Spinning away - learning how to DJ from an expert

  • <B>Spin stars:</B> DJ beginner Leigh-Anne Shaw and Instructor Erik Laar from Toronto&#146;s Off Centre School take part in the DJ boot camp, which was offered on Island this week. A larger course is expected to be taught later on this summer as a way to encourage locals to develop their music mixing skills.

    Spin stars: DJ beginner Leigh-Anne Shaw and Instructor Erik Laar from Toronto’s Off Centre School take part in the DJ boot camp, which was offered on Island this week. A larger course is expected to be taught later on this summer as a way to encourage locals to develop their music mixing skills.
    ((By Akil Simmons))

  • ((By Akil Simmons) Spin stars: DJ beginner L)
  • ((By Akil Simmons) Go DJ: Instructor Erik La)
  • ((By Akil Simmons) Go DJ: Instructor Erik La)
  • ((By Akil Simmons) Hey Mr DJ - Budding disc)

There’s more to being a disc jockey than meets the eye.

That’s according to novice Jon Brunson, who has just undergone an intensive five-day boot camp with Erik Laar, of Toronto-based DJ school Off Centre.

Mr Brunson was part of a group of five budding entertainers taught the fundamentals of DJing using vinyl records and digital equipment. They also learned how to scratch, beat match, time count, transition and blend music over just a few days.

The group will unveil their new skills at a special happy hour at Ferrari Bar tomorrow at 5.30pm.

Mr Brunson said: “I always had an appreciation for music. It’s something as long as I can remember I have been interested in it. Given the opportunity to do it in Bermuda just made sense to me and has been fun, different and interesting.”

Danielle Paynter, aka DJ PM, journeyed to Canada to take the course in March. She wanted other locals to benefit from the training and invited Mr Laar to the Island to lead the intensive course.

Ms Paynter said: “I have always been interested in DJing. You see DJs out at the club and you think, ‘That is so cool. I would love to learn how to do that’.

“But you don’t have friends who have the DJing equipment or you don’t have time to learn yourself, that’s why I wanted to go away to DJ school to learn.

“I took a week off from work and enrolled in [Off Centre] and went up there and had a really great experience, met different people and really got on well with the instructor Erik Laar, who goes by DJ Steptone.”

She came back to Bermuda and told people about her experience and found many others interested in developing the same skills. Many were unable to take time off from work for the week or unable to afford the cost of a hotel and airfare to Canada.

“Bringing him here made it more economical for a lot of people,” she said of the $600 course.

Friend Mr Brunson partnered with her to bring Mr Laar to Bermuda.

Ms Paynter is currently undergoing an intermediate level training under the Canadian turntablist.

She has also had the opportunity to test out her skills alongside Omar Lodge, aka DJ Olé, at the Opus Bar.

She also expects to be one of the regular DJs at the Ferrari Bar — part of the Little Venice Group of companies — once it formally reopens on June 30.

The students will each do a 15 to 20-minute set at tomorrow’s happy hour event.

Mr Laar, who has been DJing since 1996, said he is excited about seeing them perform for the public.

“It’s the kind of thing where mastering the skill takes longer than a five-day boot camp, but it’s amazing how much you can accomplish with the right guidance.

“A lot of the skills I am teaching them, it took years to teach myself and within four or five days they will be able to perform a reasonably good set and soon might even excel in their performance.”

Participant Leigh-Anne Shaw said the course has taught her about the challenges involved in DJing but also shown her how rewarding it can be.

One day she hopes to join Ms Paynter in the DJing arena, perhaps ushering a new wave of females into the Island’s music mixing industry.

“I love music and it’s really good to see the hard work that goes on behind it and the bits and pieces. It’s a great experience,” she added.

Ms Paynter said she intentionally kept the boot camp group small to “test run” the programme and work out any kinks. She expects to bring Mr Laar back to the Island before the end of the summer so that a larger group of around 15 — about five per class — can enjoy the course.

For more information e-mail dancris@me.com.

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Published Jun 6, 2012 at 8:39 am (Updated Jun 6, 2012 at 8:39 am)

Spinning away - learning how to DJ from an expert

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