By Wendy Allen
For NM State Media Relations
LAS CRUCE, N.M. (Oct. 15, 2012) - From throwing curveballs on the field to throwing down beats for packed clubs, the transition from baseball player to disc jockey is not easy but as former New Mexico State pitcher Joseph Hampel can show it is possible.
Hampel, also known as DJ Dainjazone and temporary DJ for the world-famous group LMFAO, came to a point in his life where he had to make a decision. After being cut at tryouts for an independent baseball team in California, the 26 year-old knew that if he wanted to be successful, he would have to choose between baseball and the music industry. "It hurt to walk away from baseball. It's my first time ever doing that. It was like the break-up with the ultimate girlfriend," Hampel said.
From the time he started tee-ball, Hampel thought baseball was it and had dreams of becoming a star. He played for John H. Francis Polytechnic High School in Los Angeles and attended Glendale Community College until NM State he was picked up after his sophomore year. It was in Las Cruces he found he liked DJ.
Hampel received a partial scholarship from NM State to pitch for the 2004-05 season. He started in several games, was often a relief pitcher for the Aggies and had the fourth-lowest ERA on the team his junior year.
During his second year at NM State, Hampel picked up some records and began to spin for student-athletes' get-togethers and at Hurricane Alley on Saturday nights. He began calling himself DJ Dainjazone, in reference to Big L's song by the same name, and it stuck.
After Hampel graduated from NM State in 2006 with a bachelor's degree in communications and a minor in management, he returned to Los Angeles still hoping to pursue baseball. In a twist of fate, he chose to DJ instead which launched his life in an entirely different direction.
Back in LA, Hampel began playing private events for Universal Studios and house parties in Hollywood, where he tried to network extensively.
Eventually, he signed with Moodswing360, a DJ agency, but left after a year because he wasn't getting many gigs. It was during this time that he contacted a good friend, the music director at the Palms in Las Vegas, and begun his residency there.
After his contract ended with the agency, gigs started flowing in. Hampel found himself all over the country including Atlanta and San Diego. He even met up with Ian Fletcher, the manager of LMFAO, at the Winter Music Conference in Miami, after he contacted a friend from high school.
LMFAO's manager saw potential in Hampel and helped him get a spot with the Party Rock Crew. When LMFAO's DJ, DJ Air, broke his leg in April 2012, Hampel was asked to step in as the temporary DJ.
For the past four months, Hampel has been touring around Europe and North America with LMFAO, in front of crowds up to 100,000 people, performing at festivals, clubs and even on Good Morning America.
"That [Good Morning America] was actually more for my mom. That brought tears to her eyes, to see me on that stage, doing that," he said.
Since then, it has been non-stop for Hampel who had only three days off within a seven-week period. He said that at times living by such stringent schedule is exhausting and overwhelming, but he enjoys it.
Amidst all this, baseball seems like a thing of the past, but it actually helped prepare Hampel for where he is today.
To Hampel, baseball was one of the biggest mental challenges teaching him about hard work and focus. As a DJ, Hampel tries to represent himself with integrity, morals and good business ethics while refusing to do negative things in an attempt to make extra money.
Looking back on it, Hampel said he realizes now that some of the clashes he had with coaches taught him not to let his ego get the best of him, which in turn helped him to grow into a better DJ.
"I realized it's not the coaches fault, it was me. And so, I didn't want that to get to me, the ego part," he said. "I can show confidence and express confidence, but I didn't want to be arrogant about what I'm doing."
In a way, baseball prepared him for the life of travel as a DJ. Although college baseball does not have as intense travel schedules, he still had experience with early flights and constant travel.
Playing for NM State also helped Hampel learn to establish connections and get along with all different types of people. This, in turn, helped him network as a DJ.
Music and baseball also afforded Hampel many incredible opportunities. As a pitcher, he threw well against good teams in including Arizona State and South Alabama, where he threw 127 pitches, seven strikeouts and four earned runs. Another career highlight for Hampel was that Dustin Pedroia, now the second baseman for the Boston Red Soxs, went 0-2 off of him.
As a DJ, he has spun at several very popular clubs in Las Vegas including Lavo, Tao, Marquee and the Palms, played for his hometown at the Staples Center and traveled around the world. He also opened and closed for LMFAO at Rain in Las Vegas on New Years Day, where the dance floor and club were packed.
Hampel has learned how to read a crowd and realizes that it is important for a crowd to trust him before he gives them a piece of who he is through music. He allows his passion and dedication to come through in his music so that he doesn't sound like every other DJ.
"To me, it's bigger than music. It's something bigger than doing the biggest clubs in the world and when you involve art, people get to look at it differently," Hampel said. "It's not just music. There's more to it."
Though he misses the challenge of baseball and the competition, Hampel still stays in contact with some NM State students and faculty. Recently head coach Rocky Ward reached out to him to congratulate him on his success as a DJ, and he has also stayed in contact with former assistant coach Mike Pietrack.
Hampel has also seen or spoken to multiple alumni within the NM State community, some of which are former NM State student athletes including Mark Aranda (baseball), Joey Vincent (football and baseball), Sarah (Silagy) Ochoa, Jordan (Bostic) Grantham and Jackie (Choi) Parker (volleyball players).
In the next few years, Hampel is interested in modeling and acting. He is currently with a high-end talent agency, but loves to DJ and is so busy that it takes priority over those ambitions.
Hampel still holds NM State close to his heart and encourages students to follow their dreams by doing anything to make them happen and having faith in themselves, their ideas and their imagination.