Jasmine Banful, ‘20, ‘21G, once told her mentor Isaac Wellish, ’17, that behind the DJ deck is where she feels the most powerful.
For Banful, DJing is a form of communication. For those who watch her perform, it is clear she belongs on stage, Wellish said.
As a DJ, Banful shares her music with the Lehigh community, hoping to inspire others to share in her passion.
Banful is currently pursuing a masters in mechanical engineering, allowing her to remain in the area.
Banful’s DJing career started her freshman year when she learned of the Electronic Music Society at the club fair. After a few weeks of consistent attendance at meetings, she learned to DJ under the guidance of Wellish and began performing at university sponsored events.
Banful said she spontaneously came up with her stage name, DJ Zen, before her first show during her freshman year. Since then, Banful has opened for many concerts on the front lawn, including Blackbear, Halsey and most recently, Fetty Wap.
“As I went on stage (for Fetty Wap), I was like ‘wow, this is such a parallel from when I started,’” Banful said.
Banful said she was happy with the event and seeing students respond to her set with high energy made her feel good.
Madie Schulte, ‘22, president of Lehigh University Productions, said UP is always excited to have Banful perform because she knows how to engage a crowd.
“Everyone loves her,” Schulte said. “I was in the pit (during Fetty Wap), and she made me forget I was there for a reason because I wanted to dance with the other students. I thought she did an amazing job.”
Schulte said she appreciated Banful stepping in when the crowd got wild towards the end of her set at the concert. She said Banful has the ability to not only read a crowd and hype them up but also knows how to talk them down.
Banful said she is constantly plugged in listening to music, creating the soundtrack to her life. Whether she is walking around New York City or right before going on stage to perform, Banful said music is what keeps her going.
In terms of her concert preparation process, Banful said she compiles several songs she thinks will hype up her crowd, generally within the genre of the artist she will be opening for.
Wellish said Banful has grown since she first started learning how to DJ through the Electronic Music Society. He said when Banful first started, she didn’t know how to DJ, but she came in with a great taste in music, dedication and a lot of natural ability.
“(Banful) has shown me that if you really want something or if you’re dedicated to something, you don’t have to know anything, you don’t have to be a professional or perfect, you just have to really want it,” Wellish said.
Banful said the biggest difference she’s seen over the years is the increase in her confidence. She said although she always gets nervous before an event, she has become more comfortable performing over the years.
Nick Christy, the assistant director for Student Engagement and Student Center Facilities, said he has seen Banful become more of an advocate for herself and take on performance opportunities with the utmost enthusiasm and creativity.
“She knows that she’s good, and she has confidence,” Christy said. “I think that shines through. She has confidence in her music and her work. I think because of that confidence, she’s able to try new things, to be even more creative because she knows that she has the talent to do it.”
Christy said he admires Banful’s passion and drive, and he is always proud to chant her name. He said she is leaving big shoes to fill in terms of an on-campus performer.
During the pandemic, when she was unable to perform, Banful said she networked with DJs from around the world to learn different techniques and transitions, as well as learn about new music.
“Discovering new music and then finding a way to make them sound good together is definitely my favorite part,” Banful said.
Banful has aspirations to move to the West Coast and work as a mechanical engineer, alongside her DJing career. She said she plans to continue doing shows in Pennsylvania and New York City and would love to continue coming back for events at Lehigh.
Regardless of where she is, she said she encourages anyone with a love for music in the Lehigh community to share in her passion.
“If you’re interested in music, just hit me up,” Banful said. “There was a big music community here before COVID, and I’d like to see it brought back.”