Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Sean McMillan

Before I even photograph Sean McMillan, an SEO expert and DJ who I have had the pleasure of calling my friend for about 10 years, we sit at his kitchen table debating the existence of sneaker culture (he thinks there’s not one). There’s a box of sneakers in his living room which he’s looking to sell on eBay. There can’t be a culture in the sociological sense of the word simply based around buying stuff, he says. That’s just capitalism.

Sean is a wise, patient intellectual with a mind for business. He produced an XXL Banger and deejayed all the time while still in college. He also became a Reebok Brand Ambassador, the owner of his own DJ empire (where he performed with the likes of Wiz Khalifa, Wale, Mac Miller and DJ Jazzy Jeff), and a Product Line Manager at And1, where he designed several pairs of sneakers that were sold across the country. Preferring to go into business for himself, he then built a business as an SEO specialist, though he is also now a resident at digital marketing agency VaynerMedia working with entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. And deejaying on the side. He's a powerful, entrepreneurial force of nature.

Tonight, Sean is spinning (as Sean Mc) at The Corners in Brooklyn. First, though, we grab a bite to eat. Sean selects Ma-N-Pop, a southern restaurant not too far from his home. We choose baked chicken with greens and mac ’n cheese (he) and turkey wings with corn and green beans (me) and get the deliciously buttery-smelling treats to go. There’s been a request tonight for some Soca music and Sean has to do some research about the genre so he can incorporate it into his set—he’s known for his love of 2000s B-sides, but plays all sorts of music.

“Did you know ‘Who Let The Dogs Out?’ is a Soca song?” he says to me of the viral, summer of 2000 Baha Men anthem after a few minutes of research. “I’m definitely not playing that tonight, though,” he laughs.

Later, Sean does a costume change then packs up his turntable and mixer into their chrome and black cases. A car picks us up and takes us to the venue, where Sean begins setting up his equipment. His turntable syncs to the music on his computer so he doesn’t have to carry around heaps of records like back in the day but can still scratch and mix them as if he did. He puts his headphones on—earbuds as opposed to the typical massive DJ headset “because I’m a contrarian,” he says—and soon music flows out of the speakers. Future and Santigold and Bruno Mars one right after the other, Sean’s fingers moving in a dance-like succession, twisting vinyl and pulling levers and pressing buttons to blend others’ music into a symphony of his own. People pulse in their seats, tapping fingers, bouncing shoulders. “It’s good to be erratic at the beginning,” Sean says, smiling. “That way nobody can pigeonhole you.”

Follow Sean on Twitter and Instagram.

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