Monday, May 5th, 2014 by Nicole Piering
At first glance, DJ Sinister isn’t your typical country star. He favors shades and studded baseball caps to cowboy boots and Stetsons. He rocks sunglasses more frequently than Eric Church and he’s littered with more tattoos than Brantley Gilbert. Yet at the heart, he’s a true country guy with a deep-seeded love for the music he was raised on. While country continues to expand and stretch beyond tradition and into new genres, Sinister hopes to be one of the pioneers of mixing country and dance, poised as a musical mastermind who brings the party wherever he goes.
Growing up, DJ Sinister (real name Derrick “Tripp” Tribbett), was always surrounded by country music, having parents who were big in the local country music scene. He swears that they played the honky-tonks to put him in diapers. After growing up a country fan, he began dabbling in other types of music, which is where he began his professional music career. At the age of eighteen, he had a record deal with Geffen Records as part of the rock band Twisted Method, which took him across the country on Ozzfest. Shortly after, he continued dabbling in various types of music before his paths crossed with country legend John Rich.
It wasn’t long before Sinister was working side by side with John Rich, to whom he was introduced by his music partner/producer, Charlie Pennachio. Rich gave him a publishing deal, asked him to remix some Big & Rich music and then join them on the road. Sinister admits that one of the first times he met John Rich, he dressed up in a wig and a mustache, telling everyone he was John’s cousin, Rick Rich. From then on, Sinister and Rich became quick friends, collaborators and tour mates, with Sinister pumping up the crowds with his innovative remixes between sets during the Big & Rich shows.
Although one would think that Ozzfest and country music are two different worlds, Sinister tells me that they are surprisingly more similar than you’d think, “Big & Rich, they’re a rock band. When those guys hit the stage, it’s insane…They’ve got a bar ON stage that people party at, so it’s complete mayhem…It’s pretty awesome.” And while everyone is partying, they’re looking to him to keep the party going between the sets. In order to do that, he started mixing up songs and creating mashups to see what the crowd responded to, and they loved it all. One of his first, and favorites, is a mashup of “Salt Shaker” by the Ying Yang Twins and Luke Bryan’s “Country Girl Shake It For Me.”
In addition to touring with Big & Rich, Sinister worked with Cowboy Troy on his most recent release, King of Clubs, which was produced by Troy and John Rich, Additionally, DJ Sinister’s “Country Fried Mix” is currently burning up radio stations across the country, hitting playlists on stations in Charlotte, Chicago and Miami. There, he and producer Pennachio mash up country’s hottest songs with EDM beats for a nonstop country dance assault upon the listeners that is nothing short of epic. Sinister says that the only motivation for picking songs for the mixes is what we’ll keep the crowd moving and partying.
Sinister lists Frankie Ballard and Randy Houser as two of his current favorite guys in country music. “I recently worked on some music with Frankie Ballard, he’s really good,” he says.” And Randy Houser is just a great guy all around. You never know what to expect when you’re walking up with a hat with fifty spikes on it, but he’s great all around.” He also lists playing with Charlie Daniels as another highlight of his career thus far. When it comes to future collaborations, Sinister is open to anyone who’d like to work with him. “I’m all over the place, but there’s no one particular that I’m shooting for, but if anyone wants me to come out and play with them I’m down.” However, he does have a soft spot for one country bachelor, “I’d like to go out with maybe Chris Young. I’m really feeling that ‘Aw Naw.’ I have that one mixed up and it’s pretty crazy – that’s one of my favorite ones I like mixing.”
Sinister admits that, while country music has dabbled in hip hop and rap recently, he feels like this year could be the beginning of a shift towards EDM and dance music in country, as already seen on projects by the likes of Jerrod Niemann and a forthcoming project from Big Kenny. “This could be the year – I have a feeling there are going to be a few songs coming out that are right for four on the floor, 120 BPM…really stomping songs.”
While some traditionalists may complain about the current state of country music, DJ Sinister is both loving and embracing it. “Right now, I really like it and that’s why I want to be a part of it,” he says. “Ten years ago there may not have been a spot for me in Nashville because I’m so out there. I love it.”