One day in June of last year, Adam Rodriguez – then seven years old – took his thousand dollars worth of DJ equipment – speakers, a DJ controller, a launchpad, multi-colored lights, and a fog machine – to a family friend’s party in Kendall.
Rosa Hartman, 48, spotted the handsome young blond there and asked him to perform at her son Carlos’ birthday party the next week. Adam showed up on time and did a great job, Hartman says, playing a variety of songs by Bastille, Taylor Swift, and DJ Marshmello. She paid him $50, quite a haul for a kid not yet out of third grade.
“He is fun, energetic, and professional,” said Hartman. “At first I thought he was just playing a playlist, but when I walked up to his table, I noticed that it was him mixing the songs while carefully deciding what to play next, and that was when I realized I wanted to hire him.”
Over the past four years – literally half his life – Adam’s world has revolved around creating beats and mixing songs. His style is inspired by his favorite DJ and music producer, Marshmello, who wears a head covering shaped like the candy and has created original songs with some of the biggest names in pop music like Halsey, Selena Gomez, and Khalid.
Adam, who has played five professional gigs in the last eight months, aspires to be just like his hero.
“I want to be like Marshmello because he makes great songs and he’s an awesome DJ,” said Adam eagerly. “He makes great mixes, and his music makes me feel nice.”
Zucel Rodriguez, 46, who is Adam’s mother and one of his top supporters, has been stunned by her son’s ability to entertain guests at parties with his love for music.
“What started off as a game in the house grew into something we didn’t expect,” said Zucel. “We never expected he’d get hired for a real party since he’s only eight years old – and he originally did it for fun – but when people see him they take him seriously.”
Although Adam’s interest for DJing started at four years old, his passion for music in general began when he was only a toddler.
Adam’s father, Ariel, 53, recalls how little his son was when he first showed signs of being musically inclined.
“I remember when he was between one or two years old and he was playing the bongos for the first time and he just went at it, playing while moving his hands and his body,” said Ariel. “That’s really my first memory of him being interested in instruments or in music itself.”
Ever since that moment, Adam was captivated by music of all genres. From guitar to piano, Adam was fascinated by anything that made noise. When he was three years old, he got a guitar for his birthday, and although he didn’t know how to play it, he had the time of his life pretending to be a rockstar.
The following year, Adam asked for a Numark Party Mix DJ controller for Christmas. He got into DJing on his own, but his parents believe that Marshmello had a lot to do with his sudden interest at the time.
As his passion for music grew, he made it his goal to learn to play an instrument. After receiving a keyboard from his cousin and aunt as a gift three years ago, Adam began taking piano lessons.
Gene Paul Gayol, 38, who has been recognized on Grammy and Oscar-winning projects like Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Encanto” has been teaching Adam how to play piano for over a year. He is now teaching Adam about producing music as well.
“Adam has a very good pair of ears, he has a really good sense of rhythm, and he understands it,” explained Gayol. “What’s beautiful to witness with someone like Adam, who is younger, is that you can see that he has a natural ability.”
Out of all the parties Adam has played at, his favorite one was a 50th birthday party that he did last December. According to Adam, this party was the most fun because it was at night, and apparently that made the party “real.”
Adam has made $250 DJing so far, and he’s looking forward to performing at more parties in the future. His parents hope his interest continues and that he’s serious and responsible about it.
“I want my fans to know that I’m the real deal, and I’ll even do free meet and greets for all the party guests,” said Adam excitedly. “I love you Miami and party on!”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated Rodriguez’s school grade.