How To : Become an International DJ

Find out about the role of a International DJ from Jarren

DJ’s help keep an artists’ music ticking and provide entertainment at music shows. We spoke to Jarren, an international DJ who has performed for artists like Beyonce, Kelly Rowland and Leonardo Di Caprio about the role of an international celebrity DJ.

How did you start out as a DJ?

I had been a bedroom DJ throughout my teens. Around 2002 I went on a UK club tour with my friend DJ Trevor Nelson. I joined him on the tour just to hang out and party, but by the end of the tour I had done a couple of warmups for him. It was then that I made a conscious decision to pursue it properly when I got back to London. Trevor gave me that first break, it was then up to me to take that opportunity and run with it!

How do you go about securing a regular gig?

I think it’s very different securing a regular gig when you’re first starting out. I have 15 years behind me and have created an amazing network of friends and associates around me. You have to be prepared to play for next to nothing when you’re starting out, just to prove what you can do and establish yourself.

Think about where you want to place yourself in the industry. Do you want to play local clubs, West End clubs, bars, festivals or tour as a DJ? What genre of music do you want to play? It’s important to know so you can plan your journey. The key to getting gigs for me is having a great network and of course doing a great job.

You also consult for some amazing brands like MTV, Moschino and Sony Music. What does that entail? How did they come about?

Consulting is basically giving a brand access to my musical knowledge and vision. I’m a very visual person, so I find it easy to match music with film, fashion, spaces and products. Whether that means creating a musical journey for Betty Jacksons fashion week collection on the catwalk, or MTV Snoop Dog’s Diary. The opportunity for this kind of work comes from recommendation and a professional reputation.

What’s the best thing about your job?

There’s two things I really love about my job as a DJ. Firstly, it’s the travelling! I have been fortunate enough to DJ all over the world, from Russia to South Africa, China to the Bahamas, Miami to Monaco.

The other thing I love about DJ’ing is that moment of having a party or club completely lit. Seeing people lose it and the spot going off lol. Its a great feeling for any DJ to be in that moment!

What’s the most challenging aspect of your role?

I think the most challenging thing for me is consistency – keeping my situation moving constantly. It’s easy to get into a root as a DJ and get lazy. It’s an ever developing industry, technology, music styles, clubs, scenes and audience. You have to challenge yourself. It keeps you fresh. It can also be very tiring with the late nights and trying to keep a routine – it takes a lot of discipline.

What are the three main skills you need to be a successful DJ?

I’m actually going to give you 4 of the most important skills (in no particular order).

1. Selection (your track choices).
2. Mixing (be super tight or don’t bother at all).
3. The ability to read the crowd.
4. Networking! I can’t stress enough how important a strong network is. The art of networking is an invaluable skill for those who can master it.

What piece of advice would you give someone who wants to become a professional DJ?

Practice, practice and then practice some more. Also, have a plan.

What’s your career highlight so far?

To be honest, there is no one particular moment – the whole of my DJ career has been a highlight.
So many instances where I have had to pinch myself. Whether djing on XFactor live with Usher, opening for Prince at the O2, T4 on the beach with Kelly Rowland to a crowd of 70,000 people live on TV. Or recently being flown out to Paris to DJ for Mick Jagger’s birthday party. I feel very fortunate and blessed for what DJing and music have brought me.

What is the one thing you know now that you wish you knew starting out?

Nothing really because the journey has unfolded perfectly for me. I feel I’ve always made the right choices….fortunately!

Interested in artist management? Here’s our chat with Nadine from Red Light Management, Or find out what Mae and Samantha had to say about being an organising creative industry events