You’re probably familiar with his sounds, perhaps you just never knew his name. John Han has been spinning at the campus bars in Champaign/Urbana for a little over three years now but has already shown signs of having somewhat of a dynasty over the local DJ scene. His music might be loud but his personality is humble as ever, and as long as you keep two-stepping, he promises to keep providing all the dirty beats.

UPC: When did you get involved with DJing and live events?
John: I first started DJing about 3 years ago, the summer before my Junior year. I actually wanted to start 3 or 4 years ago, but DJ equipment is really expensive and after scouring Craigslist I got 2 vinyl turntables and a mixer for $250. My foot in was at WPGU and I knew the radio director at the time, then I became a radio host and began working with radio DJ’s at the station. After Clys got renovated, I went to GM Wednesday to ask if they were hiring, got my gear Thursday from a high school kid in Chicago and Friday was my first gig.

UPC: How was it?
John: It was very nerve racking, but it was also exciting and almost overwhelming since I’ve always wanted to do it. I’ve been doing my research on music. Where music is coming from and where music is heading.

UPC: How long have you been active on the local bar scene here at U of I?
John: It’s been 3 years. I progressed from Clys to Firehaus, Red Lion, and then I got scouted to KAMS. Later I approached Joe’s with “Hi, I pretty much DJ every bar on campus and I have a pretty robust resume after a year of doing it.” After doing it for a year and a half I had DJed every bar on campus and downtown. I was working 6 nights a week.

UPC: What are some of your current projects?
John: I’m a booking manager for the Cochrane bars. Any DJ that wants to spin at his bar, I put them in and put them at the right time spot. The [general manager] of Red Lion, Brett, said it the best, calling me a “glich” in the system. The reason why is because KAMS and Red Lion are both very Greek, and the person running the show isn’t. But I work with every major house on campus, formals, semi-formals, you name it.

UPC: How has the music on campus progressed since you’ve started djing?
John: When I first started, music in Champaign was years behind what Chicago was playing. I think it’s always been a part of DJing and underground movement that lesser known genres aren’t going to see the day of light. When I first started, if I played any house music, people would refer to it as techno. People would automatically just leave the bar. When I first played Lady Gaga or Jay Sean before they hit the radio, people would leave the bar. Now we see a little bit more acceptance of what people want to hear. It’s crazy that all this has happened in the past 3 years of my career. People distance themselves from techno. Last year, I would play house music and upbeat stuff and the crowd would be roaring and chanting. Now if I play house there will be cliques of people having a good time.

UPC: What are your feelings on people making requests?
John: People have a general idea of what to expect from me, but it’s still good to hear requests I’m playing for myself. If the crowd tells me what kind of music they want to hear, then they are exposing me to something new. It’s a very parallel way to communicate with the crowd and we work together to create this beautiful harmony.

UPC: How would you describe your fans on campus?
John: I don’t really consider them my fans. I consider them my friends. Being in the position that I am, I don’t use social media to promote myself. If I was trying to create a fan base, then I would tell you to go to my artist page if you want to see where I am. If you go to my fan page I only have like 34 likes and about 40 followers. I like the one-on-one interaction more. After a gig I’ll always announce my real name which seems catchy enough. I really am just an average guy living in Champaign and I happen to like what I do. If people like for me doing it, then I’ll continue to do it.

UPC: How do you stay updated with the latest EDM?
John: If you look at the way music has evolved over time, it always finds a way to fuse together. There will always be mainstream and underground. Dubstep takes a lot of elements from UK grime mixed with drum & bass. That fusion allowed for dubstep to prosper as a genre. Trap music now is hitting in Chicago like it’s hitting in Champaign. What we play right now [in the bars] is something that is just hot off the production line. My favorite trap song right now is probably is either Luminox’s remix of “Rattle” by Bingo Players or DJ Carnage’s remix of “Spaceman” by Hardwell. Trap [music] is the perfect thing.

UPC: What exactly is 3AM Nation and how did it come about?
John: It’s an oddball that was created over the years. It’s a DJ collective, it’s event planning, it’s an artistic company. I don’t know what to call it, but it really is just an artistic creation. We are the only on-campus crew that caters to all the students. We’re also talent management and booking management. The core idea of the group is to really find talented people and to be able to make them stand alone. My job really is to pave the way for them to make it easier. When I first started it was more difficult to have the sort of rapport that I do now. Nowadays, I am the middleman that will give starting kids a chance and I’m also the one that will say you’re not doing this for the right reasons. I’m not the man to be judging them, but I do have enough experience and respect for the craft to be able to say whether you actually should be doing this or not. My main goal is to have a clean business. We have retainer clients all over campus, like Farm Lake and campus tailgates.

UPC: Where is your favorite place to spin?
John: It’s Red Lion, but it also a very tricky place for me because I am not Greek. It’s all good and dandy that I am known through the Greek community, but there’s still some hostility. I’m seen as an outsider. It’s important to keep them happy but keep myself happy. It’s the most receptive for new music and it’s the best for new routines that you haven’t heard anywhere place. It’s the best guinea pig kind of bar to be at [because] you’ll hear the newest stuff. I can really sit there and go, “Okay I think this is going to be popular,” and I can judge by the reaction of how many peoples hands are up, how many people are screaming or putting their drinks in the air. I can do my best routine and still not get the crowd reaction that I want. I have to be able to control my emotions and the my mind state on an instantaneous basis. Since none of the bars here really have a dedicated dance floor, you have to create a lounge experience and a raging experience.

UPC: Do you ever spin downtown Champaign?
John: I’ve had a residency at Soma before Red Lion on Saturdays. It was very exciting to be able to spin at such a classy place. It was quite an overwhelming experience. [However] the crowd that eventually came in there did not really make it classy. It’s supposed to be playing house, upbeat house, but people wanted hip-hop. If there’s no crowd, then there’s no DJ, so I have to cater to that.

UPC: Do you ever feel like you have to switch up your music depending on the spot you’re at?
John: The only time that I have to cater to someone are on specialty weekends, like Mom’s weekend. But other than that my routine has to be as wholesome as possible so I can cater to someone dancing in the back corner of the bar. Why leave people out? They came out to have a good time. That creates an interesting phenomena because you try to cater to everyone they overlook.

UPC: What are your favorite types of sets?
John: I don’t like being isolated, because I like being part of the crowd, and that’s why I love house parties. On Greek reunion we got shut down in 40 minutes. The house was very sound proof but one of the doors was not closed all the way so the sound leaked out. Next to opening Dayglow, that’s my second favorite thing. Playing for a crowd that’s expecting one thing and then hitting them with surprises is a beautiful, beautiful feeling.

UPC: What do you have in store for the future?
John: Well I’m definitely trying to focus more on private parties. One of my friends just got signed to a big label, and after seeing how I work he said I should be more into booking. I do a damn good job at whatever I do, and I work really hard at it. Where the road takes me from now on, I really don’t know. My ultimate goal is to make sure I have a good time while everyone else has a great time. I want everything to be clean, and no dirty business. I just want to revisit a lot of old roots with house parties and warehouse parties.

I didn’t think I would be at this point three years ago. I thought I would be doing this in my college years and then work in corporate for some Fortune 500 company. This was my plan b-z, my ultimate backup plan. Do I want to continue it as far as I can? Yes I do. This is something that I love to do.

You can keep up with John via Facebook and Twitter and see him spinning at Firehaus every Thursday, Clys every Friday, and Red Lion every Saturday. For any inquires contact Booking@3amnation.com or johnhan@3amnation.com.