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The Man Behind the Music
Long before he was ever known as DJ Pusha, Jason J. Torres realized his intense passion for music. The diverse rhythms, the strong beats, the timeless melodies… he loved it all! But mostly, he loved the way music has the power to unlock immense emotion, create lasting memories, and connect us not only to each other, but to a deeper part of ourselves. Music was his first love. “I was in love. And as we all know, when you’re in love, you have to share it with the world.”
The Wonder Years
Jason grew up in a very lively apartment on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx. The oldest boy in a family of 8 kids, keeping everyone entertained seemed inherent for Jason. “Some of the happiest times spent in that apartment were when dad would plug in the turntables and put on some of his old school hip-hop, freestyle and dance records. The whole family would inevitably be drawn into the living room by the sounds of Run DMC, KRS-One, Planet Patrol, TKA, Afrika Bambaataa, Naughty By Nature and that’s just the few I can think of.” It wasn’t too long until Jason was standing right next to his father asking questions and taking notes on which songs he liked the best.
At the young age of 15, long before there were laptops or mp3s, Jason was booking parties all throughout his neighborhood. To say his amateur operation was ‘bare-bones’ wouldn’t give the new DJ nearly enough credit. Every penny Jason had went to music. Any neighbor who was upgrading their sound system knew to give Jason their old one. Even if it was broken (like a few he had pulled out of the trash) he’d get them to work. The local librarian would even set aside new CDs for him to check-out first.
Jason’s party set-up was even more complex. Armed with an ever-growing collection of CDs and CD changers stacked one on top of the other, Jason was known to ask the host for any boom-boxes or speakers from around the house that he could intricately wire together to ensure a night of seamless music. “I didn’t have any DJ equipment. I was a baby. But we would use anything we could find. I would walk into a house where I was about to DJ and they would already have electronics that they grabbed from different rooms or from neighbors just sitting in a pile on the floor. Now, I love wires almost as much as I love music. My eyes would get all big and I’d dive right in.” Because his set-up consisted of about 10 CDs ordered, pre-loaded and ready for him to push play at the exact right time, his fans began to lovingly refer to their self-made, grass-roots DJ as DJ Push-a-Button.
“Of course at that age, most parties were for friends-of-friends and friends-of-aunties so the pay wasn’t much.” But for this enthusiastic kid, the best kind of payment came when he reached for the next CD, pulled off the post-it listing his favorite picks, pushed play, and was instantly overcome with a deafening roar of cheers and applause. “There was no greater feeling than the one that comes from playing the perfect song. The same goes for today. It’s like the energy of the crowd surges through me and right at that moment, even I can’t contain myself! I just want to yell and laugh and dance all at the same time! It’s incredible.”
As Jason went on to graduate from high school, he was faced with a reality many of us know all too well – the time had come to “grow up,” get a “real job” and make some “real money.” Sporting a crisp suit and tie, Jason would follow the daily 8am stream of working class down Kingsbridge Ave and onto the Manhattan-bound 4 train. He quickly became very successful working as a sales rep in the fashion district. And to put it bluntly, Jason was enjoying his success exactly the way he thought he should – lavishly. He thought he had it all, but something was missing. As if almost subconsciously, more and more of Jason’s income was being spent on music and turntables, speakers and mixers. He began to slip out at night to DJ. The affair started innocently enough but soon it went from a couple Saturdays a month to a couple nights each week. Jason was in deep. Before long he found himself throwing a huge party in an empty Bronx Warehouse for a few hundred soon-to-be friends. Let’s not forget; this is the story of a man in love. And once you’ve found love, there’s no substitution.
Jason left his corporate job and enrolled in classes at DubSpot, NYC’s notorious music production and DJ school. There, Jason was taught by DJ legends including the world-renowned and 2009 DMC World DJ Finals Champion (the only American DJ to date to have won the DMC Battle for World Supremacy), DJ Shiftee. “I was getting serious about my music and I didn’t think Push-a-Button would fly in the professional arena of DJing. But a friend of mine, Edwin Cruz convinced me to not change it completely. That name was cheesy, but that name was also where I came from. That name was something to be proud of.” In 1999, celebrating a new beginning and honoring the name gifted to him by his very first fans, Jason shortened his name to DJ Pusha and began to DJ professionally.
DJ Pusha’s popularity took off swiftly and has been on the rise ever since. DJ Pusha has wowed crowds in NY’s high-end clubs and lounges, including Bayard’s of Wall Street and the White House Night Club in the Hamptons. He has been featured in time-honored establishments around the country such as The Hillcrest Golf & Country Club in Hollywood, FL, La Panetiere in Rye, NY and has even performed at events for the national Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He has mixed for corporate parties and club openings; weddings and community festivals in settings as local as Bronx public schools and as far as Caribbean resorts. “Every city and every venue is different. Every event is unique. Even music changes, you know. But one thing is always the same – the amazing power music has to connect people. The crowd resonates with an energy that you can lose yourself in. In that moment, life itself is a celebration – with its own rhythm and pulse.” Rooftops, parks, beaches, barns, no matter the setting, DJ Pusha (who is also a certified electrician and computer technician) knows exactly what to bring . . . to bring the party. With almost 15 years of experience in the music industry, DJ Pusha has performed live for over 600 events.
Throughout the years he has studied musicology and honed his craft. Driven by his relentless curiosity, DJ Pusha has become a connoisseur of all genres and generations of music: Hip-Hop, R&B, Soul, Funk, Latin, Dance, Reggae, Soca, Motown, Folk, Alternative, Classic Rock – you name it; he plays it. His expertise and professionalism coupled with his energy and charm ensures that each party is especially focused on creating the most unique and memorable celebration possible.
From Passion to Profession
From Profession to Purpose
DJ Pusha has held the honor of being voted one of the “Best DJs of the Tri-State” by Tri-State Event Planners in 2009 and has been seen performing on MTV’s The Heights. When he isn’t performing live, DJ Pusha coordinates and hosts Open-Mic Nights for aspiring young singers, rappers, and poets. “There are so many young talented artists who never share their gifts just because they’ve never been given the chance to do so. I’m like, ‘if no one is giving you the opportunity, you have to make it yourself.’ And I hope by organizing stuff like this they’ll look at me and realize, ‘if Pusha pulled all this together, then why can’t I do the same?’.”
A true believer that success is worthless unless you are giving back, DJ Pusha’s love for his community doesn’t stop there. Each September, in a Bronx cooperative park called The College Avenue Garden, DJ Pusha throws a free, kid-friendly, community party, complete with magicians, clowns, and balloon artists. He has been known to donate his services by performing for events at the local soup kitchen known as POTS on Webster Ave in the Bronx. And when a couple from that soup kitchen timidly asked if he could put together a CD for their upcoming wedding, DJ Pusha graciously offered to DJ their reception free-of-charge. THIS is DJ Pusha. This is the man behind the music. When I asked Pusha what motivates him to put so much of himself into sharing his art with others, he smiled and said, “I guess it’s my purpose. If my love for music can make a special moment in someone’s life even more unforgettable – if I can put a lasting soundtrack to those memories, especially if that someone wouldn’t be able to afford it otherwise, then, from my viewpoint up here in the DJ booth, I have the best job in the world.”
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