Scott Ialacci — known professionally as DJ Skribble — rose to fame in the 1990s and 2000s thanks to stints as a member of the hip-hop group Young Black Teenagers, and being one of MTV's most prominent personalities and the network's resident DJ. If you weren't grooving to the beats he dropped on Total Request Live, The Grind, or a number of other shows, you've likely heard him spinning at some of the world's top nightclubs, and creating and remixing some of the hottest dance floor hits.
What you might not have known, however, is that DJ Skribble is a father of three: Scott, 11, Frank, 9, and Rosie, 4. In a new series called Project Dad — which features DJ Skribble, along with comedian Donnell Rawlings and Days of Our Lives star Daniel Cosgrove — we get to learn more about his role as a parent, as we see him playing both mom and dad while his wife Dana is away for a full 48 hours.
DJ Skribble took some time to talk with A Plus for a special edition of The A Plus Interview, and to reveal his thoughts on family support, staying humble, and recognizing kids' talents.
How do you compare your life at home vs. your professional life?
It's pretty much like night and day. … Right now, I'm traveling through the airport with my big pillow getting ready to get on another plane and play in a club in the next city, and I'm this different entity on the road. And when I go home, once I get through the front door, I'm Scott, and I'm taking out the garbage and I'm playing dad. It's like totally separate lives.
This is probably silly, but which do you like better?
Obviously, now that I have kids and that I can be home with them, [that's] what I like to do. Though I still enjoy everything I do on the road — I love my job, I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. Next to my kids, it's my passion in life. … [But] I like being with my kids instead of after-hours.
What is one thing people should realize if they want to be at the top of their profession?
Live with your passion and your heart; stay humble to the whole thing. It doesn't make you any better or any greater than anybody else, and that's the one thing that I emphasize in my whole career. I've had the luxury, the perks, and everything else, but I'm still a kid from Queens [N.Y.]. And I respect it and I always will respect it until the day they put me in the ground, because I've met so many celebrities, and when you get to this level, they get a little jaded, and they're, like, it's an honor to talk to them. And it's, like, no, if someone comes up to me and tells me, "I became a DJ because of you" … that's a blessing, and some people don't look at it like that, but I do. I try to stay positive … I've had many failures, many of them, but I don't quit. Losing is not an option. … You have to have a thick skin [in the entertainment business], you gotta be able to weather a lot of storms, a lot of rejection. [It takes] a strong-minded person and a very big heart to continue on in this business, especially today.
People say music is universal. Do you think that is true? If so, why?
I totally believe music is universal, and I think that … with the technology we have now, you can discover anything. ... I think people today aren't taking advantage of that the way they used to, where you went and discovered that kind of thing when you went to a record store, heard a song on the radio. … I love to discover new artists and talent and music and genres. I feel that no matter where you are in the world, a hit record just gives you a feeling … [it] makes you all feel the same way, there's no animosity, there's no nothing, and this emotion that this music, that this songwriter gave all these people that are dancing, they all feel the same thing. When you have a song like that transcends those lines, it's a hit, that's why it's universal. You don't even have to understand the language to understand that emotion.
How important is family support as you've built your career? And how important is it to remember where you came from?
Family support is everything. My wife has supported me with this, through thick and thin. When I was first coming out, [I had] problems with my dad. He didn't understand it at times, which was weird because he was in a musical group and he came from a musical background. Whether it was because he didn't like the music that I liked, people that I was associated with, [that it was] hip-hop, and the real early stages of that. But that support … it worked both ways, because not having support … proved that I could do it and nobody was going to stop me. And having the support now and especially with children ... without that, it would be pretty miserable. And that's also what helps keep you grounded and knowing where you came from, because when you're out here by yourself, it's very lonely, there's no one to talk to. But when I leave, [my wife] has her two brothers, and her parents, and her in-laws to help her when I'm gone, and we have a very big support system in our family, and it's very important.
What advice would you give to someone who might be wondering if their kid is good enough to be involved in music, acting, sports, etc.?
My nephew Antonio from my wife's side of the family, he was — from a very young age, 5, 6 — he was an incredible artist, drawing-wise, and we just let him hone it, hone it, hone it, and it came to the point where [we had to] get him that training. It all depends on how much work the child puts into it, you can't force it on them. It's heart, you can't teach heart. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have the drive and the heart ... It's a tough thing to push on a child, but you can kind of see it. Antonio just draws every day, … he doesn't want to be in the house playing Minecraft. … My son Scott, he's very into movies and production, and all the creative stuff like that, and I'm watching him now. "Dad, did you see the way this thing was shot?" He's 11, he likes the cinematography, so there's definitely something there that I want to push him in that direction. So when you start to engage with the child and you see where their interests are, you have to be able to pay attention. … Some of these kids have 50 directions they want to go. My middle son (Frank) wanted to play the drums, and he wanted to do this, and he wanted to do that. It becomes very expensive, too, after a while, because you get him the drum set and he plays it for five seconds, but you have to try. You have to try everything because you don't know where that click is, you have to watch for it. And when it comes, just pounce on it. For me, it was the same thing. I was just drawn to music and DJing, and when I saw this kid DJ in the park for the first time, and the control of making people dance, it was just like, I had it at 11 years old — I said this is what I want to do forever.
Both A Plus and Project Dad are brought to you by Chicken Soup for the Soul.