DJing with Martin Garrix & other stories | DJ Tips Ep01: Q&A
Updated: Jan 23, 2021
In the first episode of my DJ series, I do a quick intro to my DJing career with some Q & A’s. There’s no point in me sharing all of this info unless I explain how I came to have it and help anyone discovering it get to know the backstory of it. I’m obviously not a world famous DJ, but I am a well travelled one and I think that travel is one of the greatest teachers. With no gigs for the foreseeable future (cheers Covid) I am taking advantage of the free time to create this series of videos and blog posts to share this info with anyone who might get some value from it or find it interesting. I wish that this kind of information had been accessible when I started out!
I’ll be writing up each video in Blog Post format. People learn in different ways and making this information available and easy to understand for anyone who needs it is my mission. I personally don’t know of anyone else who is going to be sharing this amount of information in this way FOR FREE, but would love to know (and maybe collab) if I’m wrong!
So let’s get into the Q & A…
Q: How did you start DJing?
A: in 2016 II was living in Portugal and working as a Street Artist as well as part time in a Surf School & Yoga Centre. I have always been fascinated by DJs and Music, despite growing up in the countryside where there were not really any parties or clubs. I saved up my wages from the Surf School for ages to buy myself a DJ Controller (the Reloop Beatmix 2) and would sit for hours at a time to practise, learn from YouTube tutorials and watch sets of DJs that I admired- sometimes rewatching the same mix over and over to understand how they did it. A few of my friends DJed and so I knew most of the venue owners/managers in the town in Portugal where I was living because of that. Not long after I got my Controller, one of the Owners asked if I would play in their bar that weekend. I had around a week to prepare and every day I would rush home from working at the Surf School to practise my set.
The day of the gig came and- as if I wasn’t anxious enough already- my laptop DIED. I had to borrow a friend’s car to drive to the nearest big town (Baleal is a little surf town) to go and buy a new laptop. Serato was still analyzing the tracks when I arrived at the venue to perform that evening. All of my playlists had been wiped so I literally had a piece of paper with some of the tracks that I had selected written on it. It started off quietly but the night soon built up and got so busy. Two hours into my 4 hour set the venue was absolutely packed and people were spilling out into the car park. There was sweat dripping off the walls and my cheat sheet was nowhere to be seen, but I didn’t care! It was so much fun. The energy was absolutely amazing despite some undoubtedly dodgy mixing. There was a stag party of guys who all turned out to be DJs (I later performed with them at different events) and they asked if I was new to DJing after watching me for a bit. After I told them it was my first ever performance they were so supportive and really kindly pointed out a few things throughout the night which really helped.
After that first gig I knew that I was meant to be a DJ and it all just snowballed from there! I got booked to play at the Beach Bars and Surf Camps in my first summer and as word spread, I played in different places around Portugal. After that I got my first DJ Residency in an Apres Ski bar in Austria and everything just kept growing from there!
Q: Which countries have you Dj’ed in?
A: Portugal, Austria, Spain (Ibiza), Monaco, UK, France, Turkey & Sweden. I think that’s all of them but I could be forgetting a few…
Q: Where have you had DJ Residencies?
A: My first residency was at the Salven Stadl in Austria. It was a really cool Apres Ski bar at the bottom of the mountain so I used to ride there, put my snowboard in the corner of the DJ box and then play for Apres. I’d then have a break to have dinner and get changed before DJing again later in the evening. I learned so much through that experience- mostly how to use a microphone! The previous resident DJ had been there for years and built a huge rapport with the regulars; telling jokes, spreading gossip and making announcements. I had to try to do the same but it wasn’t easy as they were big shoes to fill. There was also live music so I used to help with the MCing and Lights for that. In Portugal it was all about the Music whereas in Austria I had to do everything and play Open Format (not House) so, again, that was a big challenge.
My next (and longest) residency has been at Dick’s Tea Bar in the Ski Resort of Val d’Isere. DTB is world famous and referred to widely as ‘The Best Nightclub in the Alps’. It has been open every winter for around for 40 years and I’m really proud to be the first female Resident DJ in the history of the club. In my first season in Val, I was working as the Manager of a Health Food Cafe but sometimes DJing in the evenings. I got to know one of the DJs from Dick’s and part way through the season he asked if I could cover some of the Warm Up Sets at the club. I was so excited to get the opportunity to play there and by the end of the season I was playing in the Main Room and Headlined the closing party. I love that Dick’s Tea Bar is where everyone from Chalet Hosts, to Locals, to Holidaymakers, to Celebs, all just mix and party together! It’s always a good night there. Last season I was the Artistic Director as well as Head Resident DJ, so I was responsible for Booking the guest DJs & Performers as well as organising the creative side of the Events, all of the Marketing and looking after all of the equipment.
Last summer  I was the Resident DJ at Flora near Annecy in France. It’s a lovely venue by the lake and we used to do Pool Parties at the weekend.
Q: What is your craziest story?
A: It was Christmas Eve and my first year as the Head Resident DJ at Dick’s Tea Bar in Val d’Isere. About half way through the night one of the Waitresses came over to the DJ box and said that Martin Garrix & his family were on one of the tables. I had heard that he was on holiday in the resort but was excited nonetheless- we were performing to DJ Royalty.
Not much later, two guys approached the booth. One had his hood up and gestured for me to go over. It was Martin. He cheekily asked if he could play and my response was… “OF COURSE”! He didn’t have any USBs with him so used the ones already plugged into the decks. His energy was absolutely amazing and at one point he even turned around to ask if he was doing ok. After a while he went back to his table and I joined them later for a few drinks. He and his family were so lovely. It was probably the best Christmas present I’ve ever had!
Q: When did something go wrong?
A: Powercuts! They happen quite often- particularly in Beach Bars because the salt water degrades the electronics and equipment. The power supplies are normally not the best either. You just have to stay calm and wait for the power to come back on. When you equipment has restarted, skip forward to a drop or high energy point in the song- don’t start it from the beginning. You want to try to maintain the energy levels that you had before the power went out! Don’t get angry or have a diva moment, just get on with it.
Q: Have you ever done radio?
A: I’ve had two radio shows. One was on Radio Val d’Isere in France and I hosted that with Jim from Planks Clothing and Caitlin who own the Echo Magazine. That was just in the winter season and we would do a specialist music show on a Sunday.
I’ve also been a Radio Host on Select Radio which is the UK’s Number 1 Dance Music Radio station. Other Hosts include Mark Knight, Franky Rizardo, Claptone, Nora en Pure and Joshua Roberts who is the Head of Programming there and who I thank for the opportunity! Joshua is such a talented DJ, Radio Host & Musician so huge respect to him!
On Select, I used to completely produce the Radio show myself using my DJ Controller, Microphone and Laptop from wherever I was in the world- I was travelling a lot at the time I had the show. I really enjoyed doing it and learned so much about production & radio but it took so much time to make each show and when my DJ Controller completely stopped working- so I couldn’t make any shows (until I got a new one)- I took that as a sign that I should call it a day. Joshua has said that I’m welcome to do a show again any time but so far I haven’t had the time to be able to commit to it!
Q: What is your favourite place to DJ?
A: That’s a really difficult question. For nostalgia it has to be the Beach Bars in Portugal! That’s where I started out and I absolutely love going back there. There’s always such a good vibe in Baleal.
In the last few years Dick’s Tea Bar has been my favourite though- lucky considering I spent so much time there! In my opinion it’s the best Ski Resort and the best Nightclub in the Alps.
Q: B2B or Solo?
A: Solo is easier because you can fully control the direction/energy of the music. B2B is so much fun, though, because you share the energy of performing and it’s always good to watch and learn from the other DJ. Sometimes it can be a bit awkward when figuring out who is mixing the next track- whether it’s one-for-one, two-for-two or go with the flow… Another thing that can be a bit of a challenge with B2B is if the other DJ uses different settings from you. For example, if they have the headphone volume turned right up you’ll get your ears blasted everytime you swap (unless you remember to turn it down every time). If they use the Cross Fader and you don’t is another example. They’re only small details though and would not make me think twice about DJing B2B with someone suitable.
Q. What advice would you give to beginners?
A. Practise, practise, practise. Having the technical skills will help you in the moments when you need it the most and you’ll be grateful for knowing them. Explore different genres as you’ll learn different techniques from mixing them. It will also help you for your first gigs as you’ll probably be booked to play music that isn’t necessarily fitting with your ideal genre for your brand. Everyone goes through this stage and it just makes you a stronger DJ.
Q: Where can I listen to your mixes?
A: YouTube often blocks mixes that use signed music and I’ve had some of my mixse claimed against in the past. I stopped posting them on YouTube because I didn’t want my account to get blocked! For that reason, I post everything on my Soundcloud.
Q: What else are you going to be talking about in your DJ Series?
I have so many ideas for this series! Some of the things I’m going to be talking about include:
• Crowd reading and planning the energy of your set
• Gig etiquette and performing with musicians
• Where I find new music (including how much it costs and where to find ‘free’ music)
• Do’s and Don’ts of drinking while performing
• How to make an epic EPK so that you stand out and get booked
• DJing 101 - The Basics and How to Get Started
• The path to being a successful DJ
• Staying healthy while on tour
• How I organise my music library (over 10k tracks) and prepping it for performances
• What to do when sh*t hits the fan
• Resident DJ vs Guest DJ
• Creating your DJ Brand & Marketing yourself
And much more!
Let me know if there are any subjects that you’d like me to cover and I’ll be sure to include them in the series!