The ways of the stadium DJ: How Indiana's DJ Unique became a Bloomington fixture
Beneath a red tent with a white Indiana logo beyond the north end zone of Memorial Stadium stands a MacBook Pro, 30 pounds of equipment and 60 minutes of music.
Underneath the tent and behind the setup is Matt Englert, better known as DJ Unique—the official DJ of Indiana athletics, a position he's held for nearly two years. For the Bloomington native, the opportunity is a dream come true.
"My favorite part about this job?" Englert said. "I don't think we have enough time."
The initial connection to Indiana athletics began when Hoosiers head coach Kevin Wilson invited Unique to a family barbecue for the program and potential recruits in the summer of 2011. It's been a summer tradition ever since.
Unique worked with the football program almost exclusively until his big break in February 2013.
ESPN's College GameDay was rolling into Bloomington for a primetime matchup between Michigan and Indiana and suggested having a DJ pump up the audience after the tactic worked during its visit to Butler.
Soon after, deputy director of athletics Scott Dolson and the athletics' marketing department met with Unique. Afterward, they got him set up to spin from the sideline and energize the students who would be arriving at Assembly Hall early that morning for a chance to be on the show.
Up until he received that phone call IU senior assistant athletic director Mark Skirvin , he'd been a resident DJ at Kilroy's on Kirkwood, Kilroy's Sports Bar, and Dunnkirk—also known as the Kilroy's family of bars—while also doing the weekend mix on Bloomington radio station B97.
He hauled his equipment onto Branch McCracken Court and got set up on the sidelines, playing music during commercial breaks. He did so well, Indiana credentialed him to play during the next five men's basketball home games.
"I got my phone out and I texted my dad and I'm like, 'Remember how I always wanted to play in Assembly Hall?" Unique said. " 'I'm getting ready to play in Assembly Hall.'
"It was the most surreal, crazy thing."
Since then, he's mixed music at basketball games and remained stationed under the same red tent in the north end zone for every home football game. He also creates 90-minute mixes for Indiana's other 22 teams.
Back at Memorial Stadium, Unique adjusts levels and samples various beats on his Pioneer DDJ SX2 controller. He starts with famous Hoosier musician John Mellencamp. As recruits stream out onto the field from the weight room, he'll span artists from Boston to Fetty Wap.
The recruits are there with their parents, Unique points out, so he has to keep the music tastes of another generation in mind. He's sure to keep country music in his rotation for the coaches, especially Wilson, who has been instrumental in Unique getting the role he has today.
"Coach Wilson is my dude," Unique said. "That guy is so great, and he's been so good to me."
Unique also takes visual from video coordinator Joel Baron, who used to have Unique's job of playing music during the games. While Unique has a full DJ set, Baron would play the stadium music off of his iPad. Baron usually gives a thumbs up or points at Unique if the players seem to be enjoying the music. If they aren't, Baron stops by the tent and requests a couple of songs the players want to hear.
"He makes my job a lot easier," Baron said.
He plays until the 25-minute mark on the scoreboard, when he's signaled by Baron to fade out the music. Then the PA system plays Ozzy Osbourne's "Crazy Train."
No set is the same. Unique said he tries to find different remixes of different songs, for example, to mix it up. That decision-making process usually starts at 8 a.m. Monday morning.
"If you'd have told me five years ago I'd be doing it," Unique said. "There's no way I would've believed you."
Stuart Jackson is SI's campus correspondent at the Indiana University. Follow him on Twitter.