A DJ’s music selection can tell a lot about them. The obvious thing would be how vast the variety of music they’re aware of, especially when they choose not to just follow what the music charts say. Second, it shows how fearless they can be, because it takes some courage to go against the grain — especially when you’re trying to get paid doing what you love. You’re serving customers music that you like, along with songs they know and enjoy. The DJs who take on this risk of playing for themselves first end up reaping the benefits by standing out. That’s something Philly DJ Rebel Foster has learned throughout his career. Whether at The Blind Barber, Leda & The Swan, or The Saint, Rebel Foster finds a way of leaving a memorable imprint in this city with his music selection and mixes.
A career in music was always destined for DJ Rebel Foster. Raised by his aunt and grandmother in Chester, Rebel was exposed to soulful tunes from greats such as The Gap Band, The Beatles, Grand Central Station, Parliament and Funkadelic, Stevie Wonder and George Benson. Even his mother used to be a singer, both of his siblings are musicians, and he himself started off playing the saxophone and piano when he was younger. His journey behind a turntable started when Rebel was fifteen in a studio on Chester’s 9th Street. This led him to express interest in DJing to DJ Cory Ak, who eventually put him in a program to teach kids like Rebel how to make music and DJ to keep them out of trouble. A trip to Swarthmore College is where Rebel found a safe space called WSRN, Swarthmore College’s radio station, where he hone his skills in audio recording.
Since launching his 19013 Cypher event in his hometown, Rebel has always had a desire to create or be a part of events that bring people together through music and after his first paid gig for the Art Museum at Warehouse on Watts in 2016, he realized he could turn that into a career. Since then he’s been able to be heard in different venues from The Barbary, The W, The Fillmore, opening for talents such as Big Freeda and Jazmine Sullivan, and being able to connect with peers such as DJ Hvnlee, DJ AKTIVE, DJ Aura, and Matthew Law who has been big influence on Rebel’s career. He’s even created his own event All The Cutz at the Blind Barber. I recently got to talk to Rebel Foster about his early days behind the mixers, his music selections when it comes to spinning, and some of his favorite events in Philly.