En route to being the next Annie Mac (one can dream), I roll up to Zouk for a crash course. Showing me the ropes is Jeremy Boon, Zouk’s resident DJ who also helped elevate Zouk’s nightlife status when it first opened doors in 1991. With over 25 years of experience under his belt, he can turn anyone into a DJ – even me.
Conducted on one of Zouk’s dance floors, the hour-long starter lesson introduces the fundamentals of beatmatching and seamless mixing before moving onto a hands-on tutorial on the Pioneer decks.
Jeremy is clear – explaining the decks, cueing, fader-mixing, and smooth transitions, all while bearing in mind the crowd. It’s not just technical as well. While I try out two tracks with different tempos, he encourages me to listen without relying on the waveforms and take mental notes – which track is faster? Where does the blend go wrong? Keep counting those bars.
Hooked after your intro lesson ($130)? Try Zouk Academy’s intermediate class to improve on mixing, programming, crowd reading, library sourcing and more over the course of five lessons ($500). Those who have what it takes are offered a shot at the Graduate programme ($1,000 for five lessons) where you get to shadow the pros during live sets on club nights and perform alongside them intermittently. Needless to say, I have not qualified. Yet.
Let MOE-approved DJs and Guinness World Record holders show you the tricks to amplifying live sets with advanced mixing techniques and song transitions, as well as fully utilising the components of the software and equipment. The basic DJ techniques course ($540 for six lessons) is also available under the SkillsFuture funding scheme.
The academy has been training dance music padawans with its range of classes on DJing, production and turntablism. Get acquainted with turntables, CDJs, controllers and mixers, starting with its elementary DJ course ($480 for six lessons). Need some gear for practice? DJ equipment and sound systems are available to rent at the academy as well.
Master the art of DJ mixing including using the Serato DJ software and hardware, recording a mix and learning how to market and get bookings. Besides studio time, students are taken on guided trips to selected clubs to study resident DJs in action. You can also polish your skills further by renting one of its studios for practice.
Endorsed by Audio-Technica, its wide suite of programmes teaches basic beat counting techniques, sound design, and understanding sound waves and melodies to combine tracks. Sample a lesson before committing to a course with its trial ($20). Did we mention an international exchange programme for successful graduates?
How these local spinners got started
Be curious about discovering and digging new and old music
“I’m always on the lookout for different and special sounds that will empower my set, making it different and unique to me. I got started at house parties and open DJ sessions at the now defunct Home Club where the space was opened for rookies to practise in a club setting. We lugged our drum and bass records and practised every Tuesday night.”
Have the desire to share music with others
“My journey as a DJ began when I started making mixtapes for myself and my friends. At first it was more of choice selection than beatmatching. I only progressed to doing mixing when I had the experience of working with proper DJ equipment later.”
Do something different at clubs and bring back that no-frills fun
“I spent my days at record stores buying vinyl, and my nights at parties observing the DJs. I started toying with my first decks and I couldn't stop. I practically locked myself in the room for half a year just figuring out the equipment