Updated: Mar 8
In recognition of July being Disability Pride Month, DJ PJ joined us for an interview to discuss himself, his art, and his journey.
Interviewer: For Disability Pride Month, I’m here on Zoom with DJ PJ. PJ, would you like to introduce yourself?
DJ PJ: Yes, so, I’m PJ, DJ PJ. I do both music and art at program at Able ARTS Work. I train my skills during classes. Last semester just ended.
Interviewer: So, what do you do? Why do you call yourself DJ PJ?
DJ PJ: I do some DJing at events and help out with some friends, like Maria, at her art show. I remember my first time helping her. I did two shows recently, one of which was my own show.
Interviewer: What are some of your favorite shows that you’ve DJed at?
DJ PJ: I like DJing in Long Beach. I did a collaborative show with my friend Jesus there and I DJed my own solo art show too.
Interviewer: You’ve mentioned your art shows. Do you want to tell me a little bit about the artwork you create?
DJ PJ: For one of my mixed media works, I broke vinyl records. I painted the canvas first, then broke records and hot glued them to the canvas. Daniella [art instructor] helped me with that part. I have created many different artwork. I have an artwork that just sold, because Jesse [music therapist] and me made these interview videos [on Youtube] and someone watched the interview and wanted to buy my art. I got paid for that.
Interviewer: You just mentioned that you like to do interviews that are posted on Youtube in addition to Art Beat Radio's Podcast. Does social media help create awareness and help you sell your artwork and music?
DJ PJ: Yeah. I like doing the interviews.
Interviewer: With your interviews, your DJing, and your artwork, what inspires you? Why do you do what you do?
DJ PJ: Because I have seen some other artists do different styles at other programs.
Interviewer: So other artists inspire you?
DJ PJ: Yes. I think Carlos’s art does that. Carlos from the other program, EPI.
Interviewer: What about inspiration from outside of Able ARTS Work? Any other artists or musicians?
DJ PJ: I like to research for inspiration on the iPad, the one I use for class.
Interviewer: Do you have any music that inspires you? Do you perhaps have a favorite musician?
DJ PJ: I don’t really have a favorite song, but I can tell you what my friend Maria likes. Maria likes Spanish music.
Interviewer: Are you inspired by your friend’s music and by people around you?
DJ PJ: Yes, when I found out that she liked Spanish music, I wanted to research it at home. Then I started playing it at my next couple shows.
Interviewer: So, PJ, I have a deep question for you. Do you have a goal in life? You do all this DJing and art. If you could do anything in the future, what do you want to do?
DJ PJ: I want to do art more. I currently do music in the mornings and art second. Then at the end of my day I usually do more music.
Interviewer: With everything that you are learning, is there anything you want to do with all these skills? Are you wanting to have more gigs outside of Able ARTS Work? Are you wanting to sell more art? It there a place you would love to see your art exhibited?
DJ PJ: I want to have more DJ gigs. I want to be able to help people out. And I want to do more artwork too.
Interviewer: I know that you are 28 right now, in 10 years’ time when you are 38, what would you like to be doing?
DJ PJ: Well, I want to do workshops. I want to teach workshops so that I can help more people. I used to help people sometimes teaching workshops over at program.
Interviewer: So, in 10 years’ time you want to teach a lot of workshops? That’s very cool! Do you prefer music or art workshops or is there something else that you really would like to teach?
DJ PJ: Music! …and some art too. I would like to teach music first and then maybe try an art workshop later. My music inspires my art.
Interviewer: Those are very exciting and worthwhile goals. I have a hard question for you, if that’s okay?
DJ PJ: Okay. Go ahead.
Interviewer: You have done a lot already in your life. You have created so much art. You’ve performed in many different locations. Has there ever been something that’s made it more difficult for you than other people to do these things? Is there anything that you stop and think: "This one thing has made it harder for me"?
DJ PJ: Yes. Sometimes I’ve looked at it that way. I like to watch the talent shows on the networks and wish that could be me on them.
Interviewer: Is there anything that you feel like has stopped you from having these opportunities?
DJ PJ: I don’t like to think about what stops me. Only I can keep going. If I have to, I keep pushing.
Interviewer: So rather than think about what has stopped you, you prefer to do your best in everything. That’s a good path of thought to go forward with in the world! I have another question for you. I told you that it is Disability Pride Month. Do you know what it means to be proud of something?
DJ PJ: I think someone told me that before. You can be proud when you help somebody else. It can also be about respect and listening to people.
Interviewer: Yes, that right. Being proud of yourself or having pride can also be similar to being happy about what you can do or have achieved because of who you are. So, Disability Pride is recognizing that if I have a disability, I can also be proud of who I am as a person because that makes me, who I am, and it makes me unique. What are your thoughts on that?
DJ PJ: I think I’m unique because if someone asks me to help, I can do it in my own way. So many people are making this big artwork, but I can do both art and music. I can keep pushing. I can help.
Interviewer: May I ask you about having a disability, if that is okay?
DJ PJ: Yeah.
Interviewer: Do you have a favorite thing about having a disability?
DJ PJ: When I was back in school, no. I couldn’t do what I was told to do, but then I found my journey to art. Then I went to music. Now I am here. My favorite thing about having a disability is that I get to do art and music every day. If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t be here [at Able ARTS Work].
Interviewer: That’s such a great point! You’ve obviously learned a lot now over the years. If you could go back to when you were still a kid in school, what advice would you, Adult PJ, go tell your younger PJ?
DJ PJ: I would go tell baby PJ that if you want to do music, or workshops, or arts or something else, or even go find a job and go help somebody out, you can do it!
Interviewer: Do you feel like if you went back in time you would tell yourself to not give up because you can do all these different things when you get older?
DJ PJ: Yeah, or I will keep pushing myself. When this world opens back up I want to go back to be able to help my friends at other programs.
Interviewer: You often talk about helping people. Is that something you aim to do? You want to give back to the community and use your skills to help others?
DJ PJ: Yeah, I have realized when I get back after everything opens up that this community helps people and I want to help people.
Interviewer: Who do you see as your community?
DJ PJ: It’s other people, they don’t look like me, but they will still ask if I need help. I will do events with my community and sometimes its people I don’t know.
Interviewer: You mentioned that a lot of people will ask if you need help in the community. Do you like it when people ask you or do you wish people waited until you asked them for help first?
DJ PJ: I like it when people ask me if they can help or tell me “keep going”. It helps me to keep pushing myself.
Interviewer: It sounds like your life goals are all about pushing yourself.
DJ PJ: Yeah, I have to keep pushing myself to do my music and art. Me and Maria did shows together. Have you ever heard of that theatre by Long Beach?
Interviewer: I’m not sure, what happened at the theatre?
DJ PJ: Me and Maria had the same show. I said that I could do it. I sang my voice out. I was like: “never again!” because I’m not usually interested in singing like that. I like performing for people and being a DJ, not singing.
Interviewer: PJ, changing the topic a little, because I’m curious, if you were a superhero, what superhero would you be or what superpower do you want?
DJ PJ: Spiderman.
Interviewer: Spiderman. You want to be like Spiderman and shoot webs? Why would that be your power?
DJ PJ: Because I really like the movie Spiderman, how he shoots webs and flies. I kind of want to do that.
Interviewer: Spiderman is very cool. That's a great super power. I have asked you a bunch of questions. Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you want to share about being an artist, or a musician, or being PJ?
DJ PJ: I want to keep doing more shows. I would like to do workshops on the side. Being me hasn’t stopped me. It has let me do more things, more art, and more music, than if I was someone else.
Interviewer: Thank you so much DJ PJ for joining me today and taking the time to chat about Disability Pride and your journey and career.
DJ PJ: You’re welcome! Thank you.
Want to support DJ PJ?
DJ PJ is also frequently featured on the Art Beat Radio Podcast. He interviewed peers as well and débuted two original songs recently; and he also has curated playlists for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and your summer backyard BBQ.
DJ PJ (aka: Lawrence "PJ" Ward III) is a resident artist at Able Arts Work affiliate studio Cultural Education Center for the Arts (CECA). PJ loves music, dance, and mixed media art. In Art, he enjoys experimenting with contemporary art media, including spray paint and collage. In 2018, PJ celebrated his first solo show at Long Beach City Hall and was recognized by the City Council for being an influential member of the arts community.
DJ PJ's work has been shown in group exhibitions at Carson Art Space (Long Beach, CA), the Long Beach Department of Health, Hotel Maya (Long Beach), ARTifact Forum and Gallery (Hawthorne, CA), and the George V. Deneff Gallery (Long Beach). Additionally, PJ has curated three exhibitions at the ARTifact Forum and Gallery as well as performed live music there. In 2018, PJ received the Certificate of Recognition for artists making a difference in the community by City of Long Beach.