Following the same path most of his life, Carson Albright, an up-and-coming DJ called “All Bright” from Columbus, Ohio, talks through his process of realization. A junior zoology major at The Ohio State University, Albright wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as he could remember until six months ago when he recognized a lack of personal fulfillment in the work. Now, after finding his passion for DJing, Albright plans to change his major to psychology, so he can better understand and connect with future audiences.
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You mentioned that you’re not going to vet school anymore. Can you take us through that process and where you’re going now?
To be honest, [being a vet] was something I think I told myself for a really long time that I wanted to do when I really didn’t. There was just a lot to it. It felt unique because I’ve always wanted to do something that’s different and contribute to society. I liked that, and in all honesty, I liked being able to tell people I was a zoology major ‘cause it sounded cool, and of course as most people do, I love animals. So I did love those aspects of it, but I worked at a kennel for two and a half years and spent all my days trying to convince myself ‘oh I love this, this is what I’m going to do, this is it.’ I finally came to the realization last summer that [being a vet] is not who I really am.
Would you consider yourself a natural performer? Have you ever been involved in any theater or productions when you were younger?
My mom and my older brother have always been passionate about music. Since I was two or three years old, I vividly remember going to see my mom and brother perform in our community theater. My brother joined the show choir in middle school, and he stuck with that going into high school… I kind of just followed his path. I dabbled in some other things and realized I really wanted to get on a stage and perform in a way that was personal… When I got out of high school, the first thing I missed was being able to perform… That was the bottom line. I love that fact that [with] DJing you can be creative, you can add your own touches. I get that most DJs don’t play their own original music, but you can still incorporate things that you love, make your sets be able to tell stories.
Can you paint a picture of how you prepare both technically and mentally knowing that you’ll be in front of a group of people?
One thing that I think most people don’t really get about DJs is how much behind the scenes work goes on. I guess it depends a lot on the performer, but I spend hours in my room sifting through music, finding things that I really like and would love to be able to play in front of a group of people… Most of the time I try not to like, plan out that I’ll do this song and then I’ll transition into [another] song this way. I like to keep it fluid… not fluid, but like improvise sort of. I like to do it on the spot because that makes things so much more fun for myself, and it can really make things a lot more natural for the audience too. It’s really not something you ever want to over-manufacture, so I would say I do a lot of preparation in terms of gathering the music that I want to play and being able to understand the structure of the songs…but there’s not much of like [what] you would see [of] a touring artist preparing a set list.
Do you think your audience, like who they are, how many people, impacts what you’re going to play? Do you feed off of them?
Oh absolutely. A lot of the task of a DJ, a lot of the challenge, is being able to read a crowd, and that might be one of the hardest things, but it’s also one of the coolest things… That’s part of the reason why I can’t plan sets out completely, because if it’s not gonna work then it’s not gonna work, and you have to be able to improvise and adapt. It varies a lot depending on the place, if I’m opening for somebody, like who the artist is that I’m opening for, and just who the people are. You as a DJ, your obligation is to play for the people and really give them a good experience.
On your Soundcloud, right above your Instagram handle you have ‘Hear in Color.’ Can you talk about what that means to you?
So I have chromesthesia, which is like the music form of synesthesia, where sounds come across as colors. One thing I play on as a DJ all the time is the colors [that] songs come off as to me. I want to be able to paint that picture for my audience… I think one of the main reasons why I’m so passionate about music is because of that, and I think it’s like the most beautiful thing to me when I’m able to hear a song and feel like that’s the most beautiful pattern of colors… I’ve ever heard. I wanna find a way to show other people what I get to experience. I’m so lucky to be able to experience something like that, and it would mean the world to me if I could actually show that to other people.
Is DJing now your full-time thing? How do you navigate school around it?
In all honesty, it doesn’t really take up much of my work time because of how much I love it…one thing that’s really cool about DJing is [that] it’s mostly a weekend night time thing, so I can do my own work in the day, and then I get to have my play time when it’s time to DJ or whatever. I would love if it became like a job, like a consistent job, but right now clearly there’s not consistency. It’s hard to get that kind of consistency in music, so I’m still taking school just as seriously as I did before. And that’s the ultimate plan of like, I know I should probably have a serious direction in my life, but if I have even a glimpse of hope that this could take off as a full-time thing, I’ll drop anything for it.
Why psychology? Do you want to be able to connect with your audience more? How did you pick that over zoology?
I’ve always been a huge proponent of mental health, and I love picking people’s brains and getting to know them. That’s one of my absolute favorite things: being able to really connect with someone deep and understanding them… I love the human brain, so I would love to be a psychiatrist if music doesn’t work out. I do have to get over the hump of telling myself to go to med school for four years and learn about everything but psychology, but I just love dealing with people, and I think that’s part of why I wanted to be in the vet field to begin with. Even in music, you deal with so many people. I swear the majority of being able to succeed in music is knowing people, and being able to get to know people has been one of my favorite parts about it so far. Understanding the human mind, really getting to know people, stood out to me, and I think I’ve been passionate about it for really long. I just never thought it could be my life.
You touched on it a little bit, but do you see any other ties or connections between psychology and DJing?
I think that being able to read people is potentially the biggest thing in both of those fields. [In] DJing you have to understand how to read your crowd, you have to know how to appeal to them, because basically your point of being there is to give people a good time. You have to be able to look at your crowd and understand them without having spoken a word to them or even knowing their name.
Do you have any sort of mentor as a DJ? Has there been anyone who has taught you along the way, or are you sort of learning as you go?
The way I normally am in life, I love leaning on people, but this has been – I think – the first thing in my life that has really taught me how to blaze my own trail… My cousin, who is one of my closest friends, got me started on everything, and he really is the reason I got into DJing, but once I started really taking it seriously, I… took off and realized that I had to pioneer my own path.
In the DJing community are people willing to share their experiences and what they’ve learned, or is it something you have to seek out yourself?
I don’t think I’ve ever met a community that’s more welcoming. Like everyone in the DJ world wants to elevate each other, and it’s the coolest thing I think I’ve ever been able to be part of because there’s just such an amazing energy around… There’s always somebody that wants to help you.
What would you say has been the most influential moment in your DJing career so far?
So I really didn’t take DJing seriously until like sixish months ago, probably around July or August… I would say the thing that really showed me I want to get after it was my first performance at a club called Dahlia. I got put on by the manager who knew nothing about me really. I just sat down with him at a restaurant for like 15, 20 minutes and he asked about my experience… He put me on to a couple shows right off the bat. At my first set ever – it was like an opening set at 9:00 p.m. where normally nobody is there… almost just like a standby thing to test me out – I promoted the whole thing with my fraternity and some friends… 80 of my close friends came out and just packed the place. I don’t think I have ever had more fun with DJing until that point, and I realized that this is what I would love to do. This being the smallest scale, and I already feel like… special in a way. That night really showed me this is what we really gotta go after. I would regret it forever if I didn’t give it my all.
I feel like you’re sort of on the cusp of like, breaking out of this path that you were following for so long. Where do you see yourself going from here, both in the near future and more long term?
Of course, the ideal vision for any DJ, musician, performer, artist of any kind is playing what I guess people call the big stage, just being able to perform in front of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people doing what you love and showing them your art… I’ve tried not to let myself see a vision for the future; it’s about what I want to do next, and I’m always thinking I want to seize whatever opportunity I have coming. I need to figure out how to climb that ladder and keep moving up in the world because I tend to get myself overwhelmed if I think ‘oh I need to accomplish this’ and – if like two days have gone by and I haven’t accomplished it – it really starts to get at me. So, I just like looking at exactly what’s ahead.
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Gabi Morando is a sophomore journalism and strategic communication double major at Butler University. A former ballerina, Gabi enjoys being able to tell stories in a new way – using words rather than movement. As part of The University Journal, she hopes to give people a platform to share their stories and views on the world.