What’s life without music? To some, it’s food for the soul,it calms, it entertains, and it also unites people. Why do you think Madonna sang “Music makes the people come together” in her hit song Music? For others, it’s their rice bowl.
Music aficionados live, breathe and dream music. After all, “without music, life is a journey through a desert”, so says novelist Pat Conroy. Music exists in different genres and only the creative and unconventional manage to strike it big. These days, people are not satisfied with the car-tunes they listen on the radio whilst on the road. There are in fact two kinds of people – those who simply buy records and MP3s and listen to them as they pant on the treadmill; and there are those who actually make music.
When I say make, I mean really piece together something worth listening. It definitely takes trained ears to tell two different music pieces apart. You have got to feel the rhythm, know how many beats per minute (BPM) there are in a song and all that jazz. Welcome to the world of deejaying. Mention the word DJ (disc jockey) and the first thing that comes to your mind is its supposed glitz and glamour, and well, fame.
Hellooo, it’s time to wake up and smell the sunflowers. Being a DJ is more than trying to get people to worship you. Look at Paul van Dyk and John Digweed. Those two fellas didn’t suddenly wake up from their beds as renowned deejays. It took them patience and a great passion before they turned into household names. Okay, I hear you already; you want to know how you can be just like them? Well, then go to school, I say! I wasn’t kidding when I said ‘school’.
Believe it or not, there are schools in Singapore that actually offer courses which could groom you to be that super deft DJ you always dreamt of being. First of all, you’ve got to have a keen passion and well, a great love for music. Once you’ve got that, you’re all set and ready to go bring the house down.
So what are you waiting for?
Read on, get a lowdown on the whole shebang and get groovy. DJ Academy AudioSports This DJ academy was set up by a locally established DJ store otherwise known as AudioSports.
Set up in 2001, it aimed to provide an opportunity for all bedroom DJs out there who want to learn more but haven’t had a chance to. So if you seriously want to be using that turntable like a pro or beat-mix so smoothly that you can’t tell the difference, then then you might as well sign up for one of their courses There are three levels – Basic, Intermediate and Advanced. The classes are hands-on and well planned. The equipment provided is state of the art and they have only the best instructors. One of them is none other than Zouk’s Resident DJ, Brendon Perera. This 39-year old veteran has had more than 25 years of experience in the industry and he tells us more about the whole undertakings of a good DJ.
“People think that a DJ that plays songs that get peoples hands in the air is a good DJ”, says Brendon. That might have some truth he says, “but how can you play a 6 hour set where every song is a hands in the air song?”
“There’s a lot of DJs out there who are playing very forward futuristic music and getting no recognition at all because people just want to hear the same old pop tunes song after song – then you won’t consider that person a DJ; he becomes a glorified jukebox” said a rather exasperated Brendon.
One can also easily understand his frustration with having to deal with those who want to be a DJ just for the sake of. It’s really more than just a self-glorifying hobby. Brendon explains that the courses offered can be quite complex and “a lot of people who come here and think it’s all fun and games either leave with a different mindset or get disillusioned because they think it is easy – it’s not really that”.
“How good you become is how much work you’re willing to put, and how much practice you’re willing to put in”, says Brendon. He compares it to passing an exam, “how many books you read, how much knowledge you acquire will enhance your ability to get an A as apposed to a B+ or a C, it’s the same principle here. How much work you’re willing to put in will determine how much better you get or how you improve along the lines”.
E-TracX Set up by music enthusiast Edwin Lum and Stephanie Choo, this outfit is home to two former Singapore DMC Champions, DJ Rough and DJ KoFlow. Both DJs have not only proven that they have the chops but also what it takes to teach those eager up and coming DJs. This deejay school offers courses that vary from Basic, Intermediate to Advanced.
Those who are not comfortable with taking classes in a group can opt for the individual course where a DJ will take you under his wing, one-on-one. Edwin reveals his earnest passion of reigniting the DJ scene here in Singapore. To Edwin, DJ-ing is more like an art, though it depends on individual’s perception. Most of his customers are bedroom deejays, but he tries to get gigs for them.
“There’s still not enough local support so we try to create public awareness as well. We organize a few small parties so our students will have hands-on experience of how it feels like to play in front of an audience”. “Instead of getting foreign DJs in, we can groom our local talents and bring them out to create their own label here. I train students, all the basic stuff. We don’t restrict them. Different people have a different way of doing things, and it’s more about their individual creativity. The rest is up to them”, explains Edwin.
Edwin organizes a lot of road shows to promote deejaying and “to let others know what we’re doing behind the decks. To educate them, and guide them along and definitely to improve the music scene in Singapore”. He admits that it’s tough, “no doubt it’s an expensive hobby but we set a path for them, to do it as a hobby or as a career” and he implores Singaporeans to “be more open-minded”.
DJ Scene & Heard (DJ schools in Singapore)
DJ Academy AudioSports (www.audiosports.com), 376B River Valley Road (opp. The Aston)?Tel: +65 6834-9133
AudioSports offers the standard Basic course and also Hip Hop and Dance Intermediate and Advanced course.
Basic: Students are taught the basic skills of DJ-ing – How to use the turntable, maintain and understand the mechanics of the equipment and learn how to beat-mix tracks.
Intermediate: Students learn how to incorporate their knowledge of music, bars and keys into their mixes to make it sound good. They will learn how to watch for drum patterns, intensity and the technique of mixing smoothly, one track to another.
Advanced: Students will learn how to combine everything they’ve learnt in the Basic and Intermediate course. They will learn how to use acapella effects, layering music over and also a better knowledge of music keys and bars.
Basic – 6 lessons
Advanced – 8 lessons
Excelsior Hotel & Shopping Centre, 5 Coleman Street, #B1-13. Tel: +65 6334-3688
E-TracX offers Basic, Intermediate and Advanced courses – you choose to be taught in groups or as an individual.
Basic & Intermediate: Students are introduced to the equipment and will learn to beat match and hip hop mix.
Advanced: Students will learn the techniques of scratching, turntabling and beat juggling. They will be equipped with the necessary skills in order for them to develop their individual style.
Basic & Intermediate (8 lessons, 2 hours each)
Advanced (6 lessons, 2 hours each.