By: Lillian Lema, Staff Writer
The k-pop scene, a genre of music that originates in South Korea, is on the rise and Hot 104.7’s DJ Jon has been riding the wave. This music genre consists of a mixture of pop, rock, hip hop, R&B and electronic sounds.
USM alumnus DJ Jon has been trying to create a community for people who like k-pop in Maine through his social media accounts, K-PopMaine, and dance events, K-Pop Dance Party.
“I see the potential in k-pop to be a huge thing here in Maine,” Jon said.
During his time at USM, Jon learned the basics of how a radio station operates through WMPG. As a communication major, he was able to take some of the lessons he learned and apply them to his career. “I learned a lot about communicating well with others verbally and also about media production at WMPG and the media studies facility, which was a new thing then,” Jon said.
While in Portland, Jon has DJed almost everywhere in the Old Port. He used to DJ at Zootz before it closed in 2001. He created 80’s Night at Bubba’s about 15 years ago, was the music director at WRED from 2001 to 2009. As well as worked at The Studio Portland, helped master and mix the New Boyz debut album. Nowadays, Jon is one of the DJs at southern Maine’s local hip hop station, Hot 104.7.
When introduced to k-pop, Jon was hooked by the sound and choreography.
Growing up, Jon was fascinated with hip hop and listened to Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, EPMD and Run DMC. He sees similarities in the beats of these two genres – hip hop and k-pop.
“I was more drawn to the hip hop and R&B sound of k-pop,” Jon said. “The music is derivative from hip hop… the musicality sounds like the hip hop and r&b that I grew up listening to in the ’80s and ’90s… whoever is producing k-pop is listening to the same stuff I was listening to… a bunch of these producers are influenced by a lot of Teddy Riley, a lot of Baby Face and a lot of classic R&B, which is all of the stuff I love.”
Back in March, Jon created his first k-pop mixtape, which he shared with friends and online at Kpopmaine.com. “I started the first mixtape and played it for people and they were like ‘this is really awesome.’ Then I put it online and it got a modest amount of listens,” Jon said. “I started to build on that. Then I created another one. Now I’m up to my 18th mixtape.”
Intrigued with the k-pop scene and its influences of old school hip hop and R&B, DJ Jon knew he had to create a place for fans to enjoy the music.
In April, Jon hosted and DJ the first-ever K-Pop Dance Party at Empire. “I was able to get 100 people to show up… they were dancing and cheering… they were loving it,” Jon said.
In the summer, the dance party moved to the Portland House of Music and took place every other Tuesday. Jon played his mixtapes and even had local dancers, Krush Dance Krew, perform.
Although summer is over and so is the K-Pop Dance Party at PHOM, it still hasn’t stopped Jon from creating more mixtapes for fans. Currently, Jon is working on his 19th k-pop mix-tape. “K-pop is like a breath of fresh air in the ominous times we live in,” Jon said.
K-popMaine and DJ Jon’s mixtapes can be found at Kpopmaine.com or on any social media platform @kpopmaine.