Karela Fry

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You wanna be a DJ?

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A few words of advice!

Please analyse your interest in music and find out whether you want to play instruments, sing songs or play and mix music. After all, you’re talking about some valuable years of your life. Once sure that DJ’ing is where you want to go, take it very seriously and be ready to work your butt off – nothing comes easy! If you want to do it for the money, don’t even try. Like all professions, money is less in the beginning but once you start making your mark, it gets better. And it’s a Glamourous profession with lots of Money & Fun 🙂

advices Jazzy’s DJ workshop.

Caravan has a story on DJing and learning to be one:

[Sunantha] looks down at her cell phone—vibrating repeatedly—and says, “Fish! I need to run.” We laugh at her toned-down expletive as she pushes her petite frame past hefty male bodies milling around at the entrance of the mall. The slight Keralite seems completely at home with the rambunctious crowds.

“The last two clubs I played at had lots of uska reference ka party hais,” she says. “The crowds would ask me to play popular Jat songs like ‘Jat da chora’, and would threaten to call their ‘contacts’ if I didn’t have a song they wanted to hear.” Sunantha would snap back saying their fathers weren’t paying her, or would intentionally tear up the occasional napkin scribbled with a compliment. Once, she even slapped a guy who was fiddling with the console. “I just told him to F-off, I didn’t care who his contacts were!” Two years of dealing with the rowdiness of the clientele at Last Chance was enough to steel her nerves—but also left her hankering for something less conflict-ridden.

Vapour was the place she settled for—and is also where we’re soon sipping a mug of in-house microbrewed light beer. One of the few places that have opened in Gurgaon to cater to the satellite town’s more upmarket and genteel residents, Vapour’s rooftop offers diners mezze platters, a view of the glass-and-steel skyline and pints of freshly-brewed beer. It all ties neatly into Gurgaon’s desire to be more like Singapore and less like, well, a developing-too-quickly-for-its-own-good Haryanvi village. For Sunantha it fit like a glove.

“After I’d put away some money, I started looking for courses and came upon Jazzy Joe’s and Spingurus’s websites. And just decided to call Jazzy Sir.”

The son of an Indian Foreign Service officer, he grew up on the move: “Papa was a rolling stone and we rolled with him,” he said, with a slightly theatrical air. At the age of 17, he began running a fortnightly song request program at a small Indonesian radio station off his two-in-one, and a decade later Jazzy was the resident DJ at the Taj Palace’s My Kind of Place (MKOP), where he conceived of the very popular expat hip-hop nights on Fridays.

DJing, which used to be seen as a bad career choice—associated with “daaru, masti aur ladki”—got an image makeover when albums like DJ Akbar Sami’s Jalwa and tracks like DJ Suketu’s ‘Pyaar Zindagi Hai’ began to rule the charts. “Ever since we started making top-of-the-pops remixes, got married, got good offices and studios, DJing became a more respectable career. It might be a night job but we take our jobs very seriously,” explains 43-year-old Suketu. He tells me about 19- or 20-year-old kids who walk in “wanting to do something with music”. And since learning an instrument or singing takes years of committed practice, they turn to something easier, like DJing. What adds to the allure is that the entertainment business is one of the few that seem immune to fluctuating markets; recession might sink every other industry, but people are still going to step out to drink no matter what, on happy days and sad.

In India where unofficial counts peg the number of DJs in Delhi alone at more than 10,000, training schools are springing up even faster than bars. The duration of a course at these academies ranges anywhere between two weeks and three months, and the training module is a standard mix of theory on the history of DJing and introductions to various genres of music, and practice with equipment like mixers, turntables, tape decks, amplifiers, headphones, lighting effects, computers and sound processors. A workshop ideally concludes with professional grooming, a completion certificate, and, occasionally, some guidance towards job opportunities.

DJ Jitesh is here to make DJs and make some money while doing it. Having started Spingurus five years ago, Dang specialises in private shaadiparties (said quickly, as one word).

“My first question to them is, do you want to be a club or a mobile DJ? If they say club, I usually send them back,” Dang says.

“Club DJs’ lives are the hardest. They play five days a week, for most of the night. They go home late, families get disturbed and you smell of smoke and alcohol, and only get paid a quarter of what a senior DJ gets. Club managers offer you so little because there are enough people willing to play for that much. Sometimes I even feel like I should stop doing this. But I have a belly to fill!” he says while rubbing his, which looks well filled.

Akbar Sami has harsh words: “I’ve visited schools all over India who claim they teach DJing, but these people don’t seem to know the first thing about DJing themselves. It’s all a money-making racket. They think with a few CD players, and a little teaching about stuff like beat matching and mapping, they’re running institutes!” He is exasperated with the lack of expertise and technical know-how in the market today: “You have to understand the console and people. And sound systems. They’re made by experts who know DJing is about not just the press of a button.”

Suketu is just as dismissive of the dilettantes. “They don’t understand that it takes more than just a two-month DJ course to be that successful in the industry.”

At VAPOUR, we move up to the terrace, where Sunantha’s seniors are now setting up the apparatus for the Friday night. Neon apples glow on the backs of the systems and the faces behind them glow in the light of their screens.

DJing sounds a bit like blogging, doesn’t it?


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

February 12, 2012 at 4:47 am

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