Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 242: I broke my duck...

Hey there.

I've been teasing about it for the last week or so now, not really to build any anticipation, mainly because I wanted to hold off posting about it till it actually happened! Here is the full low down on my first big step forward...

A while back I posted about some competitions that I entered. Whilst I was excited about the prospect of winning, I wasn't holding my breath. One of the competitions was for the chance to play at Creamfields Andalucia 2010, with a DJ battle taking place at the 2009 event.

The battle section of this had 20 available places, and the mix I submitted was tight, so I was thinking mathematically there is a slight chance I might get picked. More significantly (yet less tangibly) because this was likely to be a massive challenge, I though it sods law I'd get picked. Having to speak to people in Spanish, whilst using kit I've never used before (CJDs and DJM mixer) layered on top of performance anxiety and nerves was quite a daunting prospect.

However, I didn't get picked. I was actually a little disappointed, but then thought that probably loads of people entered, more than I was thinking, so that was fair enough. I'd more or less forgotten about the other Creamfields competition until the following dropped into my mailbox:

"Congratulations! You have won a slot in the Iced Cream Van at Creamfields 2009 with DJDownload. You have been picked out from 100s of entries by the guys at DJ Download and are invited to perform on Saturday the 29th August 2009."


I dashed to tell my girlfriend who told me I had gone as white as a sheet.

All disappointment at the other competition went out the window when I read that. I had been picked from HUNDREDS to play Creamfields. Creamfields. The biggest Dance music festival in the UK.

OK, not main stage exactly, but it was legitimately Creamfields enough for me!

Cue the nerves. The event was only a week away, it was in England (I live in Spain). I had to frantically look into flights etc and thanks to my brilliant brother and his wife, they made it possible. This thing suddenly got a lot more real. I was committed, no backing out now.

At this point I will mention how badly I suffer from nerves. Sometimes I wonder why I torture myself over becoming a DJ, cos even the thought of performing to an audience gives me the willies. I actually think that's why I want to do it though, as when you have a fear like that, forcing yourself to overcome it, or face it is the best thing ever.

So here I have the best opportunity ever to both finally DJ out, AND overcome my fear.

I spend the next week practising like mad and watching tutorials on how to use the CDJs/Mixer. I knew more or less how to use the kit, but wanted to bone up, because doing two things for the first time ever at the same time just magnifies the anxiety.

The week was long, but eventually Friday came, and we flew to England. Every mile closer making the anxiety/excitement (as aren't they really the same thing?) intensifying.

A well received good nights sleep set me up for the long drive from London to Warrington. Trying not to think about it on the way up, but the monotony of the motorway making it difficult to think of anything else.

We get to the event and that's when the fear really kicks in. I even contemplate bailing it at the last minute. All that effort down the Swanee, but at least I wont make an ass of myself.

I get to the place where I am meant to be playing and it's all a bit of a blur. Some young lads are on the decks effortlessly mixing, mashing things up.

I can't avoid it here I am, my slot time coming closer. The guys on the decks then ask if I'll go on NOW cos they fancy having a look round the festival. I blurt out 'yes'. Here it is... the moment of reckoning.

I clamber into the van, get my CDs out, fumble with my headphones, cast a quick glance over the kit. Ok, I can do this. This is no biggie. I put the first CD in... I can't hear it in the headphones! Panic! Even though I knew exactly how the mixer worked, in my giddy state I just blanked. Having to ask one of the lads before me and earning a funny look!

Bang the DJ - Live @ Creamfields 2009 by bang

So I kick off my set (after ungraciously killing the other guys' last track - sorry!) and the mix is going all over the place, despite all my rehearsal. Ok, I skankily blend it over, not too great, but it will do. The next mix however goes great, water tight and nicely dealt. This is the confidence boost I needed.

From that point on it went fine. Not without the odd loose mix etc but considering I was working on new kit for the first time etc I expected an amount of that anyway.

So there it was, my first time playing out. It went well enough, but more importantly it taught me many things. The reality of DJing in a booth with unfamiliar kit/monitors etc is something I need to take into account more. DJing in between other guys also means some fluidity is needed.

I even changed my well rehearsed set on the fly due to some of the tunes I was going to play not really being right for the moment. Definitely lots to take on board.

The BEST thing I got out of it though was that great sense of achievement that I had been hoping for all week. That and the boost in confidence I mentioned earlier at conquering something new.

In secret, I think I had been sabotaging myself from moving forward. In many ways the one thing I was avoiding was the one thing I have been wanting to do. Paradoxical I know, but the longer avoided playing out, the longer I could avoid the chance of failing at it.

I'm not saying I wont ever be nervous again, but I think that at least I will just have regular performance nerves, rather than first timer nerves whipped up with anxiety about not having used the equipment before. In short the sort of nerves that do you good.


Right, this definitely earns me some bangs, though again, this is something I didn't quite anticipate when I was making the scoring system.

The nearest thing on the score card was this:

Non-flyered(or name not on flyer) club, general slot, more than 500 people= 10

I think it's actually worth more than that being as it was Creamfields! So have cheekily upgraded it to a 15. I am also scandalously giving myself an additional 10 points just for winning the competition, as that in itself was a worth achievement. They say I was picked out of hundreds... just me, the sole winner. Gotta be worth 10 points surely.

Here is a video of me playing, there are some more on my youtube.

All in all a brilliant experience, and I hope this has gone a long way towards pushing me forwards. The underlying message to all of this is, push yourself to do those things that scare you the most. If you are scared of failing then by NOT doing it you guarantee failure, at least by having a go you stand a chance of succeeding.




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