If you’re involved in the Ottawa nightclub scene, chances are you’re familiar with DJ TDot. From an Alberta-born kid with a family legacy of music to an internationally known mix-maker, DJ TDot is a force to be reckoned with in the Canadian music world. His story is about more than just the music though. With a natural eye for business, TDot balances his passion for DJing with his full time work owning three nightclub venues across Ottawa. With the goal in mind of creating an environment where he could have full creative and artistic control of his sets, venue ownership was a natural progression in his career––and came with hard work and a determined mindset.
Together with his peers in the Ottawa entertainment industry, DJ TDot co-founded the Breakout Squad in 2012; a party/entertainment group that utilizes the collective power of some of Ottawa’s best musicians and events specialists to enhance brand experience through music. Parties are their business––and since the reopening of nightclubs and bars, business is good.
With his finger on the pulse of what’s what in the music scene, big things are on the horizon for DJ TDot.
You’re originally from Calgary, Alberta. What is it that brought you to Ottawa?
Originally from Calgary, but my family moved to Ottawa when I was really young. A lot of my family migrated from the Caribbean, and most of them migrated to Ottawa after my grandma brought all her siblings up one by one. So Ottawa became home.
You started developing your craft at just 13 years old. What and who inspired you to become a DJ?
My father was a DJ and my godfather was a DJ. Music was the only thing when I was younger that could put me to sleep. I was always drawn to all types of music so I started throwing parties at 13 years old and eventually started traveling to DJ around the world.
How did you turn your hobby into a career?
I’ve been DJing in clubs all over the world, and I was always interested in the business side of things. The music goes hand in hand with the venue––and overall reputation of any venue. So I always wanted to own my own venue so I had a part in the full experience. Which led to me opening 3 venues in Ottawa.
Can you tell us more about the Breakout Squad?
Breakout squad was an idea I had with some DJs. We wanted to support each other and involve each other in everything. We wanted to be able to be self-sufficient and run events top to bottom without having to ask anyone for any help. Then we grew to more than DJs; we added event organizers, marketing specialists, photographers, and videographers. It started with opening up PPL nightclub which was open for 6 years. Then we opened Room 104 and the Hudson. We most recently opened Hyde & Seek nightclub right before the pandemic.
As a DJ known for their versatility, what is the strangest mash-up you’ve made work?
The strangest mashup I have ever done is hard to say because you can make so much work with creativity. I’ve done some weird parties where I have had to do a lot based on what everyone wants to hear––from hip hop, to country, to 70’s––but it’s all possible with the right ear for music. The only one that stands out to me was when I did a mix of the childhood nursery rhyme “rain rain go away” and mix that into Bad & Boujee “Raindrops Drop Top” if you heard the mix it was so out there that you had to go nuts.
What does your uniform look like when you’re on and off duty?
Honestly I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to a uniform. It depends on the setting I’m in. Sometimes if I’m getting dressed up, my fedoras have to come out! I like to collect all different colors. My hat collection is pretty dope. My off-duty outfit is basketball shorts or sweatpants, and a hoodie! The outfit has to be finished with a pair of jays (Jordan’s)––more recently maybe some Yeezys. I like to collect kicks as well.
Did you consider any other names before DJ TDot?
When it came to my name I didn’t really have a choice. A friend gave me the nickname pretty early on and it just stuck, so when I really started taking it seriously, I said it’s probably easier to go by what I’m already known as rather than change it. So Dj TDot stuck.
Where do you go on a night out in Ottawa when you’re not working?
I wish I got the chance to go out, I never have a weekend or day off. The pandemic was the first time I got Friday & Saturday off. When I do for the odd reason have a weekend off I’m probably catching up on sleep somewhere.
What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a DJ?
Do it! Not even to try and become the best in the world. The simple joy it brings playing music, manipulating sounds and just mixing is so soothing to the mind. Anytime I’m ever in a bad mood I can go to my studio and DJ for a few minutes and I’m instantly stress relieved.
What are you currently working on? Where can people see you DJ live in Ottawa this summer?
You can catch me weekly Wednesday at Room 104, Thursday at Casino Lac Leamy, and Saturday and Sunday Night at Hyde & Seek Nightclub. The family-friendly events I will be at are Hope Beach SummerFest & all home games for the Ottawa Blackjacks. I’m always working on something in the background. For the past 10 years I’ve been trying to change the nightlife industry in Ottawa from what it once was to what I have in my mind. With God and the team I’m surrounded by, Ottawa is in good hands.
Photography by Sean Sisk