André “DJ Puffy” Parris won the 2016 Red Bull Thre3Style 2016 World Deejay Championship in Chile. (GP)
THERE COMES a time in life where you have to make the ultimate decision and André Parris has proven that following your heart is using your head.
He had to choose between following his dream and conforming to society’s expectations.
He had no idea of what the future had in store for him but he took a leap of faith and as is said often, the rest is history.
On December 17 Parris, more familiarly known as DJ Puffy played his heart out in front of scores of Chileans and though he thought his performance could have been better, he won the Red Bull Thre3Style 2016 World Deejay Championship. He made history that day being the first person from the Caribbean to win the international event.
“It feels extremely heart-warming to be champion. I had no intention of winning the competition and it is humbling and amazing that I won; I went to Santiago to have fun and the result was positive,” he said.
“Coming out of the preliminaries I kind of had a good feel of the crowd and that gave me some confidence. Going into the finals therefore, I had one strategy – to be myself.
“I had a natural advantage over the other deejays in terms of genres. You were required to play three styles of music and it is our culture to listen to reggae, dancehall and soca; those are already three styles and I think I covered 10 genres in my set.
“I am pretty knowledgeable of Spanish music so I threw in some popular ones in my set to connect more with the crowd.”
Andre said he had to accept that as a deejay he could not master everything and therefore he had to showcase what he could do best.
“I could not go to the three style and try to be the most technical person because I am not. I’m a performer and an entertainer who is not as technical as the other guys. I just had to do what I do in every performance, that is to give full energy and spirit and it worked.”
Leaving Barbados at the height of the hype surrounding the 50th anniversary of Barbados’ Independence celebrations, André carried with him the pride of Barbados. On social media his local support was with him every step of the way.
“This win boosted my nationalism because I felt I was able to contribute to the 50th anniversary,” he said.
This win also speaks to the strength of our local culture industry.
“I feel it has changed the view of how people perceive disc jockeys. Someone told me I have no idea of how much I have influenced peoples mind-set now and people’s perception about careers, not just about deejays but careers in the arts as well; there are absolute areas for people like us to excel globally and I was able to make an example out of it.”
When asked about his love for music, André told Easy it was derived from his mother Denise Williams. Grenada born Denise is an entertainer and performed while pregnant with him.
“Mama Puff is my rock, she is my anchor and I look to my mom for mental emotional and physical support. She is my best friend and I don’t keep anything from her. She is definitely one of my role models and she tells me she is proud of me everyday and doesn’t flinch when it comes to that.
“My mom practically raised me by herself. My mother is very independent and her hustling mentality was definitely passed onto me.”
Winning the Red Bull Thre3Style 2016 World Deejay Championship is only the beginning for André; he has a bright future ahead proving to the world that it is okay to chase after your dream even if the odds are against you. In 2013 he realised that he had to start living for himself and not trying to live up to society’s wants.
“I realised Information Technology and tennis was not for me when I stopped studying at UWI. I was trying to balance school and my career at Slam and it was not working out and I had to choose between school and my dream.
“That experience was messed up because we come up in this society where people want to put you down a certain path when your heart is not for it.”
The 25 year-old called it the battle between what he wanted to be verses what society wanted him to be.
“Dealing with it internally was rough because here you are with all these eyes on you expecting you to become x and you want go after something that is not even certain, it was a leap of faith.
“My management was always supportive of my ideas and other than my mother, Ryan Leslie (international producer and entrepreneur) was another significant person who helped me. He has this fan base thing that if you signup for it you get a personal number for him so I messaged him and said “Ryan I am in a little pot hole”. I outlaid the story to him, noting school fees were on the verge of increasing and I asked for advice and he said he would do what he could afford and that was the final nail in the coffin for me; I owe it to him although he doesn’t really know me per say.”
The former Combermerian said that looking back, he made the right decision despite disapproval from some family members. As music is his way of life, right now he is working on releasing tracks to go along with his performances on stage and incorporating special effects.
When André believes in something he is not afraid to say. During a recent performance at Puff of Colours he spoke on the subject- Black Lives Matter. Though he was hit by a negative storm of comments on social media for it, he told Easy that the topic is a social issue affecting people across the world and he had to state his opinion.
“We have a voice. Our society is moulded into conforming and there is a black sheep out there who is just willing to say something is wrong. I had something to say and I said it and there are people who feel the same way as I do and said to me they respected me more for voicing my concern.”
Andre said he doesn’t plan to stop. (SB)