Imagine you are at a party jamming to sweet selections and you turn to look at the DJ and see a small, 13-year-old boy. That was the experience for a party-goers who attended events featuring young professional radio DJ Terrell Straker.
The Santa Cruz native learned the art from two sides of his family – his late maternal grandfather and his paternal uncle who were DJs. At age 11, he would visit his uncle and practice mixing songs.
“I saw it and I liked it. I always liked music.”
His father, Chris Straker, saw his son practising how to spin tunes. At the time, Terrell was preparing for SEA and his father made a deal that if he passed for a good school he could continue to pursue deejaying. Terrell passed for St Anthony’s College; he is currently in Form Two.
“He did well so I had to keep my promise,” Straker said.
It was his mother’s idea to enrol Terrell at a DJ school–LA Records in Port of Spain. The school’s management was surprised by someone so young but he completed the six-month basic course and did so well he was signed up for the advanced, also six months.
“I learned how to scratch, do beat matching, a little production, how to make effects (and) looping sounds,” Terrell recalled.
Through LA records, Terrell showcased his talents at Trincity Mall, Trincity and the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain. He also played at home for his family’s annual New Year’s party and received a number of surprised but positive comments.
“People used to realise (it is me deejaying) and say ‘this youth man playing really good'. I would feel good and it would make me push to do better.”
He chose the name Selecta Stukie because he was a big fan of the Jamaican dancehall song, Stukie, and his relatives would call him that. His first official gig was in May last year for a party at Sforzata Pan Yard in Curepe. Terrell recalled being nervous before he played but he got over it.
“When I came off people told me I played really well and to keep doing it.”
Terrell was also the DJ for relatives’ weddings, boat ride parties and house parties. For different events, he would have to play different types of music, and would prepare his play list before going out to deejay.
“And I like to satisfy the whole crowd. That is my aim when I go out to play.”
He said it was not difficult to please young party-goers but liked the challenge of a more mature crowd. Some of the older patrons would ask him questions like “What you know about this kind of music?”
Personally, Terrell likes soca and his favourite singer is Voice (Aaron St Louis).
Through his work with older DJs and posting videos on social media, Terrell was invited to interview with Boom Champions 94.1FM in January. He was successful and secured a spot every Friday from 6 pm to 9 pm.
It was Terrell’s dream to be on radio and he enjoyed the challenge of building a vibes with no one present. He also received advice from DJs and would go home and practice to become better. His school friends would constantly ask him to “big them up” while he was on the radio. He does school work during the week and on the weekends he practices about two hours a day.
Terrell said it feels good to be one of the country’s youngest DJs and recalled his elders would tell him, “You making me feel shame” because of he had more skills than them. He plans to continue as a DJ when he gets older but his dream job is to become a pilot. He said many young people send him messages asking how they can become a DJ too.
“I tell them keep doing what you doing and put education first.”