How about a trip down memory lane with me and my DJ history with (or lack thereof) DJ equipment?
The curious and determined young DJ
Starting out DJing at a young age wasn’t any easy task, with no real budget to get ‘proper’ equipment, and no real knowledge on what to get, it was like jumping into the deep end.
The upside? I had very supportive parents. Although at the time, it might’ve looked like yet another expensive phase and having to fork out 1000s of dollars on toys probably wasn’t on anyones wishlist but mine. It actually turns out that my Dad was a DJ back in his hometown of Daet, Bicol. DJing with his family, his dad and cousins and providing all the sound production gear for the towns big events and bands.
My humble beginnings as a DJ actually began back in high school at our Year 8 End of Year disco, my first ever DJ gig. Yes, we held it down for two periods! You’d probably laugh if you saw anyone rockin’ the same gear as we did, get this.
2 CD Discmans and 1 Microphone mixer, just like the one here.
A week later, a classmate of mine asked me to DJ her birthday at her house, but with what? Told my parents about the deal and my Dad bought me a 4-channel mixer for this gig! (The exact one pictured here). Over the moon! So together with my two home theatre systems’ CD players and speakers, off we were to my first private gig.
Moving along, the gigs rolled in, and little by little I was getting busier with house parties from every grade at my school. At this time, I had no idea what I was worth and just ended up getting paid whatever they (or their parents) felt like giving me which was awesome for lunch money.
I can’t remember exactly when, but my bestfriend and I had a 13th (or was it 14th?) Joint Birthday bash which was a massive turnout in a smoke-filled community hall, and probably what kicked off our now annual ‘March Madmess’ birthday festivities. Without having to steer away from the point of this article, this was a massive party and our birthday presents proved so (so thanks to everyone that was there and gave us presents!). Savings and gigs later I ended up saving up enough money to upgrade to some proper Dual DJ CD Players I saw for sale online for $750 in Eastwood, which I still have to this day for keepsake.
The gigs still kept rolling in, and slowly upgrades to lighting, and speakers all came through – of course, with the financial assistance and support of my parents.
This was my kit that got me through all my gigs through high school, playing at all the community halls and house parties in the area.
The High School Party Pack
– 1 x 4 Channel SoundLab Mixer
– 1 x American DJ DCD300 Dual CD Player
– 1 x interM 500W Amplifier
– 2 x 400W 15″ Carpeted Box Speakers
– 3-4 American DJ lights + T-Bar
It lasted all those years and surprisingly, I actually still have this complete setup!
Come 18, it’s time to grow up and move on.
Only being exposed to my own DJing style and setup for all these years through highschool, I wanted to get into the nightclub scene but was hesitant and scared. What if I was doing something wrong? How would I know? I want to play in the R&B and Hip Hop clubs?
They’re all gonna laugh at me if I turn up with my CDs?
This last question was my main concern and the reason for my next upgrade. Turntables.
Feeling like my current setup was outdated and it was time to grow up and move on, I saved up enough money for two Technics SL-1200 MK2 turntables, and also bought a Pioneer DJM400 mixer (on the cheap and brand new off a close friend). Now where can I find records to rock a solid set when all my music is on CD? Enter Serato!
During this time, it was the end of the analog era, and digital was still in the middle of transition with Serato Scratch Live being something completely new and foreign to many ol’ skool DJs. The purchase was made and the practicing started (and til today has not stopped). Days, weeks, months went on where I doubted my skills if it was up to club standard.
The club break
Throughout high school and after high school I released a few mixes that got around which were recorded 100% live. I could never for the life of me figure out how to do all these fancy intros and layers on mixtapes, so pretty much I had to complete a seamless error free mix that was 80 minutes long. These got around and most of my friends enjoyed what I did and because of this and the fact that they knew I was still DJing, they really pushed me and motivate me to get into the club scene.
I was surrounded by many regular clubbers, who would be out getting drunk every Friday and Saturday, week in-week out. The word got around and got heard by the right people and was fortunate enough to land myself my first ever club gig, Chocolate City @ UN.
First gig was a success, I brought my friends with me who also knew club promoters from the other clubs who happened to be there at the same time I was playing. They enjoyed my music and I found myself with another club gig the following week! From there, I guess I’ve never looked back, I’ve met many people on the journey which makes it the whole experience 100x more fun.
So where am I now?
14 or so years later, I find myself with regular club gigs allowing me to play at various events, with different styles of music – ol skool, new skool, EDM and even deep house. The corporate gigs and agencies have also hit me up for gigs through the network of people I’ve met through the years and finding myself on the frontpage of Westfield Sydney every Thursday and Friday is pretty fun.
Whilst I’m sure you can say 14 years of DJing is a long time, and as you can imagine, we all get older too, so its only naturally, that the people I’ve grown up around are getting married and requiring DJs for their weddings too. A whole new ballgame but just as exciting as any other gig, with the added appreciation of cheesey music without any shame – I’m talking Hanson, Vengaboys and Aqua being played and sung out to the top of their lungs!
And where are you going?
Right now I’m finding myself getting busier and busier with private and corporate gigs requiring me to bring my own complete setup, from DJ equipment, lights, mics, speakers and subs to even projectors and more. Being a mobile DJ, you would want to make your own job as easy as possible, and lugging around 2 turntables and a mixer just didn’t cut it.
With the rise of MIDI DJ Controllers and all-in-one units becoming available on the market, I couldn’t look past the reputation of Pioneer and got myself the Pioneer DDJ SX, a handy 4-channel, all in one unit with a roadcase, which is probably lighter than one turntable on its own. The extra channels allow me to plug in a Microphone and a Line In for any random requirements and seems to be my current workhorse for current gigs. Depending on how I’m feeling I might even take out my turntables and Rane TTM57 for a bit of an ol’ skool feel.
At the time of this post, I’m enjoying what I do and am greatful that the bookings continue to roll in, I have a whole bunch of talented fellow DJs around me and am currently in the middle of trying to build something bigger, and build more opportunities outside the nightclub scene for the DJs that I believe deserve to be out there doing what they do best but just don’t get the opportunities to do so.
Something out of nothing.
As you can see, and as I can see now after writing this post, anyone can achieve their dreams and reach their goals with determination and persistence. When I did that first Year 8 Disco gig, I never would’ve thought I’d be living the life of a full-time DJ at any stage, nor did I think I’d be able to get the kind of opportunities to play for and meet some of the interesting people I have.
Meet people. Network. Let them know what you do and how you can help them. Surround yourself with people who support what you do.
I guess this goes for anyone, no matter what dreams, goals or passions you may have. If you’re truly passionate about what you do, you will subconsciously make the right decisions to get to where you want to be. From DJing to my grade on discmans, to DJing internationally in the next 2 months wasn’t an easy ride by any means, but atleast I know for myself one thing remained the same, and that was that the passion from the start and til now is what got me to where I am today.