It was my birthday last week.
Not only did that signify 42 years on the planet, it also marked two years since my DJing comeback was triggered by playing again at my 40th birthday party. I hate the phrase “a journey” when I hear it on reality TV, but I can’t think of a better one to describe my experiences since that night in 2017.
Here are the five main things that stick out as the most important in case anyone is contemplating something similar.
A piece of me was missing and I didn’t realise
There is just something you can’t describe about doing that one thing you’re really passionate about. I have many good friends, for example, for whom their running is their “thing”, their true happy place. I really thought it was mine until I got behind my decks once again.
Yes, I still love to run and the social dynamics of being in a club. But DJing for a crowd again showed me how much of a void still remained until that point. I can only describe it as feeling like doing a jigsaw and discovering the tablecloth underneath was hiding that you had piece missing.
There are more ways to start again these days
The entertainment business is tough which ever aspect of it you’re involved with. DJing can be particularly so. I remembered the frustration of being young and trying to source good gigs in the closed shop of a provincial city. I wasn’t unsuccessful but it was very hard just to find an audience.
The phenomenon of internet broadcasting offered a different route back than had been available fourteen or so years before. There are a wide variety of stations out there with an inherently global audience and most of them provide a route to submit auditions. A related but different phenomenon is podcasting. In my case I was inspired by a friend to audition for Househeads Radio. Thankfully, they liked me, and I’ve been with them ever since.
Auditioning is still scary but gives confidence
My connection with music is such that there is a lot of me in everything I do. Having not made audition mixes for a number of years it was somewhat scary to put myself out there with complete strangers. To say I had some fear, uncertainty and doubt sending off my Mixcloud links for the first time in years would be an understatement.
The one thing of course I’d forgotten was the unique rush of adrenalin when you get a positive result. It started with that audition for Househeads and I’ve felt it since when I’ve successfully shared studio mixes with prospective venues. It’s a kind of affirmation that connects with your confidence deep down in something you care so much about. There is nothing more reassuring than a complete stranger who knows their stuff liking what you do when you haven’t done it for nearly fifteen years.
Finding a balance can be tricky
Like most people my life in my forties is way different to when I started in my teens and twenties. Trooping round bars and clubs every weekend is just not something I can or actually want to do any more. As well as my music I have family and career responsibilities and I enjoy them.
This is where radio is good again because it provides a regular weekly gig with an audience that I can plan around. More and more gigs “out” have arrived over time which has been great and broadly speaking manageable. It is difficult though as on the one hand your passion is to play and you don’t want to turn gigs down but on the other you don’t want to tip things out of kilter.
My best advice is stay focused on gigs you’ll enjoy and don’t be afraid to say no if it’s not your style or you won’t benefit sufficiently from it in other ways.
One creativity leads to another
I always enjoyed art and design at school and pay a close eye to presentational material in my career. I hadn’t however anticipated how much I would grow to enjoy developing fliers and artwork to promote my radio show and events. This has almost become a secondary passion alongside my DJing.
The thing that has changed of course is the media is so different. Facebook pages, Instagram feeds and blogs like this all have their own particular dynamics. Developing a personal brand and keeping it consistent has also been an enjoyable discovery.