Beat pusher, crowd shaker, savvy money maker

Local DJ Tony DeSaro is a key figure in Dayton’s notoriously fragmented dance music scene

By Wu W.A.N.G

Tony DeSaro is about making things happen. This Dayton DJ’s name is everywhere these days, whether he’s involved with high-profile music events throughout the Midwest, particularly Dayton and Columbus, or playing “hella tight” sets at a house party or club for loyal locals. Recently he’s been staying busy promoting national touring events such as the recent CNTRL: Beyond EDM party at Club Masque. I caught up with Tony during the week leading up to one of the biggest nights that Dayton has seen in years.

Would addressing you as Mr. Multiple Multitasker be adequate?

Man, multiple is right. I’ve been working with Prime Social Group and Disco Donnie for the past few years and they are definitely keeping me busy with promoting shows. And I’m not talking about DJing. -Tony DeSaro

How do you handle the politics of the Dayton scene?

I try my best to stay out of the politics and do what I feel is right for our scene as a whole. Everyone will have different opinions and I do have mine, but I also understand and try to remain open to the opinions of others about how this scene should grow. –TD

Is it really about the music for you?

I am one hundred percent all about the music. I have taken what I love to do and figured out how to make a living doing what I’m passionate about. –TD

What first got you involved with DJing?

Around 1991, I saved and bought my first used pair of turntables after traveling to Florida and watching a friend scratch records on Technics. After that, I spent all of my spare time learning to scratch and mix vinyl. -TD

How do you describe your method of rocking the crowd?

I starting playing music in the Top 40 clubs and learned how to read a dance floor. Regardless of your style, I feel that’s an important skill. I like to slowly build my sets while building anticipation and momentum on the dance floor. -TD

Do you record your dance mixes?

I have not recorded myself since ‘05. I am, like most DJs/artists, my own worst enemy. I’m kind of a perfectionist when it comes to my mixing. So, it’s never the right mix. -TD

Who makes your ideal party line-up talent-wise?

If I had to give you a line-up, it would read: Sasha and Digweed, Dubfire, Richie Hawtin, Adam Beyer, Claude Vonstroke and Nic Fanciulli. These guys are all top-notch producers who also DJ. For them, it’s not about playing tracks from Beatport’s Top 100. -TD

What was the biggest party you were involved with promoting?

I would have to say the Electric Forest Festival which did 40,000 people this year. -TD

How big was the largest crowd you have played for?

I think there must have been 5,000 people in front of me. -TD

What is it about music that makes you do what you do?

I just love the way music makes me feel. I can listen to a song and smile, or I can listen to a song and frown. Music just does it for me. –TD

Is P.L.U.R (Peace, Love, Unity, Respect) still in effect within the scene?

I think that it’s still there, but not as strong as it used to be. -TD

What do you get back from the audience?

Smiles, compliments and thrills from knowing that I can make people move while I’m playing music that I love. –TD

Have you ever thought of getting a dance music label started?

I had a record label for a while with a few friends that was somewhat successful. But for now, I have enough on my plate. -TD

How can we get more people to support the scene?

By reaching out to the younger generations, making them aware that we do have a scene here and teaching them about how it started. –TD

Do you feel that the lack of club venues is holding Dayton back?

No, the important thing is that everyone in our scene needs to support local events. -TD

When I think of larger music/festival events, the city of Detroit comes to mind, because it’s always involved and supportive. How do we get Dayton to do the same?

With electronic music being as big as it is, I think it’s possible, but the real challenge is convincing corporate sponsors, talent agencies and financial backers that we could pull off a large, city-sponsored event. -TD

How can local record stores be more supportive of DJs?

They have to be more open to the scene and the scene would support in return. Every DJ would live in a record store, so maybe having a few more displays dedicated to vinyl lovers, or letting some DJs play in-store sets. –TD

Is your preference to perform or be behind the scenes?

I love both. I love to DJ more, but at the end of the day, it’s a party and parties make people feel good and smile. -TD

How do you stay focused on your goals?

By not giving up, staying humble and knowing that I can accomplish them. –TD

Reach DCP freelance writer Wu W.A.N.G. at

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