Student builds on classical background to become DJ

Dallas senior Daniel Nzeaker plays the piano in the Student Union Building. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By JP Graham | Reporter

When it comes to enjoying the weekend, the importance of a good playlist parallels the importance of good company. DJs face this task every night as they try to balance the requests and opinions of diverse crowds. Dallas senior Daniel Nzeakor sought this challenge with little to no prior experience under his belt.

Nzeakor has been creating music since he was in middle school. Nzeakor picked up the double bass and began to write his own music shortly after.

Nzeakor’s promising orchestral career was cut short in sixth grade when he left his double bass leaning against the wall in his room. Footsteps on the nearby stairs shook the wall, knocking his instrument over and breaking its neck. The loss kept Nzeakor from playing an instrument for four years, despite his talent.

Nzeakor eventually attended boarding school at North Central Texas Academy and picked up the electric bass, but the piano quickly became his primary focus. He spent months trying to learn “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns N’ Roses. He said its difficulty discouraged him but that his persistence soon paid off.

“I wouldn’t talk to my teacher unless she was talking about the bass,” Nzeakor said. “One day, I sat at the piano in my residence hall and played the intro. I ran to school the next day and showed my teacher, and after that, I wanted to play piano all day, every day.”

For Nzeakor, learning to play the piano opened the door to being a DJ. One night while studying in Moody Memorial Library during the second semester of his sophomore year, Nzeakor wandered to the music library on the third floor and found tiny pianos set at each computer.

Excited about this new discovery, Nzeakor quickly got to work experimenting and teaching himself how to use Garage Band. The following summer, Nzeakor spent three weeks creating music, working for 14 hours each day. He now owns his own equipment and is able to work from home, making higher quality sound at a faster rate.

Waco junior Malik Simon lived in Allen Residence Hall with Nzeakor the following semester. Nzeakor’s music often caught Simon’s attention as he passed by Nzeakor’s room. The two soon began to bounce ideas off of one another.

Because of Nzeakor’s responsibilities as a mentor in Baylor’s Leadership Living-Learning Center that year, he said the difficulty of finding time to collaborate taught him how to make effective use of his time. Simon said he was impressed by Nzeakor’s overall work ethic.

“Daniel’s time management is the best thing about him,” Simon said. “At first, he had trouble collaborating with artists because of schedules or availability.” In the end, Simon said, “It’s made him even more efficient.”

In December 2017, Nzeakor spoke to the manager of local bar Scruffy Murphy’s about being a DJ the following semester. He was offered the job, and Nzeakor returned from winter break one day early to purchase a sound board and begin practicing for his first show, which was Jan. 10. The performance was a success, and Nzeakor was offered to play twice each month as a regular.

As a DJ, artist and producer, Nzeakor said he has appreciated this opportunity because he uses the crowd’s reactions as motivation to continue making music.

“It’s like being a high school basketball player and working part-time for an NBA team,” Nzeakor said. “You see at the professional level what the goal is … and I see what gets people moving, so it’s like, what can I do to get myself to their level?”

Nzeakor’s music is available on Apple Music under his alias Waviaveli. He will DJ from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday at Scruffy Murphy’s.