A Zouk res­i­dent DJ spills on life be­hind the decks

What’s it really like be­ing a res­i­dent DJ at one of the best night­clubs in the world? Zouk’s Zushan lets in on his hang-ups, the days (and nights) he lives for… and those girls be­hind the con­soles.

Time Out Singapore - - The Hot List - Com­piled by Sofi­ana ofi­ana Ramli and Re­becca Liew time­outsin­ga­pore.com/mu­sic utsin­ga­pore.com/mu­sic

EV­ERY­ONE AS­SUMES DJs get the girls, but I never did. When I started out as a hip hop and bat­tle DJ, in 2006, all I wanted was to stay at home and scratch discs. There are too many mis­con­cep­tions about life as a DJ – the booze, the sex, the fame. It’s much more than that.

Started from the bot­tom

Be­ing a DJ is a craft that’s con­stantly put to the test. You can’t please ev­ery­one, so my goal is to en­ter­tain the crowd that stands be­fore me – hip hop will al­ways be in my roots, but play­ing ‘EDM’ no longer both­ers me. Why? Well, when I won a Pi­o­neer Bat­tle DJ com­pe­ti­tion in 2012, I played a cel­e­bra­tory set at But­ter Fac­tory. Only four peo­ple turned up on the dance­floor. Sure, I worked the set the way I wanted, but now I’d rather play some­thing that ev­ery­one wants to hear.

When I joined Zouk, in 2014, spin­ning Vel­vet Un­der­ground nights ex­panded my mu­si­cal pal­ette. It was re­fresh­ing to push dif­fer­ent sounds like disco, tribal, house, reg­gae and dub­step. But Zouk’s still a busi­ness, and I need to draw the crowds. And with that comes the more com­mer­cial tracks. It’s not easy stay­ing true to your iden­tity as a mu­sic maker, yet that’s the key to brand­ing your­self. (And, yes, suc­cess.)

Play­ing the game

I saw other DJs get­ting fea­tures in mag­a­zines, bring­ing in

big­ger crowds, amass­ing more fol­low­ers and likes on so­cial me­dia. So fo­cus­ing on mu­sic will only take you so far. Some DJs know the bare ba­sics of their craft, but are great at mar­ket­ing them­selves, which I used to strug­gle with.

It took me a good two-and-ahalf years to come to peace with the way things are. Be­ing on the radar boils down to dis­ci­pline: put­ting out mixes and so­cial me­dia posts – or any­thing to re­mind your fans you’re still around – more fre­quently. Even things like mer­chan­dise re­mind them of your brand.

I also be­gan branch­ing out, learn­ing to be com­fort­able around peo­ple, and fre­quented Tan­jong Beach Club to ex­pand my so­cial cir­cle in the scene. I even picked up jiu-jitsu. Once, a 14-year-old boy de­stroyed me in a friendly round. Things like this keep me in check.

Girls, girls, girls

From front play­ers like Martin Gar­rix and Hard­well to god­fa­thers like Carl Cox and Sven Väth, be­ing a DJ’s really about con­nect­ing the dots and find­ing what fits. I now man­age book­ings for Zouk, mean­ing I spend less time be­hind the decks, but that iron­i­cally has reignited my pas­sion for mu­sic. Be­ing up there spin­ning mixes, con­fetti gun aimed at the cheer­ing crowd be­fore me, are just a few re­minders I’m in this for the right rea­sons.

And now, for what ev­ery­one wants to know: just who are the girls be­hind the con­soles at Zouk? First thing’s first: they’re not our girl­friends or groupies. Some of them are bold enough to ask to use the con­sole, and if no one’s there, I might let them, as long as they don’t an­noy the heck out of me. Al­though, what hap­pens more of­ten is a ran­dom per­son invit­ing her­self up. Years ago, a girl hauled her­self be­side me, puked on my con­sole, then upon re­al­is­ing I had spot­ted her, stum­bled back down and ran off. True story. à Zushan spins at Phuture ev­ery two months and on se­lect nights at Cap­i­tal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Singapore

© PressReader. All rights reserved.