Musicians are barely getting a slice of music industry revenue, largely eating off of live performances instead. For ’Tour Tales,’ we dig into the rider requests, delayed shows, diligent preparation, and future of touring by talking with the multitude of people that move behind the scenes. Record executives, photographers, tour managers, artists, and more all break down what goes into touring and why it’s still so vital to the livelihood of your favorite artists. What happens on tour stays on ‘Tour Tales.’
Jeffrey “DJ JP” Archer is only 25 years old and has put himself in the position to succeed beyond his years. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, he’s been deejaying since 2012. This was around the time he secured deals with a few State University of New York colleges to deejay their shows when artists like Future, Migos, and A Boogie would make their college runs. Now, he’s the official DJ for the hottest rapper in New York City — Pop Smoke — and has watched the 20-year-old rapper grow into his own onstage.
“When he comes out, his energy is on 1000. He wants to be on 1000 for the whole show. If we do a 45-minute show, after a while, he’s going to get tired,” JP told REVOLT. “He did that for the first two shows in London before realizing, ‘Alright, I have to know how to balance it out.’”
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Pop Smoke’s first-ever touring DJ talks about the artist being prevented from performing at Rolling Loud NYC, the business of being a touring DJ versus being a club DJ, and what to expect from Pop’s first headlining tour this year.
How did you first link up with Pop Smoke?
We had the same background of friends and people we knew. We ended up meeting through another DJ of mine. Once you’re from Canarsie, you either know each other or have seen each other. Dom hit me up like, ‘Yo, there’s a show today. Are you available?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ They were like, ‘Can you be here in the next 20 minutes?’ (Laughs). It went from there.
Was that the June 2019 show at Amazura in Jamaica, Queens? What was that like?
That Amazura show was actually his first show. That was before he was out there yet. That Amazura show was a concert I did on my own. I do a concert every year for all the kids in high schools. We do a prom party and then a big graduation party for all the New York City schools. Stephen Victor (Universal Music Group’s Senior Vice President) and I had been in contact for a while. He saw me post up videos of Pop. I deejay for all the colleges upstate on the east coast and he hit me one day like, ‘Yo, they know his music out there?’ I was like, ‘Yeah. It’s going bananas.’ He saw I was doing these big shows and was like, ‘Yo, you think I could bring him out at one of these events?’
So, that show was during June and he had never done any shows yet. He didn’t know what to do. He came to me afterward like, ‘Yo, bro. I ain’t going to lie. Thank you.’ After that, everyone was like, ‘Yo, you’re going to be his DJ?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know.’ Our first show on the road together was Mercy College (on September 7, 2019).
What was the Mercy College show like?
That was crazy. It was my first show with an artist at a college. They had at least 2,000 students. We only did three songs. It was a short show, but the energy was crazy. You would’ve thought he and I been doing this for years. We were in sync off the rip.
Then, a month after your first show together, you two were overseas touring with Skepta on his ‘Ignorance Is Bliss Tour.’ What was that transition to an international audience like?
It was crazy and something I didn’t expect. I knew they liked the New York rappers and loved that they get on the U.K. drill beats. They showed us crazy love. You would’ve thought we were Skepta (laughs). Me, as a DJ, would go to certain places that Pop wasn’t even booked for, and they’ll book me for clubs and events out there, and I was headlining. They knew who I was, too. London was one of the best places we’ve been to. The U.K. artists show so much love, as well. Any artist that goes on the road, I tell them the first place they need to visit is London.
What songs got the best reactions out there?
Of course ‘Welcome To The Party’ because Skepta remixed it, and a bunch of other people remixed it. That was a global song. A song I was surprised went crazy out there was ‘Scenario.’ Also, ‘Dior.’ You could tell they pay attention and listen to the album. Usually, people only knew the hit songs when they go to concerts. But, they knew the words.
Pop hadn’t done any shows prior to linking with you. So, what did he have to adjust to and get better at on the stage?
To be honest, we don’t even practice. That first show was him coming out like, ‘Yeah. I’m the face of these songs. I’m Pop Smoke.’ So, that first show really went smooth. The only thing I do notice that he fixed up, when we were in London was when he comes out, his energy is on 1000. He wants to be on 1000 for the whole show. If we do a 45-minute show, after a while, he’s going to get tired. He did that for the first two shows in London before realizing, ‘Alright, I have to know how to balance it out. I can’t keep running around for every single song.’ That’s probably the only thing. Certain songs he likes a capella in, and I drop it in at a certain cue point. Those are things we’ve been very smooth with.
What is your chemistry onstage like with Pop?
Our chemistry is crazy. To be honest, we have the best artist-DJ chemistry. I know exactly what he wants to hear next. He gives me certain looks that say, ‘Yo, let’s turn this up.’ He doesn’t even have to say much. I already know where he’s going. He has a lot of faith in me where I can run the show for him.
On that Skepta tour, what were the interactions between Skepta and Pop?
He’s actually a dope guy. He came in for a couple of the shows and talked to all of us. He was thanking Pop for coming out. He was showing a lot of love. He did invite us out to his personal afterparty and stuff he had out there. But, we already had a full schedule. We mainly saw Skepta at the concerts. That was our first time in the U.K., so everyone was trying to get us here and there. We didn’t have much chill time. You’re in a new place, doing new things, meeting new people, eating new foods.
Did you do any sightseeing?
We didn’t do too much touring. We were in different places, though. We did Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow, Manchester, and we were going to those different places to do the shows. But, we didn’t have enough time to really go around these places. We were doing interviews all day and then we’d have two hours to ourselves, which was really so we could take a nap, shower and get ready for the show. After the show, we had to do after-party appearances. Then, after that, we go back to sleep. We’re going back to London in June for Wireless Festival. We’ll visit some places when we go out there.
What’s on his rider?
That rider changes all the time (laughs). It’s nothing crazy on there. There are a few bottles on there. He always wants his Moët. He likes his Henny. He likes candy. He likes these little fruit candies and gummy worms. That’s probably the most he wants. He may want some hot wings.
What’s his personality like off the stage when it’s just you two backstage?
He’s very cool and down to earth. Having a conversation with him is like having one with a regular person. He shows a lot of love and is very respectful. He’s a person that keeps it real and doesn’t switch up whether the cameras are on or not. He’s the same person. We’re cool and you’d think we’d know each other since he was 10. We’re always playing around and pulling pranks. We’re all young and still want to have fun.
Pop was prevented from performing at Rolling Loud NYC in July 2019. How did that affect him? What was that day like?
That was devastating. Everybody in New York state was waiting on Pop. We hadn’t really done a full New York show that was promoted as ‘Pop Smoke Live!’ So, that would’ve been the first NYC show. That broke a lot of people’s hearts. People were writing to me on Instagram, Facebook, and texting my phone, and even on his Instagram and stuff. People were upset because they were doing Rolling Loud in New York for the first time and you basically took off a majority of the hottest artists. Pop is the biggest artist in NYC. That was a wreck for us. We got over it. It wasn’t Rolling Loud’s fault because they were trying to work things out. But, certain things happen for a reason. After that, we did Rolling Loud in L.A. We have Rolling Loud in Miami coming up soon.
At these festivals and performances, have there been any artists who arrived to show love to Pop?
All the time. A lot of artists show love. A$AP [Rocky] is someone who always shows love. A Boogie, Travis Scott, Nav, and Calboy are a few others. There are a lot of rappers cool with Pop. They all show love. DaBaby, too.
What’s the business of being a touring DJ versus a club DJ?
It depends. Now, my price went up because I’m a celebrity DJ and the DJ for the hottest artist in New York City. I was making a lot of money back then. But, I will say it’s easier being an artist and tour DJ because you’re playing the artist’s songs and that’s it. You get your check. In the club, you’re playing hardcore for an hour or two hours, and then you’re getting your money. I’m probably playing about 8-10 songs live and that’s it. That’s the show.
Pop is going on his own ‘Meet The Woo Tour’ starting March 2. What do you and Pop have planned for that?
Honestly, it’s nothing planned yet. We just got those dates. This is officially going to be our first real big tour. This is going to be a month. I’m very excited about it. We’re going to a few places we’ve never been to. We’ve been getting feedback over the last seven months [from] fans like, ‘Please come out here.’ There are loyal fans at these shows. You should expect a lot more music and shows. He has a lot of music coming out with a lot of artists. He’s not playing. We’re definitely shaking the room in 2020.