Updated: Sep 22, 2019
If you are a fan of DJ AM & have ever searched for clips of him on YouTube, the chances are you will immediately recognize the still image below from a clip of AM showing Shawn Schnoor (aka DJ Five-0) his famous "Wonderwall" routine. This video that Shawn posted on YouTube now has over 781,000 views and this past Saturday, May 11th, 2019 was the 10th anniversary of the event where it was recorded. Read our interview with Shawn below to learn the story behind the video, how it came to be and brand new, never before seen footage from that day.
How did you first come to hear about DJ AM?
In 2007 my wife, some friends and myself were in Las Vegas and went to Pure nightclub at Caesar's Palace. This was the first "real" nightclub that we had ever went to. During the evening, we walked into the main dance floor area and I heard music being played like I had never heard before. As we walked in, I looked up in the booth and saw a DJ AM sticker on his laptop, and realized he was the DJ. I had heard of him before, mainly because of TV and the fact he had dated Nicole Richie. This was the first time I had heard him DJ and I really loved his style. At the end of the night, we were at our table and he walked out with security, I considered getting a photo, but didn't want to bother him. That night is the reason I became a DJ.
Tell us about the event that brought you to California to film the video with him?
After our trip to Vegas I bought some turntables, began to follow his career and I became more familiar with his work. I began watching clips on YouTube to try and teach myself how to DJ. One day I purchased his power 106 mix on eBay and was looking for some other ones when I saw that MusiCares was advertising a private lesson with DJ AM. I watched it throughout the 7 day listing period, but didn't believe it was anything I would be able to win. The last day of the listing, I was watching it and no one had yet bid. I never thought my wife would go for it, but she knew it would mean a lot to me, so she agreed and I placed the unbelievably only bid, and won. The lesson was to take place in LA at AM's club, LAX on May 11th, 2009.
What was your impression of him personally when you met him?
He was one of the most talented, humble, and genuine people I have ever met. He really wanted me to learn, and even with all the distractions of the film crew, assistants, and other people there, he made sure that he focused on what he was teaching me. He did his best to make me feel as comfortable as possible during what was a nerve-wracking situation for me. At the end of the lesson he gave me some DJ items that weren't included with the package and invited us to be his guests at Rain nightclub in Las Vegas on our next trip which was scheduled for September of that year. We stayed in touch online, including him sending me a sample track we used during our lesson, and he introduced me to Direct Music Service, a subscription DJ music pool.
How nervous were you during that lesson on a scale of 1-10 (10 being terrified)?
10! The lesson was planned months prior and my nervousness escalated as it got closer. The day of the lesson my wife and I went to lunch and I couldn't even eat. The club we used for the lesson was closed during the day, so we were meeting outside. We met the representative from MusiCares on the sidewalk and they told us his assistant would come out and get us when he was ready. We were standing around talking when a side door opened, and Adam stuck his head out and said "Hi, I'm Adam". This is when the nerves really kicked in. After we met everyone and he joked about how unattractive night clubs are in the light of day, he asked where I was at on a "DJ level". I told him I was fairly new, and I was trying to learn how to crab scratch. At this point I stopped the conversation to tell him how nervous I was and that I wasn't myself. He asked me why I was nervous, and I told him he was the reason I became a DJ. He smiled, and said he was nervous too since this was his first time teaching anyone. He patted me on the back and said we would get through it together. I felt better for a minute, then he asked me to crab scratch for him to see where I was at. First he did it himself to show me, then asked me to try. This is where the nerves came back, but I tried anyway and failed miserably. He said I had the right motions, gave me a few tips, and told me to keep practicing. After that, the nerves got better as the lesson progressed.
Do you have any other previously unreleased videos from that lesson? After AM passed away I shared a few clips of my lesson on YouTube and with the 10 year anniversary of my lesson this year, I thought it was a good time to share some more. One of the clips is AM explaining how Serato works to the film crew and the other two are up close videos of him scratching to show what it felt like to be next to him working.
Where do you view AM on the pantheon of DJs?
In my opinion Adam is and will always be one of the best DJ's to ever exist. His style and technique was one of a kind. He had an amazing ear for music and would put together beats or wordplay that most DJ's would never think of. No genre was off limits. I always describe my lesson as a guitar player getting a lesson from Jimi Hendrix. Talk about the "As I AM: The Life & Times of DJ AM" film screening event you had in your home town of Grayling in Michigan?
After we attended the LA premiere of AS I AM, I wanted to bring the film to my hometown so others could learn Adam's story. We live in a small town and a lot of people weren't familiar with him. I wanted a way to honor him and try to pay him back for everything he did for me. This all came together on April 28th, 2017, and after getting the necessary approval to bring the movie in, I had a one night only screening at our local theatre, the Rialto. I asked some DJ friends of mine to DJ an afterparty for all the documentary attendees at a local brewery, Paddle Hard Brewing. DJ Rob Sample from Toledo OH, DJ Fade from Saginaw MI, DJ Gunner Metzer from Grayling MI, and I all took turns doing sets in AM's honor. For a town of our size it was very well attended and I got a lot of great feedback. I wore my 94 Jordan 1’s in his honor that day.
What affect has Adam had on your life personally & professionally?
Professionally Adam is the reason I am a DJ. He taught me a ton of things in that short lesson that I was not learning on my own. I have met a ton of great people in the industry all because of my lesson with him. I have had opportunities from meeting these people that I never would have had otherwise. I prefer open format DJ'ing because of him and his style.
Because of the videos of the lesson that I had posted on YouTube, I was recognized by and able to meet several other people in the industry and have become good friends with several of them. For awhile, anytime we would travel, someone would walk up to me and say they saw me in the "AM video". I originally posted them after AM had passed as a tribute to him and so others could see his talent. Still to this day I get positive comments from people who watch the videos, which is why I am excited to release these new clips. Adam is also part of the reason I am a SneakerHead today.
I will never be able to repay Adam for all of the things that he has done for me, even after he has passed but I will always try and I will always keep his memory alive. One of the best compliments I have ever received was from his sister Lara after he had passed. She told me "my brother really liked you and he had fun during the lesson".
Check out this recap video posted by the Grammy's about Shawn's lesson, it includes interviews with both AM & Shawn about the experience:
Special thanks to Shawn for sharing the new clips plus giving insight into his experience with AM and letting us know the history behind the YouTube clip we've all seen a million times.