Where:The Works, Detroit
When: 10 p.m. Sept. 16 and 28
DJ VanCronkhite's punk days exploring the underground club culture inspired his venture from real estate agent to deejay club king. Not that original, right? Well, VanCronkhite was only 15.
"That was a long time ago," laughs VanCronkhite, who's 35 now. "We had fake IDs back in the day. The people that I ran with were kind of punks and club kids, just every kind of character you can imagine."
Up until his mid-20s, VanCronkhite (real name: David Junior in honor of his father) basked in the club scene until he settled on a career as a successful real estate agent, pulling in 13-hour days all week.
"I gave it all up. It was one of those things where you kind of have to (live) the American Dream," he says. "I was in that mentality that your passion and creative stuff is not what you make a living with."
But, as he began buying disc jockey equipment to DJ as a hobby, his career turned out to be temporary – and he hasn't looked back since.
One day he asked himself a question: "What if this never goes anywhere, if I make no money … would I do anything different?
"I was like, 'No, this is it,'" he says, laughing about now being able to grab coffee in the morning. "It's a life style that I'm in love with."
When VanCronkhite spins on Sept. 16 and 28 at The Works in Detroit, the crowd won't be bouncing to many mainstream mixes, but rather his blend of progressive-twisted tribal beats, tech-infused house and hard hitting samples. He does, though, have a soft spot for a DJ Paulo remix of Christina Aguilera's "Ain't No Other Man."
"Oh God, it sends me through the roof every time I hear it," he says. "It's just fluid. You don't know which is better: the music or the vocal."
With recognition from several publications in Atlanta, VanCronkhite's hometown, he's hitting the road this month to spread his signature sound.
"There's so many people who wanna do this," VanCronkhite says. "I don't take the successes that come my way lightly. There's a million people out there doing the same thing but it's about pounding the pavement and doing it nonstop."
Those who approach VanCronkhite in clubs, as he travels the United States, don't faze him. Does he get hit on often?
He shyly says, "Yeah … but I say that modestly."
From his tough-looking exterior – tattoos blanketing his arms and a badass grin – VanCronkhite might not appear to be a hopeless romantic. But he is.
After a 5-and-a-half year relationship ending several years ago, VanCronkhite hasn't delved into the dating scene and although he has deejay gigs to concentrate on, it's not clear whether he's interested.
He laughs, "I'm heating up right now. Is it hot in here?"