Young or old, experienced or not, anyone can enroll in a class at Astro Mix Lab, a school in Glendale that teaches the art of music mixology, basics and beyond. Davey Rockit started Astro Mix Lab in October 2009, and since then nearly 2,000 students have attended the six-week beginner or advanced courses or one-on-one training sessions on becoming a skilled DJ.
A native of Nashville who struggled to find help learning the craft, Rockit said the idea of a school for DJs came from wanting a greater sense of community in his profession. “A lot of us guys, once we know our tricks, we don’t want to share it with anybody,” he said. “I’ve always felt that if you create something and show someone else how to do it, it will just open doors for you to create more things and challenge you a bit.”
Students can choose from four courses: beginning scratching, beginning mixing, advanced scratching and advanced mixing. The school also teaches other essentials, including how to set up and break down equipment and the business side of DJ-ing. Each class is limited to eight students at a time, ensuring that every student has dedicated time from his or her instructor.
“I really wanted to teach the art behind it and the history in the hope of making superstar DJs,” said Rocket, who also works as a producer and performer with L.A.-based hip-hop artist Pigeon John.
Astro Mix Lab is a subsidiary of Astro, a DJ equipment shop that first opened in MacArthur Park 37 years ago but has called Glendale home for the past 25. Astro boasts customers that include Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Cypress Hill and the Beastie Boys. Numark and Pioneer have sponsored the school with more than $65,000 in equipment. (Rockit isn¹t sure about the total.) Six-week class sessions start at $295. (For more information, see astromixlab.com.)
A number of local DJs work as instructors at Astro Mix Lab. Johnny Yono, a progressive house and trance DJ, taught beginner’s CDJ classes in April 2011 where students learn on CD turntables. “I love coming in and seeing my students,” Yono said. “They’re so receptive to your words and your knowledge, and it’s great to see that. It’s a great feeling.”