Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Hey Mr DJ: Ready to Play?

Published:Monday | May 29, 2017 | 5:00 AMKrysta Anderson
DJ Sanjay at the launch of CFW 2017
Richie Ras
ZJ Chrome
ZJ Liquid
Bambino
Narity
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Don't you just love it when your DJ plays your favourite song? Well, for this Men's edition of Flair, we've decided to flip the turntables and put them in a hot seat, asking traditional and unconventional questions about their mixing expertise on the party scene. So hey, Mr DJ, are you ready to play?

DJ Richie Ras: Richard Anthony Spence

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

Honestly, I didn't know what I wanted to be. I found something I loved, and the rest just happened.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

Not all crowds respond the same, but I get my cue from things like smiles, singing, rocking, and dancing.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

I'm open to requests before I start my set. Once I've started, it can get annoying having to switch focus to hear what a person is saying.

 

Do you get approached by a lot of females?

 

I do get approached by a few, not a lot.

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

A number of years ago, shortly after I first became popular, I was booked for an event in the United States. At the time, I didn't know to ask about crowd demographics. The responses weren't bad, but they weren't what I expected. I was playing for the crowd, thinking that the people were Caribbean-based, when they actually were all American.

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't respond to what you're playing?

 

I stay confident and composed, then try something else.

 

DJ Narity:

 

 

Richard Innerarity

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

Initially, I wanted to do something computer-based, or business related, but I got introduced to the industry in high school. And that was it.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

It depends on the crowd, but mainly when the majority of the crowd is at least rocking or responding to the music, then I can say they like what I'm playing.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

Requests are somewhat of an interesting situation I won't say I don't like to take requests, but if the request can be played during my set, then sure. If not, then we'll have to hear if it's played.

 

Do you get approached by a lot of females?

 

It happens, mainly for music-related purposes though! (I think)

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

There are a few, but I'd say my first night playing at Jamaica House at the Olympics in Rio - there weren't many Jamaicans at the time, and I had no clue if anyone could understand what I was saying, but I just let the energy and music speak for itself!

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't (or listeners don't) respond to what you're playing?

 

There will be instances where persons aren't at an event for the music, so I don't really look into that. However, if I'm playing at a party and there is no response, probably it's time to try another musical approach, switching genre of music or era being played.

 

ZJ Liquid: Michael Brissett

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

Growing up, from the age of nine to 15, I always wanted to be a pilot. Then I started high school, went to Cornwall College where I did an engineering course because I loved drawing, too, and did technical drawing. I was so good at technical drawing that I got the second-highest mark in Cornwall county for that year, 1993. So it was either engineering or architecture. But then I met a friend, Jason Russell. His father owned Pier One, so we started hanging out, going to Pier One and began getting interested in music. I started playing there from 1992 and I haven't looked back since. Music just captivated me.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

I know my audience is mine when my crowd is moving, singing and dancing.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

I like to take requests, but it all depends on the time. If you ask me for a request and I can fit it in the set because it goes with what I'm playing then I'll definitely go ahead. Pleasing my audience is always number one. If I can't play it and it's way out, I will let them know and ask them to request another one. All about making them happy.

 

Do you get approached

 

 

by a lot of females?

 

Whenever I'm playing I'm always catering to the ladies, so I always get approached by a lot of the ladies. They'll ask for pictures and big me up. To me, that is a good move, it's shows that I'm pleasing the ladies.

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

I was playing at the National Stadium one time for Red Stripe. They were launching something big. I was playing on the radio before, left the radio station to play there, and in the middle of my set, my computer just died. Not talking about the battery, the hard drive went dead, couldn't turn on. It was embarrassing on such a platform because everybody was looking forward to hearing me play, and I couldn't even explain it until later when I went to a specialist who told me that it was the hard drive that had crashed.

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't respond to what you're playing?

 

I keep on trying, I experiment until I catch them. I always catch them by the end of the set. Sometimes it's not you. Sometimes it's just the place, it's the people's vibe, it's the sound. It could be a lot of things but you have to try your best as a deejay, and for me, I try my best sometimes to change it up and give them a few things until I find it.

 

ZJ Bambino: Orrett Hart

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

Even if I didn't know it, I think it was destined for me. I always enjoyed entertaining people from an early age, and I used to buy 45s and do remixes with cassette decks even before I started to DJ. For school trips, I was always the one at the front bus with the driver controlling the tape deck.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

When I see everybody moving - even the bartender, security and promoter. I don't really watch the two-second forward on a top 40 song, it has to be a vibe from start to finish.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

No, I don't. It's annoying. I think if you book me, you know what I'm bringing to the table and I will control the pace and flow of the party. Requests will sometimes throw off the balance of the whole night. For example, someone wanting to hear a slow jam in the middle of a dance set and deciding that they're not moving until you play it. If you do request a song, I will try my best to get it in at the appropriate time during the night, once it fits in the juggling. However, if a bride requests a song at her wedding, then I will play it ASAP!

 

Do you get approached by a lot of females?

 

Definitely. The DJ is always the coolest person in the room, especially if he turns the party up. From baby in a pram to granny love me.

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

I can't really recall an awkward moment; however, I do have this recurring dream that the crowd is looking at me in silence and I can't find the next record, or my laptop doesn't play.

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't (or listeners don't) respond to what you're playing?

 

Even if you get a tough crowd, there's always at least two people who just love to party and are always lit. I usually work with those two and make them feel extra special, and then the vibe will just translate to the rest of the audience. Of course, gimmicks and a good sense of humour will work wonders every time.

 

ZJ Chrome:

 

 

Shaun Chabal

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

I always wanted to be a DJ, from high school. Therefore, I took the necessary steps to become one. After high school, I went to Northern Caribbean University where I studied mass communications to make my way on to radio.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

A lot of DJs play and don't look at the crowd. For me, looking at the crowd and ensuring that majority of the crowd is moving, that's how I know that I've captivated the audience. If more than 50 per cent of the crowd is not moving then I am not pleased. So, I think it's very crucial to watch the crowd and keep them going.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

I love taking requests on the radio and in parties also, because it gives me a fair idea of what my audience likes. However, some people push the limit. For example, they'll hear you playing hip hop and ask you for ska or EDM song, and that's just a little drastic, especially if you played within that genre they are asking for a few minutes ago.

 

Do you get approached by a lot of females?

 

I do get approached at parties, but that's the old-school way. They're more inside the DMs (direct messages). But yes, I do get approached, and handle it the way I'm supposed to handle it - like a professional.

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

My most awkward moment playing happened even recently - when I'm playing and nobody's moving. It's not that I'm not doing a good job. It's just that they're not there to dance, I guess the light is too bright, I guess something else is distracting them from enjoying themselves, and it actually feels awkward just playing the music and seeing no one move. I get that sometimes, especially the nowadays crowd with their cell phones.

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't (or listeners don't) respond to what you're playing?

 

Unlike artistes who have their songs that they sing and then they go home, we as DJs, it's a lot harder. So if we're playing music and it's not working, we just keep changing until we get them. Sometimes we end up going too far and we have to go back. For a DJ, timing is everything, you have to know the right time to drop the right song. If I'm playing music and they're not moving, I'll try something different, different genres or different eras of music. Hopefully, something works. You can never please them all, so I just try to please the majority. If you've tried everything and a crowd is still not moving, there are times that you just have to do it for yourself, hoping that they will feel your energy.

 

DJ Sanjay: Sanjay Smith

 

 

Did you always want to be a DJ?

 

I didn't always want to be a DJ. It began as something I would do for fun back in high school - just buying cassettes and having friendly clashes. It continued throughout my first degree where it became so much more.

 

How do you know when you have captivated the audience?

 

I know I have captivated the audience when I can see the sweat and smiles of enjoyment. When they become their own choir, singing along to every word, doing every dance move. When that person who was sulking and stationary begins to dance free-spiritedly.

 

Do you like taking requests?

 

Every real DJ hates request. And the reason why we don't like taking requests is multilayered. When someone comes and wants to hear a song now just because they're in that mood, that just cannot work. A DJ isn't a jukebox or an iPod. All sense of partying, creativity and group enjoyment would be lost in taking requests. And don't come up saying, "I'm leaving soon so play it now". If you have an early curfew stay home. It's annoying.

 

Do you get approached by a lot of females?

 

No (laughs out loud). They only really approach to request a song and terrorise the DJ. Then again, I'm naive to these things at times.

 

What has been your most awkward moment playing?

 

My most awkward moment. Twice I've done events and let's just say some persons couldn't wait until they got home.

 

What do you do when the crowd doesn't (or listeners don't) respond to what you're playing?

 

A good DJ must always read his crowd before he starts playing. I always like reaching to an event in good time and walk around and through the crowd. Like any sensible practice, if plan A isn't working, change it. Some persons, sadly in business as well, will continue executing a failing idea. If it's not working, just change it.