DJ Skull: “Their Eyes Were Radiant”

DJ Skull and Marceline at The Promised Land 2015
DJ Skull has been a part of the dance scene for several decades. In 2015 I interviewed DJ Skull about his first gig ever. "Never underestimate the power of music."

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Chicago-based DJ Skull, a.k.a. Ron Maney, has been a part of the dance scene for several decades. In 2015, we met at The Promised Land festival where he was booked as an artist. His first-ever international gig also happened to be in the Netherlands. He has fond memories of our country. Naturally, I interviewed DJ Skull about his first gig ever. "Never underestimate the power of music."

“Around 1982/1983, I started listening to older guys. I found my dad’s old turntables in a closet, saved up for needles, cartridges, and everything else I needed.”

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Power Plant Chicago

“I promoted myself like crazy at my high school, and since 1985, I’ve been DJing for audiences. My first big gig was at the Power Plant in Chicago, where I come from. I was seventeen.”

In the Zone

“Of course, I was quite nervous. I still am until I drop the first record. Then everything falls away, and I feel in my zone. I never prepare my sets; I edit everything on the spot or go live. I try to pick up the crowd’s energy.”

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Miss Djax

“My first international gig was at 21 in Amsterdam. I played alongside Miss Djax. That same weekend, I also performed at Phycothrill in Germany.”

Imported Records

“My friends supported me immensely from the beginning. My parents were also very enthusiastic about my progress. Most of my friends were older and already well into music and the dance business. They gave me imported records and equipment when I was just starting. My father bought a synth sampler for me. An older DJ gave me a TR-707, Korg synth, and a Tascam 16-track. After a while, I earned enough from my gigs to expand my own gear.”

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Radiant Eyes

“I remember how proud all my friends and my girlfriend were at that first gig. They were all on stage with me, and we were so young! Their eyes were radiant!”

Power of Music

“The club and the gig were fantastic! I am very critical of myself, so I am never completely happy after a performance. I immediately wonder, ‘What now? What am I going to do next?’ Of course, when everyone is dancing to my set, I think that’s great. However, I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of music. Every track has a message, at least for those who are open to it. New and old music touches people and brings them together. It’s a great feeling to see people lose themselves and transcend the norm. That vibe!”

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“I love feedback, and it pleases me to hear how everyone interprets the music in their own way. I learn from the crowd every time, and every gig still feels like my first.”

“I can now be booked through the agency HJCKD AM, an artist management and booking agency. They are based in Amsterdam and also represent some old friends, so it feels right. In June, I’m coming back to Amsterdam to perform, in the same place where my first gig outside the US took place!”

This interview with DJ Skull was originally published in May 2015 on

Who is DJ Skull?

DJ Skull a.k.a. Ron Maney lived in the Southside of Chicago (IL, USA). His musical career took off during the summer of 1986, while het was recovering from a broken bone. During the following years he homed his craft, DJing first at basement parties, building his reputation to go on to larger events such as, loft and hotel parties, and eventually the infamous Music Box and Power Plant clubs.

At the age of fifteen Ron shopped his first demo at Trax Records. There he first met Chicago’s legendary DJ Ron Hardy, working as A&R for Trax Records. Two years, and a new alias later (DJ Skull) later while at the Power Plant, Chicago’s own Steve Poindexter heard a DJ playing one of DJ Skull’s tracks and met Ron. Steve was now A&R at Saber Records and invited Ron to release some tracks. So in October of 1991 DJ Skull’s first record “N.R.G. Music” was released.

In 1993, he released the EP “The Stomping Grounds” on Djax-Up-Beats, which was more noted than the first one. Over the years that followed DJ Skull released lots of EPs on several labels. He has become well-respected producer and DJ in the techno industry. He was playing at famous events in the USA and Europe such as: Planet Djax 1 (Chicago, IL), Mayday 8 (Germany) and The Lollipop (Sweden) just to name a few.

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