I first met DJ SKOLi, otherwise known as Ryan Roberts, surrounded by high-energy hip hop acts at a crowded basement party in Pilsen. The rowdy vibes hummed with emcees spitting bars while hanging from the rafters of the loft overlooking the bustling makeshift DJ booth – the party was getting wild.

Given that the venue was a friend’s apartment, these kind of antics were causing me to worry about my buddy’s security deposit ever so slightly. Gratefully, DJ SKOLi put my mind at ease.

From behind the DJ booth, SKOLi effortlessly managed and controlled the crowd and the performers to his liking – not in a nagging, annoying sort of way – but as a veritable party shaman. Exuding a quiet confidence, he kept things running smoothly without killing the buzz. This trait laid within the backbone of his art and career as much as it existed within the confines of that basement party.

SKOLi started DJing in college by throwing house parties and curating fire playlists. Eventually, he obtained some proper equipment and immersed himself into the art. Up until his senior year, he explains, he was DJing but hadn’t yet delved into the production world. However, after he moved into a 1-bedroom apartment by himself, he started making beats out of sheer boredom.

Since then, SKOLi released a couple of his self-produced projects via his Bandcamp – The SKOLi EP and Concussed. On April 19th, he’s dropping another project, which will be called YZG. This EP will be more collaborative than his previous work and will feature Phoenixx, Milly Mango, and Lil House Phone – to name a few.

Beyond performing and producing, SKOLi also runs a record label dubbed Kinky Elevator Music – a concept which came from traveling to conventions in Vegas while working for a pharmaceutical company. During his stays, he would listen to the sounds of easy listening jazz playing throughout the halls and elevators of the hotels, noting that they were surprisingly fresh.

Finding himself “shazaming” songs to chop up and sample, he decided to start a collective and give it a name as alluring as the fresh sounds. According to SKOLi, Kinky Elevator Music has taken on a life of its own and he hopes to see the brand develop into something bigger than himself.

Based on our conversations, it’s easy to see that SKOLi is a genuine music lover, in the purest form. With a great head on his shoulders and a plan soon to crystalize, we should all be excited to see what this man has in store for us.

Inspired by fellow Chicago DJs, he is planning a big party in the next few months that will be called Skochella. Keep an eye out for it, it’s sure to be a banger.

If you are interested in seeing what he is currently up to, make sure you check out his upcoming EP release party on April 19th at Underground Wonder Bar.

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