OTTAWA — What started as a way for him to one-up his friend soon became a passion for Jake Stechschulte.
Stechschulte, 20, and an Ottawa native, has been a disc jockey for about four years, but it all began when his friend challenged him to out-DJ him at another friend’s party.
“I just kind of took it several steps farther,” Stechschulte said. “I just kind of fell in love with it.”
He now goes by DJ Sky and is booking for the summer, though he already has several events, weddings and shows already scheduled.
After teaching himself with YouTube videos of other DJs and talking to DJs at his school dances, Stechschulte said people took a chance on him, and then his work took off through word of mouth.
He first imitated other DJs sound and style and then started finding his own.
“I like to mix current hip hop music and top 40 with classic,” he said.
He’s found his fans in Ottawa like the mixture of 80s rap and rock with more popular songs, but his occasional Toledo audience prefers just songs on the top 40 charts.
“I like a variety of stuff,” he said.
Stechschulte describes his work as a DJ as a “way of thanking music for helping me out with everything. … Basically music was always kind of an outlet for me, and I couldn’t sing or play an instrument.”
He started at 16 with a “terrible” laptop and speakers. Over time, he was able to purchase better equipment and do more shows.
“What interested me was just kind of the feel of being able to control a crowd’s emotions,” Stechschulte said. “[I could] set it high or set [it low].”
When he does a show at local Ottawa bars, he likes to “slowly build up the hype of music.”
This summer, he’s playing on June 20, July 18 and Aug. 8 at The Well in Glandorf.
Though music is a passion for him, Stechschulte doesn’t plan on being a DJ for a living. He attends the University of Toledo and hopes to one day become a high school guidance counselor.
“I’ll probably keep [DJing] for as long as I can,” he said.
He mostly performs in Ottawa and said the community support, and support from his former high school classmates, has been great.
“I have to thank everyone for taking risks on me,” Stechschulte said. “It’s amazing how close this whole community is around here.”