Published on October 11th, 2022 | by Charles Myambo0
Dj Vlad Interview: Uncovering the Journey of Pop Culture’s Leading Celebrity Interviewer | Vlad TV
The rare ability to connect audiences to their favorite celebrities is quite imperative. There are only a handful of people in the world who have the gift to seamlessly interview some of the most prominent celebrities of our generation. Arguably, the foremost person where celebrity interviews are concerned is none other than the legendary, Dj Vlad. He is a man who needs no introduction, and his phenomenal reputation precedes him. With each passing day, Dj Vlad is beginning to really establish himself as a perennial media mogul alongside names like Oprah Winfrey and Joe Rogan. He is also the founder & CEO of the globally acclaimed media conglomerate known as Vlad TV. The Hype Magazine’s Life & Style correspondent, Charles Myambo (CM) had an interview with Dj Vlad (DV). Below are some excerpts from the interview.
CM: I’m fairly certain you’ve had your fair share of doubters and naysayers. How would you describe the contrast in treatment by people when you had nothing in comparison to nowadays where you’ve established yourself as a real heavy hitter?
DV: Doubting and naysaying gets more extreme the bigger your audience becomes. When I was a Mixtape DJ doing interviews and holding the video camera myself, everyone embraced me. As our following got bigger, there was much more polarization and criticism. This is not unique to me. It happens to everyone. But ultimately, you create content to start a discussion. And that discussion, good or bad, will continue increasing your audience.
CM: You’re where you are today because you deserve it. How often do you take some time just to reflect, reminisce and appreciate your life journey?
DV: Every day. There were a lot of risks that I took throughout my life that allowed me to be where I am today. I moved from Oakland to New York in 2002 with almost no money in my pocket. I slept on a friend’s couch because I couldn’t afford to get my own apartment. There were times I didn’t have enough money to buy a meal. I drove a shitty car that would constantly break down. I went over my cell phone minutes one month and got a bill so big that it wiped out what little savings I had. I would walk around Brooklyn and Queens with a backpack full of mixtapes and leave them on consignment with music stands – sometimes I would go to pick up my money but lose the consignment slips and they wouldn’t pay me. To go from all that to where I am today isn’t something that I take for granted. In the back of my mind, there’s always that fear that I could go back to that place again.
CM: It’s well documented that from a relatively young age, you were keenly fascinated by Hip-Hop. What exactly made a kid from Europe gravitate towards Hip-Hop?
DV: I was born in Ukraine, but at that time it was still part of Russia (USSR). When we moved to the US, Russia and American relations were worse than they are now. There was a real fear that a nuclear war between the two countries was a possibility. My family settled down in San Mateo, CA where I was the only Russian kid in my school – with a Russian name. I went through a lot of abuse from other kids at the time. One kid even said he could shoot me and nothing would happen because I was Russian. I punched him in the face. That was around the time that Hip-Hop started to make its way to the West Coast. I was instantly drawn to it because I was going through a similar type of discrimination to the one the rappers were talking about. That’s when my love affair with Hip-Hop started. And I’m still in love with it 40 years later.
CM: Still on the subject of Hip-Hop. Did you have aspirations of being a rapper at some point?
DV: Very briefly in college. I was mostly focusing on making beats at the time, so I tried my hand at rapping, but I quickly saw that I wasn’t very good at it. I even performed once at a club with the rap group that I was producing. Luckily, YouTube wasn’t around at the time so there’s no footage of it. I was pretty bad. lol
CM: Having started out predominantly as a DJ, how did you transition into the globally renowned celebrity host you are today?
DV: I decided to become a full-time DJ at age 29, later than many of my DJ peers. I quickly saw how hard of a hustle it was. Waiting on promoters to book you in order to make your rent isn’t a very good way to live your life. Being a broke DJ at 40 was something I had nightmares about. So, I started to look for ways to leverage my DJ career into something that can be sustainable as I got older. CDs were going away, so I knew the Mixtape DJ thing wasn’t going to last either. So, I moved into making DVDs, but that started to go away as well. When YouTube launched its Partner Program in 2008, I instantly saw the future in it. I stopped doing DJ gigs, stopped making mixtapes, and stopped doing DVD’s. I put all my time into the YouTube channel. Ultimately, that gamble paid off.
CM: I’m an avid admirer of yours and the way you curate your content. As a celebrity interviewer, how do you keep the balance between asking juicy questions and still being respectful towards your guests?
DV: There’s a way to ask a person anything and still maintain a level of respect. I’ve never been the type of interviewer that asks questions in the hope that the person gets angry and walks out. The few times that we did have a guest walk out, we would cut that footage out. But at the end of the day, I take every interview very seriously and I’m not going to shy away from the questions that my audience wants to hear.
CM: Speaking of celebrity interviews, is there any interview you can think of that felt like a defining moment for you in your rise as a host/presenter?
DV: I think my interview with Keefe D, which essentially solved the 2Pac murder case. Keefe is the last surviving person that was in the car that shot 2Pac in Las Vegas. There have been so many conspiracy theories of who killed 2Pac – from Suge Knight to the government, to him still being alive. To be able to get a first-hand account of someone who was actually involved in the murder of arguably the most important rapper of all time is something that I’m the proudest of.
CM: Have you ever felt intimidated by the sheer stature of one of your celebrity guests and why?
DV: All the time. It usually happens with celebrities that I was a fan of before Hip-Hop became my career. People like Mike Tyson, Chaka Khan, Teddy Riley, etc. I’m always nervous at the start of the interview, but after about 15 minutes I “man up” and realize that I have a job to do.
CM: At present, who in the world would you like to interview the most and who would you like to interview the least (if any)?
DV: I think an interview with Eminem would be epic. We’re almost the same age and have a similar history of being white kids in Hip-Hop. I’ve never actually met him and he’s way too rich to take a payment for an interview, so it would have to be something he would want to do with me. In terms of people, I would want to interview the least, it would be conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. I really try to avoid figures like that.
CM: On a bit of a sour note, your hometown of Kyiv and Ukraine as a nation is under unjust attack. What has the experience been like for you and how best can we as society help the great nation of Ukraine and those most affected?
DV: It’s a sad situation. I think that continuing to keep Ukraine in the media will help their cause. Once the war started, I added a Ukrainian flag to my Twitter profile. We do regular coverage of the war and I bring it to my guests when applicable. Invasions like this are able to succeed when they’re kept quiet. This is why Russia puts its own people in jail if they publicly refer to it as a “war” instead of a “military exercise”.Tweet