My Professional DJ Friend: Ralph Darden
In the 44th episode of Perceived Value host Sarah Rachel Brown sits down with musician Ralph Darden A.K.A. DJ Major Taylor. The two artists were introduced during Sarah’s recent trip to Chicago for the SNAG conference and after dancing all night to one of Ralph’s DJ sets, it was decided that he’d be the perfect podcast guest.
During a visit to his home town of Philadelphia, Ralph sat down with Sarah to discuss how he came to be a full-time musician, what types of events he finds most fulfilling to DJ, and what exactly does a DJ get paid.
Ralph Darden is a musician, DJ and composer based in Chicago.
The self taught, multi instrumentalist, grew up in Philadelphia, where he graduated from the High School for Creative and Performing Arts. He spent his formative years playing in several punk bands (Random Children, Franklin, AM/FM), completing a series of self-booked nation wide tours and releasing several albums on various independent record labels. All in the pre-internet world of the early 90s.
In 2005 he formed his dub infused, post punk band The Jai Alai Savant. He wrote and produced the band's album Flight Of The Bass Delegate and spent the next few years touring and performing both domestically & abroad. He currently plays guitar and sings backing vocals with Ted Leo & The Pharmacists.
Contiguously, his DJ career began in the late 90s. Initially guided by an obsession with the intersectionality of punk, reggae, hip hop and electronic dance music, Ralph took on the moniker DJ Major Taylor,(a reference to his days a a cyclist), throwing a series of successful genre bending dance parties. Ralph established himself as a adept open format turntablst and a pioneering figure in the burgeoning Philadelphia nightlife scene of the early 2000’s. According to Diplo “Wow ... well ... Major Taylor (Ralph) was one of the djs/musicians in Philly that inspired Hollertronix ... he's like one of the true sources of that party". Eventually he moved to Chicago, and in 2015 started his DJ company November Electric which focuses on pairing stylistically similar DJs with high end events like weddings, fashion shows, and wrap parties for film and tv productions. He has since dj'd wrap events for Ron Howard, Vince Vaughn, Steven Sodoberg and John C Riley. He has toured the globe spinning festivals and nightclubs. He has DJ'd over 150 weddings including destination weddings in Cambodia and Melbourne, Australia.
In 2008 he composed music for the independent film Polish Bar, and has since composed for several other independent films, commercials and television productions - including the short lived Comcast kids show, Gross World, in which he was a featured character. In 2012 he scored an episode of the animated series Happy Tree Friends, a collaborative effort directed by high school friend Rob Shaw. The pair went on to collaborate on other projects including a Transformers Toy Commercial for Hasbro. They are currently working their music project The Puny Humans. Ralph continues composing.