Twenty-three-year-old Pete Brockman, aka DJ Pete Butta, moved to State College when he was in high school. Like most high school kids, he liked to play video games, but after hearing Tribe Called Quest’s “Award Tour” on his Playstation game, he realized what his calling was.
Shortly after the transformation from grunge kid to hip-hop head, Butta got into DJing and got his first stint at Camp Woodward as an in-house DJ. Despite his affinity for rap music, his repertoire features a diverse set of genres based largely on the crowd he’s spinning for.
“I look at the people on the dance floor and try to think about what they like and cater to the crowd,” he said. “I like to read their minds so they can have a good time. I look at what they’re wearing, how they’re dancing ... like if there’s a bachelorette party, they usually want to hear Beyonce’s ‘Single Ladies.’ ”
But there’s more to Butta’s resume than downtown bars and receptions. He has taken his tables all over the state. His goal is to take his show to bigger markets such as New York City and Las Vegas.
He credits DJs on New York’s famed radio station Hot 97 for inspiring him to start scratching the vinyl. After purchasing his first turntable, he began networking with other local DJs and began his journey toward DJ stardom.
“There’s something to be said for taking a city’s music into your hand and being the selector of what records are popular,” he said.
Butta has taken on all aspects of the DJ craft, from the live experience to the radio. In 2006, he took top prize at the “Battle of the Beats” DJ competition held at Player’s Night Club, now Indigo, in State College. His last victory was a DJ competition in Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Center, which awarded him an opportunity to open for Hot 97’s DJ Sights and Sounds.
Butta is tackling an industry that has rapidly changed in his lifetime from trading mix tapes on the street to downloading tunes on the Internet. It’s a challenge that puts greater emphasis on the live show and the ability to put together something memorable for people on the dance floor.
“It’s changed phenomenally, straight up 180 degrees,” he said. “It used to be how many CDs you could get into so many stores. It was a chance to get introduced to many artists and people would notice. Now you get noticed through parties, festivals and shows ... through the radio and other means.”
After releasing mix CDs featuring house and techno music, he recently released “Rollin’ ” a compilation of head-bobbing hip-hop along with Butta’s trademark scratches and mixes.
“I am focused on the live show and the experience people have when I play in the club,” Butta said. And when they leave, “I want to leave them hungry for more.”
DJ Pete Butta spins at 10 p.m. Saturdays at Lion’s Den, 118 S. Garner St., State College. Visit http://petebutta.com for more information.