Hey, DJ : TonyTone

Credit: Jonny Rios

In the next coming week, those who appreciate the sport of football are gearing up for another season of yelling, praying, and tried-and-true rituals. As an official DJ for the 49ers, DJ TonyTone is also prepping a playlist of hype jams for a stadium of fans who are eager to see their franchise return to winning once again.

Starting his DJ career at the age of 15,  the local DJ’s first gig ended up with him getting pulled over, a story which he shares with us below. However, things have definitely looked up since then, especially with him deciding to pursue his passion full-time and officially becoming the 49ers DJ in recent years.

We talked to TonyTone about his DJ origins, his bittersweet move toward’s full-time DJing, and best post-gig meals. Catch him this Saturday, Sept. 9, at Bruno’s SF and Sundays at Levi’s Stadium for 49ers games.

When was the first time you realized you wanted to pursue DJing?
When I was 15 years old. I went to my uncle’s house that was a DJ. I remember going there for the first time and seeing crates of records and his turntables set up in his living room. I was very curious about how it all worked so he taught me the basics, and I ran with it.

How was your first gig, how did it go?
My first gig was a house party for some seniors at my high school. I didn’t have a driver’s license yet, so my older cousin had to drive me there. I remember people coming up and requesting songs I didn’t have [laughs]. This was the pre-Serato/digital take-over, around ’00-’01,  so my record collection consisted of mostly freestyle, ’80s music that was handed down to me, and hip-hop.

It was a little embarrassing, but the kids from my high school knew I was still new to this so they were cool about everything. At the end of the party, my cousin got too drunk to drive, so I had to drive home, with no license or driving permit. Of course I end up getting pulled over and got a ticket [laughs].

When did you start your full-time DJ career, and how did it feel?
It was definitely a bittersweet feeling. I decided to make the leap when I was around 24 to quit my job working at a cell phone store.  I had a lot going on personally at this time. I was getting ready to move to L.A. and attend Cal State Northridge, but my high-school sweetheart went into a coma for several years. At that point, I put my life on hold and stopped everything I was doing to be with her and her family at the hospital. After she passed, it really changed my whole perspective on life, and I knew I had nothing to lose. I had no fear, so I decided to pick myself up, move forward, and try my best to live a happy life knowing that’s what she would have wanted for me, and I knew following my passion for DJing would help me accomplish that.

I never open up publicly about this story, but I feel this is a good platform to reach people, and if someone is reading this and is afraid to pursue their dreams or passion, because of fear of the unknown, to do it! Take that leap of faith! Life is short and precious so do what you love!

What’s one of the challenges DJing as a full-time career?
For me, it’s working to keep my calendar as full as possible. I am essentially an independent contractor, so I have to work in order to pay the bills.

This means going out on nights I don’t DJ, to network and continue building relationships with other industry people. The older I get, the harder it is to motivate myself to want to do this, but I know I have to.

What are some ways you take care of yourself, as this job can be very taxing on the mind and body?
I was on a competitive soccer team in my teens and we practiced almost everyday year round so being in shape was mandatory or you would get cut from the team.

This carried over into my adult life, so being active and working out four to five times a week is something I enjoy doing. I don’t drink (that much) either, considering the line of work I’m in. I’ve been doing a lot of meal prepping too. I’m always on the go and don’t have time to cook, so having healthier meals ready to go when I’m hungry helps a lot.

Oh, and try to get as much sleep as possible. I’m still working on that one.

If you weren’t a DJ, you would be a ____ ?
I have a degree in anthropology and I never knew how I would apply that as a career. But I love music so much, I would definitely be doing something music related if I wasn’t a DJ

Congrats on being an official 49ers DJ as well. Tell me about your experience as a Niner DJ and who are some of your favorite players?
Thanks! Being one of the DJs for my home team is truly a dream come true. I never would have thought I would have the opportunity to play music for my favorite football team.

My first day was truly unreal. I remember pulling up to the stadium and walking through the tunnel the players come out of and on to the field to do sound check for a pregame set just smiling ear to ear, pinching myself, asking if this is real? I even forgot my headphones on my first game and I didn’t realize there was a two-second delay from the speakers to where I’m stationed. But since I already don’t normally wear headphones to DJ, I was able to pull it off and mix on beat!

What are some songs that you foresee being crowd bangers this season?
I’ve been playing P-Lo ft. E-40’s “Put Me On Something” a lot! Definitely one of my favorite songs right now.

Also Latin and reggaeton music is making noise, and me being Hispanic, I like being able to incorporate some of that music into my sets:

“Buscando Huellas” – Major Lazer ft. J. Balvin & Sean Paul

“Mi Gente” – J. Balvin ft. Willy William

“Felices Los 4” – Maluma

Tell us your wildest gig as to date.
I’d have to say when I DJ’d Paris Hilton’s bday party at The Rehab Pool Party inside The Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas.It was my first ever massive pool party gig in Vegas. She was climbing the light truss, dancing on tables, bringing shots into the DJ booth. Plus it’s Vegas, in the summer, so I’m sure you know how crazy things get.

Favorite post-gig meal?
Breakfast! Most nights after a gig, my other DJ friends and I meet up at Pinecrest or Grubstake and I’m always ordering off the breakfast menu.

You’ll be DJing this Saturday with some fellow DJ friends J. Espinosa and Panic City to celebrate DJ Claksaarb’s birthday. What’s the best part of doing so?
What I enjoy most is being able to hang out with them in the same setting while we’re working. Normally we all are individually booked so we don’t get to see each other unless it’s the “post-gig meal.” Some of my most memorable moments are when I get the chance to DJ alongside my friends on the same night. I think it creates a better energy too. We’re having more fun; the crowd sees it and feeds off that energy.

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