventually completed the DJ courses and decided to enroll in the music production program they had which lasted several months. During these courses, I was taught the basic fundamentals. This was a huge turning point for me on my journey as I became obsessed with making music! Every day id get home from work and instantly open my laptop to work on making tunes. I went on to complete these courses, however, I still wanted to learn so much more! A good friend of mine who was also an instructor at the school told me about this place called Icon Collective located in Burbank. He had previously graduated from there, and said that if I wanted to take my production to the next level that I should consider looking into their curriculum. So, I went home later that day and did just that. I remember visiting their website first, then their YouTube page. I couldn’t believe what I saw. A few of the Producers who I looked up to in the industry actually graduated from this same exact school! At this point, I was so inspired and motivated to go there! I started researching how much the tuition was, and the equipment I needed. As excited as I was though, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little discouraged. I say this because at the time I was working two jobs and barely getting by. It was going to be impossible to save that type of money the way I was living. I sat alone in my thoughts for quite some time trying to figure out what I could do, but in all actuality, there was nothing I could do. Except one thing. If I was really serious about making music my career, I had to move back home. I asked myself If I was willing to do whatever it takes in order to make this dream become a reality. My answer was yes. No matter how hard it was to swallow my pride, I knew it was my only option. With that being said, in the summer of 2016 I decided to pack my bags and move back to my hometown to live with my father. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about moving back home after living in LA for two years. It just felt like my world was crumbling and that everything I had worked for was coming to an end. I constantly reminded myself that moving back home was temporary. It was all a part of the journey. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy. The goal was to find a job, save up as much money as I possibly could, and pay for my full tuition in full within 2 years. Luckily I was able to get a job with a buddy of mine doing construction which helped me tremendously. I also DJ’d on the weekends at our local casino to earn some extra cash. After 2 years, I finally did it. I had saved up my full tuition for my dream school! I couldn’t believe my own eyes. To this day, I always tell people that was the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life. My parents always told me growing up that if you want something bad enough, you’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal. Well, that’s exactly what I did. Shortly after I moved back to Los Angeles and started my courses at Icon. This was the most amazing feeling in the world. Now here I sit today, November 5th 2020… and it’s been just under a year since I have graduated. I still live down here, and Im working just as hard if not harder than I have been the past 5-6 years. This brings me back to the main question, “what role has taking risks played in my career?..” I would say my entire music career up to this point has been based off taking risks. Had I not moved to LA in 2014 for Scratch DJ Academy, I would have never met the people I did, or learned how to DJ. I would have never discovered Icon Collective and pursued my passion for music production. I wouldn’t have an appreciation for the amount of hard work that goes into this career. I wouldn’t have met my girlfriend of 4 years who supports me more than anyone I have ever met. Finally, I wouldn’t have a team around me who believes in my vision. I hope that this story can inspire somebody to chase their dreams. If you truly want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to get there, no matter how hard it may seem at first. Set goals, and get after it!!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a DJ/Music Producer based out of Burbank. If I had to describe the music I make, I would say its a blend of Dubstep, Trap, and Hip Hop. A hybrid of all three of those really. I grew up listening to Rap, so I naturally love anything with 808’s and obnoxious bass (haha)… However, when I was introduced to electronic music.. I discovered trap which could be described as a combination of both worlds. I would say my work ethic sets me apart from a lot of people, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. As I said earlier, I have taken numerous risks in my career up to this point, and I think that has allowed me to not be afraid of anything anymore. I used to get nervous about failing, now I embrace it. Sometimes taking 2 steps back allows you to take 3 steps forward. Failure is all a part of the journey and it shouldn’t be something that intimidates us. Having confidence in myself and telling myself every day I will succeed, because I know I will. My journey of moving back and forth between LA in order to attend these schools will be lesson of a lifetime that I will never forget. The fact that I was able to set a goal that big and accomplish it pretty much gave me the affirmation I needed that I can literally do anything I set my mind to. I genuinely think that whole experience sets me a part from a lot of others in the game because I know what hard work feels like. Ive developed thick skin, and whenever I get knocked down, I get right back up. Things that have helped me become less stressed over the years would be working out every day, going on runs, hiking, playing video games, etc. It’s ok to have days where you do absolutely nothing, and it took me a long time to realize that. We are human, and deserve to relax every now and then. I got into this for the love of music, and making really weird noises haha. So, anytime Im ever feeling like I suck, I just gotta remind myself to have fun and not take things so seriously all the time. The things I am most proud of so far in my career this year, would have to be Excision downloading my song “Evocation,” which had me freaking for several days. That dude is my idol, so when that happened I felt like I was dreaming. Also, winning this remix competition via Buygore, and landing myself a spot on the official remix EP. Things like this gave me affirmation that I can actually do this as a career one day and really make a name for myself. I also have a ton of tracks in the works that will be coming out over the next several months in 2021. A ton of collaborations and solo songs on the way that I couldn’t be more excited to share with y’all! A little about the brand. CALLEN is the soul inside you that has been too shy to come forward until now. The inner voice inside of you who knows you better than anyone else, but you continue to push aside for fear of failure. The genuine side of you waiting to pour itself out for the world to see, but has shied itself away from its true potential because they are afraid of what others may think. CALLEN is the evocation of deep passion and happiness. A determined individual invoking a higher power within themselves to accomplish anything they set their minds to.
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.
Hmm.. that’s a good question. Los Angeles is so diverse. There are countless things to do here, I guess it just depends on the person. I would say if we were trying to party on a Friday or Saturday night, Id take them to Academy which is one of the best night clubs in Hollywood. That place gets wild! Some of the biggest names in dance music perform there every weekend. Definitely one of my favorites! I would say if we were looking for great food, there are numerous places here in the Valley (North Hollywood and Downtown Burbank area) that have AMAZING food. Downtown Los Angeles also has plenty of hidden gems if you know where to go. I tend to take my friends and family who haven’t been here too many times to places near Santa Monica which is about 20-30 min away from where I live without traffic. Third Street Promenade has tons of shopping, food, movie theaters, etc. It’s also walking distance to the beach/pier which is always a great time! So I would definitely spend a day or two in those areas! I truly enjoy being outside, and there are tons of beautiful trails to go hike if you know where to go. I would definitely spend another day doing something along those lines! Wisdom tree is a really cool spot to go that over looks all of LA and the Valley so id probably take them there, or maybe visit some areas in Malibu such as Escondido Falls which takes you to an insane waterfall. The possibilities are endless here, so it really just depends who is visiting!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Oh man, where do I begin? There are so many incredible individuals I have met along this journey who have helped shaped me into the person I am today. Without these people, I wouldn’t be in the position I am in now making the music I love. I hope I don’t leave anyone out, as I have quite a few shout outs!! First and foremost, I want to thank my mom and dad. I can’t say enough about them. I don’t think anyone realizes just how big of an impact they have had on my life. They have believed in me from day one, and continue to support me through thick and thin. They taught me what hard work is, and nothing in life is handed to you. hey are the backbone for everything CALLEN stands for. Without them, none of this would be possible. I have the best family in the world! My beautiful girlfriend Charlene Milla. This woman is my world. Without her, Id be lost. She has been there from the very beginning, when I would play shows and nobody showed up except her. She was there when I hit rock bottom, and always finds a way to make me smile even on my worst days. She works harder than any person I know, and always has my back though the good times and the bad. I am forever grateful to have her in my life and love her more than life itself! I want to give a major shout out to the staff both at Icon Collective College of Music, as well as Scratch DJ Academy. To name a few people from Scratch… DJ Revolution, Mr. Choc, Hapa.. Without y’all, I wouldn’t know a damn thing about DJ culture. These guys are legends, and are the ones who taught me everything about being a DJ. They helped me get some of my first club gigs. This brings me to my family over at Icon. I want to shout out Sean J, Vito Finamore, Mesta Bish, Chase Jackson, Brooke Ferguson, Jon Pegnato, Paul Laski, Aaron Perez, and so many others the list goes on and on. All these people played a crucial role in my musical journey prior to enrolling, during, and after. Whether it was mentoring/teaching, helping me find a place to live, or just being a close friend, ill always cherish these people! Without both these schools, I would be no-one! I want to take this time to also thank my managers James Gross, and Jonathan Kyte for taking a chance on me. These guys saw something in me that I didn’t know I had. They give me the confidence I need whenever I am feeling down, and work countless hours to bring the CALLEN project to life. All the behind the scenes work that a lot of people may not see, is 100% owed to these gentlemen. We lift each other up and push each other to continuously work harder every day. I know that anything is possible with a team around me, and these guys are not only my managers but lifelong friends. I owe them more than they will ever know.
Other: soundcloud.com/callenmusic https://open.spotify.com/
James Gross Instagram – @Spawnzone ———————————– Chris Kim Instagram – @ckimphotography_