Disc Jockey: Behind the glamorous facade of deejaying

With Indias middle class having expanded to an estimated 70 million households despite — not because of Central and state government policy formulations — entertainment and youth entertainment in particular, has become big business in contemporary India. And though provincial politicians particularly in state-level and local governments are doing their best to ban, tax, and/or exile youth entertainment establishments such as discotheques, pubs, music clubs etc, they are fighting a losing battle. Indeed with the passage of time the entertainment industry (USAs the second largest exporter) is multiplying the number of jobs and career options it offers.

One such glamorous and attractive career option for those who love music and are knowledgeable about it, is that of a disc jockey (DJ). In discotheques, pubs, clubs, and at private parties its the DJ who sets the pace and the mood. With their headphones, their fingers on the pulse of the audience, and of course an ear for music, they have arrived. Essentially DJ-ing is about mixing music. A DJs ability to mix and play the appropriate music can make or mar a festive occasion. At any given time, the objective of a DJ is to sense the mood of his audience and provide music to boost the party mood.

The DJs vocation has come a long way. New technology has made the job more technical. Today, there are more than 300,000 DJs in India, and the demand for these partymakers will continue to grow for the next 20 years since DJs are slowly becoming indispensable at all social events.

To become a DJ you need a basic knowledge of music trends, preferably a background in playing a musical instrument, a pair of turntables and/or a pair of CD mixers, a headphone, a mixer, at least one amplifier, and a set of speakers. This basic equipment keeps increasing as a DJs level of professionalism grows. These accoutrements are expensive so you have to be sure you want to be a professional DJ. Apart from hardware costs, you have to develop a distinctive style and should be able to differentiate between high quality and pedestrian popular music. You also have to keep yourself updated on the latest trends in music. Moreover, behind the glamour there is hard multitasking. Work hours can be long and most shows can go on till 2 a.m. and longer. But the money is good. A professional DJ can earn anywhere from Rs.3,000 to Rs.1.5 lakh a night depending on his reputation and the type of event.

Abroad there are quite a few professional schools offering programmes for training DJs. Among them Solomon Productions DJ School and Turntable Academy offer two separate courses designed to cover every facet of DJ training. Check out www.solomonproductions.com and www.starbulletin.com (Universal DJ School). You can also visit www.discjockeyonline.com.

Training schools. With popular demand for DJs growing, a number of DJ training institutes have sprung up across the country. Most of these institutes have been promoted by famous DJs, who have been spinning turntables for a long time or have won major competitions. Some of the prominent institutes in Mumbai are:

Dj Nashas Workstation

DT Surrs Splinters DJ School

Live Wires Career

DJ Suketus Audio Elite

DJ Kedars Academy

Azaredo Acoustics

One of the oldest, Azaredo Acoustics is the brainchild of Jo Azaredo, a much sought after DJ in the 1980s and early 1990s when deejaying was not as fashionable and there were only a handful of them. Azaredo Acoustics claims to have trained over 150 professionals, some of whom like DJ Suketu and DJ Lloyd have won national championships in deejaying and in turn have even started their own training schools.

When I started out in 1983, there were not even two night clubs in Mumbai which employed DJs. Today, there are between 50 to 60 which employ full-time DJs. Besides there are ample opportunities for freelance work. The boys have it much easier today,” says Azaredo.

Headphones on the ears, hands busy jamming records on the turntables while interacting with frenzied crowds dancing to his tune, Azaredo has enjoyed every moment” of his 19-year career as a DJ. Starting out as a DJ in 1980 at Mumbais trendy Studio 29, he moved to the Taj Mahal Hotels 1900 discotheque in 1982. Thereafter he was hired in 1988 by New Delhis Hyatt Regency Hotel to work as DJ of its disco, Oasis. Between 1991–1993 he was invited to DJ at the Taj Palace Hotel disco in New Delhi. Wherever I worked, I replaced a foreign DJ,” recalls Azaredo.

In 1993, Azaredo quit being a professional DJ to start his own training school in Mumbai. Nobody wants a 40-year-old DJ. Moreover, as you grow older you realise that you cant match the pace for too long. Really good DJs move on to cutting their own records or teaching. I love teaching. Mine is the only school in Mumbai which is truly professional. My students include college kids, engineers and even MBAs. Some of them want to do deejaying as a hobby but most do the course to become professional DJs

In his fully-equipped studio with state-of-the-art technology, Azaredo puts his students through the pace of a three-month Pro DJ certificate course priced at Rs.9,000. He takes on only three students at a time to give them one-on-one training. I use the standard world format, a 1200 turntable. I also have a computer and use software which turns the computer into a studio. With my computers I am able to generate sounds of international quality,” says Azaredo.

According to Azaredo, the prerequisite of a successful DJ is music appreciation and knowledge. Like a good dancer has rhythm in his body, a professional DJ has music in his head,” he explains. And there is life after deejaying. Azaredo has produced his own album, trance techno music with ethnic Indian instruments.

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