The fabulously moustachioed gentleman on this page is me, Jonathan Georgeff, also known as (DJ) Phoenix Rizin. When sitting down to write this, I spent a long time thinking about the best way to describe myself to you, the site visitor/potential employer/screaming fan. After thinking about the places my life has taken me, I can best sum it up in these four words.
I am a storyteller.
I’ll prove it. I’ll tell you a story right now.
There was once a boy growing up in New York City. Besides his family, he had three loves: music, television, and computers. Dressed in the finest garb of the 1980s (very brightly, very mismatched, and with his baseball cap firmly turned to the side), he’d often be found with his cassette player, blasting the only music such an impeccably dressed man could.
There was something about the classics that spoke to him, even as some of the classics he would later play as a DJ were being created and playing on the radio. He realized even in his youth that one form built upon another, paving the way for his gradual shift to the music of his parents (especially Motown, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors) and eventually to more contemporary acts like Black Sabbath, Guns N Roses, M.C. Hammer (I…I mean…he…has no regrets), Michael Jackson, and Queen. While he would always carry an appreciation for music, it would only manifest much later when he became a two-time winner of Rocky Presents’ beat battle, and subsequently as a DJ and sound engineer at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
But before any of that would happen, he would dance the dance of visual art.
The kid loved television. His parents would often joke in later years that the boy was more attentive to the commercials than the actual programs. In some cases, it was very much true. While fortunate to be born at the perfect time to be a cartoon lover (enjoying the best of the 80s and 90s), the commercials between the action were often as interesting and full of storytelling in their 30 second bites. A good commercial was like a good joke, needing very little to leave you with a lot, and potentially falling just as flat. He’d keep this in mind as he later worked in advertising, designing motion graphics for the same kinds of commercials he was enamoured with, and realizing how even the flow and timing of images helped tell the tale of the sale.
If the boy was to grow up to be a storyteller, there was something already in him from day one that would propel him through much of his early life. He was a nerd. From the first time he had a keyboard within his reach, he felt at home basking in the warm glow of the screen, and as the internet rose to increasing prominence, it was inevitable that he would feel the beckoning call. The phone rang when he was in high school, and to combat the dreaded history Regents exam, he built his very first website: a simple table of data with important facts, decked out with the finest in animated GIF technology at a time when they bedazzled pages like ornaments on a Christmas tree. As Old Glory flapped in the invisible breeze next to the page title, the young man made a decision that would change the course of his life.
He decided, for some God-forsaken reason, to keep learning about making websites.
Interestingly, I mention that he kept learning about it, and not that he knew he had a destiny and decided right there and then that he wanted to do it for a living. That’s because he was still in the midst of his “I’m going to be a professional wrestler” phase. The “Attitude Era” of the WWF was a heck of a drug. But I digress…
In college, while working in (and eventually running) the radio station, he found himself by talented, young musicians looking to get their music out into the world. The internet had developed into the primary marketing arena, and having some skill in coding, along with a joy that could only come from making gaudy site headers and fancy Flash sites (at a time when knowing Flash almost guaranteed job security), the young man decided to make a business of it. That choice would introduce him to a colorful cast of characters, from rappers to video directors to promoters to fitness personalities. His growing portfolio, along with an awesome recommendation, would land him full-time employment doing full-time web development, where he would also make the aforementioned commercials as well as doing copy writing and story boarding. He still freelanced, expanding to animation and film work, while at the same time helping to produce monthly hip hop shows and DJing for events.
With a change in the location of his employer, photography and tourism became his main trade. Life in the open air would be a challenge, but he would face it head-on, and took the opportunity to increase his skill with a camera as well as people. There is much to be learned when a person greets thousands of people in a day. You learn about culture. You learn about yourself. You learn how much people share the same basic story, and that the biggest difference is how the story is told.
I am a storyteller.
I tell stories with code and graphite and wax discs. I tell stories with words and food and bad jokes. I tell stories with a hearty laugh or with solemn eyes. Knowing how to tell the story is an intrinsic part of life itself. I’m thankful for every day I get to do so.
…I think I’ve said enough now.
…this probably should have been a blog instead.
…okay, really, I’m done.