Student DJs find their rhythm in SU’s Greek life

Student DJs find their rhythm in SU’s Greek life

Mathieu Barthelemy, Pedro de Paulo and Eric Ticse are kickstarting their careers and honing in on their craft within fraternities.

Eric Ticse, Pedro de Paulo and Mathieu Barthelemy DJing in a collage
Noah Rosenblatt
Clockwise from top left: Pedro de Paulo, Eric Ticse and Mathieu Barthelemy during their DJ performances.

In the heart of Syracuse University’s bustling campus, student DJs are providing beats that pulsate through every corner of student life.

Mathieu Barthelemy, Pedro de Paulo and Eric Ticse are among the DJs orchestrating the rhythms that are elevating events and transforming ordinary moments into unforgettable experiences.

Emerging from the Greek houses along Walnut Park, the trio have become the current architects behind the scenes shaping the vibrant musical landscape of SU’s community. They’re turning their passion for music into an art form, bringing unmatched energy to university parties and local venues alike.

Amidst the demands of academic life, these DJs provide melodies that resonate both within the confines of campus and across the Syracuse community, and are seemingly on their way toward leaving a permanent mark on the local music scene.

Pedro de Paulo

Pedro de Paulo Djing at Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
Pedro de Paulo DJing at Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

In the admittedly saturated world of college DJing, Pedro de Paulo is finding a way to carve out his unique niche. With an infectious enthusiasm for music and an unexpected start in the underground music scene, de Paulo has become a prominent figure in the Syracuse student DJ community.

The 21-year-old sports management and economics dual major from São Paulo said he was envisioning himself as a frat DJ even before joining a fraternity. As he rushed his current fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon, he confidently claimed to be a DJ –without actually having mastered the craft.

Despite having no musical background, de Paulo’s love for music and curating playlists led him to experiment with DJing. His first impromptu performance at the fraternity was a trial by fire, but the audience’s joy fueled his passion. He realized the power he held to create memorable moments through music.

“When I saw people have fun, I thought, OK, I must be doing something right,” de Paulo said. “It just gave me a really great feeling.”

For de Paulo, the essence of DJing lies in the symbiotic relationship between the crowd and the performer. He feeds off the audience’s energy, adjusting his playlist dynamically to match the atmosphere. Pedro says that seeing the crowds enjoyment is the driving force behind his performances.

“Every single night is different,” de Paulo said. “I don’t preconceive anything. Ever.”

His musical journey extends beyond DJing, and de Paulo has found a new passion as a rising music producer. The desire to play his original tracks motivated him to experiment with production. While starting by creating rap beats for a friend’s song lyrics, he now has began to make music out of his own piano chords and voice.

“I think the coolest thing ever would be to play my original music someday,” de Paulo said. 

The Syracuse music scene, though diverse, is tight-knit and has provided de Paulo with several opportunities. His first paid gig at the Gilded Club was arranged through fraternity connections, and marked the beginning of a series of performances and collaborations. He emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities and building a diverse portfolio, a strategy that is undoubtedly contributing to his growing success.

“I tried to take as many opportunities as possible,” de Paulo said. “And then other gigs started showing up over time.”

Gianluca Perrone, a close friend and fellow fraternity DJ, said de Paulo is serving as a role model for himself and others who are considering getting into the field. 

“I never saw DJing as a hobby I could pick up,” Perrone said. “After teaching me everything I know, our friendly competition has become a great incentive to help me improve.”

While de Paulo is open to a diverse range of prospective careers, he acknowledges the challenges of pursuing a career solely focusing on music. As he approaches graduation in May, de Paulo dreams of a job that would allow him to come home every day and focus on producing music wholeheartedly.

Eric Tisce

Eric Ticse Zoomed in Picture
Eric Ticse DJing at 1ST GEN: Open Air The White Party.

Better known under the pseudonym “Eric Eric,” SU student Eric Ticse said he started DJing on a whim in 2022 for his fraternity, Theta Chi. While it was something he’d never done before, Ticse was enthralled by the pressure of being thrown into the middle of a party. Ticse immediately fell in love with the craft and found his potential within music.

A junior in Newhouse School’s Bandier program, Ticse said his passion for music stems from various aspects of his life. 

“Music has always been my way of understanding all the ideas and feelings I couldn’t quite put into words,” Ticse said.

His first gig took place in New York City’s Lower East Side in the summer of 2022, when he was hired to play at a birthday party. The private event quickly escalated into a public blowout with more than 200 people in attendance.

From then on, his trajectory as a DJ has been ever-growing. Ticse said that the more he performs and practices, the more he realizes DJing extends far beyond a hobby. Today, Ticse sees DJing as a form of storytelling with a clear beginning, middle, and end that coordinates with the party’s timeline.

“I want to have the emotional intuition of knowing what the crowd is feeling,” Ticse said. “I want to be able to communicate that through my sets.”

Ticse started DJing because it gave him purpose within his community at SU. He thought that if he could get good at DJing, he could help others have a more fun experience when they went out. Today he still finds pleasure and fulfillment in performing for others, but now also uses his craft as a vehicle to ground himself and his thoughts. 

“It has helped me alleviate anxieties and negative emotions,” Ticse said. “Now, it’s about finding the happy medium between playing for myself and for others.”

Last October, Ticse, along with friends Jr Miller and Zach Zabriskie, launched Scratch –a production company that plans to host events, fashion collections, music and media. Ticse said the idea for the business has taken many forms since the beginning of the year, but started really gaining momentum throughout this past summer, when Ticse and Miller used the months away from classes to really flesh out the company’s vision.

Both Ticse and Miller were inspired by the hip-hop of the early 2010s, music they loved listening to growing up. After some research they soon discovered an entire world behind their favorite songs and artists, transforming their understanding of hip-hop and the dance music genre. 

Ticse said building the company entailed hours of conversation, and he and Miller met up daily in coffee shops, parks, and beaches in their central New Jersey hometown to brainstorm ideas. Ticse also actively discussed his vision with his summer internship manager Pablo Max Smith, and cousin Matthew Deutchman, who graduated from Newhouse’s Bandier program in 2012 and now works in the music industry. 

The two pitched Scratch to Zabriskie, a graphic design major who used his knowledge and skills to help with the creative direction and development of graphic assets. 

“I knew I wanted to help, but had no idea how the music business worked,” Zabriskie said. “That’s when I realized I could be useful in other ways.”  

Scratch’s first event took place on Oct. 13 and had a positive turnout of both friends and passersby. 

“I was surprised by how many people showed up,” Miller said. “We spent the week gluing posters all over campus, so I guess that worked.”

Ticse said Scratch has brought out a more entrepreneurial side of him. He found himself thinking about brand development, advertising, and growth strategies, areas he was not exploring previously but is now passionate about.

Scratch’s goal is to eventually reach an entire generation of high school and college students, and help them fall in love with the genre.

“These people will mature into the next generation of DJs, artists, listeners, and appreciators of dance music,” Ticse said. 

Moving forward, Scratch founders are eager to continue to build their business into success. “We are truly just getting started,” said Ticse. “Right now, our most important goal is to build a team that trusts each other and shares the same passion.”

Mathieu Barthelemy

Mathieu Barthelemy djing back of head
Mathieu Barthelemy DJing at Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity.

Mathieu Barthelemy has always had a knack for music. He was learning to play the piano as early as four years old, classically training until he was twelve and playing improvisational from then on. Barthelemy knew there was an advantage in understanding chord progressions and music structure, and decided to put his skills to use through DJing and music production. 

The biomedical engineering senior from San Diego was first introduced to the world of DJing through a friend of his mother’s who is in the profession. He started to gain skills and knowledge from YouTube, eventually deciding to buy his own board. While he dabbled all throughout high school, Barthelemy said he really began his DJ career during his freshmen year of college, driven by an unexpected need within his fraternity, Delta Kappa Epsilon.

While feeling completely out of his comfort zone, he found the allure of controlling a party’s ambiance and manipulating emotions through music captivating. Barthelemy found that making others have fun became his goal as he began tailoring playlists to include a wide variety of genres. From House music to Taylor Swift and Katy Perry, he realized the importance of catering to diverse music tastes.

“I was a people pleaser when I DJed,” Barthelemy said. “Playing what everyone else liked ended up being what I enjoyed too.” 

Barthelemy’s move into events beyond his fraternity stemmed from word-of-mouth and connections within his social circle at Syracuse. As he got hired for gigs at Harry’s and Orange Crate, Barthelemy began noticing an increased demand for customized playlists, finely tuned to the venue’s unique audience.

His preparation for sets began to vary. His house playlist, amassed over three to four years, required minimal tweaking. However, he began to notice that younger crowds were wanting more control over his sets –whether it was through constant song requests or unexpected demands. Barthelemy said this posed its own challenge, and admitted it tarnished the initial thrill of DJing.

Yet, Barthelemy’s true passion lay in music production. He found himself beginning to create original tracks as a hobby –a process that demands meticulous attention to chord progressions, synthesizers, and countless hours of fine-tuning.

“Knowing music structure and chord progressions due to my piano background made getting into music production smoother,” Barthelemy said.

While his own DJ equipment has began to gather dust, Barthelemy’s focus is now shifting to mentoring aspiring DJs. He says teaching them phrasing and the intricacies of mixing has become his newfound joy. 

Lucas Rateb, a junior who took over Barthelemy’s position as DJ for their fraternity, attributes his field knowledge to hours and hours spent alongside Barthelemy in the DJ booth. 

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Mathieu,” Rateb said. “He took time out of his day to review even the most basic things with me.”

Despite the enjoyment music brought to his undergraduate years, Barthelemy feels his career aspirations in biomedical engineering hold more promise. Although not a professional pursuit, his relationship with music continues to remain a cherished hobby as he begins his final semester as an SU student.

Reflecting on his DJing days, Barthelemy acknowledges the fatigue from playing at parties and the loss of novelty that led to his retirement. Once a stage for his creativity, the DJ booth now holds a nostalgic space in his college memories.