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From DJ to Def Jam

Elie Lamazerolles, AMD’15, has music in his blood. Back in his home country of Belgium, his grandfather was a jazz and blues radio host, a music lover with more than 500 records in his collection.

“As a child, I would go to my grandparents’ and just listen to vinyl’s,” recalled Lamazerolles. “Jazz is a great foundation and start in music.”

At 13, he decided to invest in turntables and experiment with DJing. Within two years, he had honed his skills so well that he was playing at parties and clubs every weekend.

Lamazerolles has continued to pursue this passion at Northeastern, where he is currently a third-year music industry major with a concentration in music recording. He is also a Husky Ambassador, executive vice president for the Council for University Programs, and host of a two-hour long DJ set on WRBB radio, a nonprofit, free-form station run by students.

Last semester, he worked in the Artist and Repertoire department at Island Def Jam Music Group, part of the Universal Music Group, in New York City. The Island Def Jam Music Group was formed in 1999, when UMG merged Island Records and Def Jam Recordings.

He had two primary jobs. The first was conducting research and combing through sales and airplay statistics in a score of countries. The second was working under Island Records President David Massey to help his assistant with a variety of tasks for the record head. These responsibilities granted him an inside look into the division responsible for talent scouting and overseeing the development of recording artists.

“Working as a DJ across Europe for eight years has taught me about the performance side of the industry, but this co-op exposed me to a whole other side that I wasn’t aware of,” he said. “It really inspired me.”

Lamazerolles got practical experience in the music industry through working as a DJ and his program at Northeastern was instrumental to his understanding of the business side of the industry. In his first year at Northeastern, he took classes in which he learned the basics of how the music industry functions. Those courses prepared him well for his co-op at Island Def Jam.

“When I started at the department, there was a lot that I already knew and understood, which allowed me to dive into my work as quickly as possible,” he explained.

Becoming immersed in the job so quickly, he said, allowed him to get the most out of the experience, which also solidified his desire to work on the A&R side of the music industry after graduation.

Lamazerolles credited his Northeastern classroom experiences for teaching him about subjects that he encountered firsthand on co-op. “At my co-op, I was able to apply these skills and continue to build my knowledge through experiential education,” he said.