Contest on to find the best DJ
By Tamica Garnett
Always on the look out to find and support talent and youth, Digicel is now on the hunt for the most versatile amateur DJ – with the best juggling and mixing skills – in Guyana, and they are certain come August 26 they will find the lucky guy – or girl.
The “Bring the Beat” Amateur DJ Competition began last month and culminates later this month when the final five disc jockeys battle it out for the chance to win a Pioneer DJ Console and over $1 million in cash and prizes.
But this is Digicel, and we know that when Digicel is involved, it’s about more than just a competition – it’s about the opportunities, it’s about the people involved, and it’s about the youth. The competition is amateur one, opened only to aspiring DJs who have not yet made it on the “big stage”.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for young and upcoming DJs who are out there doing their stuff and have the necessary talent. This stage just set the lights for us to showcase to Guyana what we are capable of doing and I think this is the perfect opportunity for people like myself,” said King Keev, one of the more popular DJs in the competition.
“Bring the Beat” seeks to give the contestants as much exposure and experience as possible, whether they win the competition or not, and to help as many of them as possible to “get their foot in the door” of what has become a highly competitive industry in Guyana.
“It’s gotten tough now, I’ve been a DJ for like 37 years and it was easier that time. You find that it’s really tough now to find the exposure, to find jobs because there are DJs out there where they get all the jobs, the youngsters who are coming up now they will find it tough, unless somebody really hear you playing and they give you a chance.” said well-known local DJ Rocky Carew.
He too commended this project that Digicel has undertaken to provide an opportunity to those waiting for their big break.
“It’s a real good initiative that Digicel has put forward for youngsters who are not up there as yet with the professionals.
“The thing about it is that is good for them to have the chance to expose themselves in front of people, in front of a crowd, on social media, getting the big-ups. They’re getting a chance to present themselves on the stage,” Carew noted.
The competition is helping to promote the contestants not only on social media but on the radio as well. Perhaps earlier this week you caught King Keev and Selector Yannick shelling it down on 100.1FM.
“Apart from the DJ Competition, we want to get them to play outdoors. They’re going to start going and playing on the radio, on the programmes, spend some time in the studio and learn how to mix music for a radio station.
“We want to get them into clubs so that they can get an experience on mixing music for patrons there. We just want them to go in there and get that first-hand experience,” explained Ramesh Roopchand, Advertising Manager for Digicel.
Over 100 persons applied to be a part of the competition, with the contestants coming from all across Guyana, entering for all different reasons, DJ Fluffy contestant #101 did it because he “loves music, it’s a passion”. He is among those in the final 15.
Another of the final fifteen is Mix Master Toney contestant #8, who was reluctant at first to enter the competition but then decided to go for it when he realized how much just being a part of the competition would help his career.
“I started thinking about the linkages and the exposure that I can get from this so I only then started thinking of it as not only a competition but as a stepping stone to being out there as not only a DJ but as well-respected one at that,” he remarked.
Winseena Welcome – or DJ Winnie – is one of only two girls who entered the competition, and now she’s the only one remaining, as things wind down.
Talking about what it feels like being a part of the competition she said: “It means the world to me. And being a female defying stereotypes and breaking traditions makes it even more exciting, being the only female among the males and standing out!”
The competition got underway with the first audition on July 25 at Pegasus Hotel where all the applicants were invited to play before a panel of judges that included DJ Ogawe Hinds, called DJ Garwin; businessman Ravi Persaud; Digicel Head of Marketing, Jacqueline James; as well as Rocky.
From that initial number only 25 persons made it past that first round, and now things are down to the final ten, following another two rounds of competition. Five contestants are eliminated each successive week, with a new competition every week.
And the fate of that lucky finalist will depend a lot on just how much he can impress the Guyanese public. After all, being a DJ is all about being able to keep the crowd jumping. But impressing the Guyanese public is no easy task because we all know just how brutally honest judges us Guyanese love to be.
At every week’s elimination round, the contestants have to play before a crowd, and just how pleased the crowd is plays a heavy role in whether they will be moving on to the next round or not.
“Crowd response is number one. The key now is that it’s not just us anymore; it’s basically the crowd to vote for them.
“We are going to have judges at each one of the locations, but the judges are going to make sure that they don’t come with their music premixed and all of those things, and listen to their mixing skills.
“But majority of the vote would be dependent on the crowd response… that’s how we are going to eliminate them; the crowd is going to evaluate them,” Roopchand stated.
“It’s not just that they’re going to be behind a console and mix; they have to build crowd hype and those things. Like you would look at an EDM party and you would see the DJ hyping up the crowd; it’s that sort of energy we’re looking for,” he said.
At each performance the contestants are given five minutes to put together a mix that will get the crowd pumped up and glad they came.
But it doesn’t end there. The competition seeks to truly test just how adaptable these contestants can be. With each competition, the DJs are restricted to three genres from which they can select their music, usually with a twist in it.
“It’s not just that they will come, play dancehall, hype up the party and then go home.
“Every week they have three difficult genres to mix. Like for example in Berbice, it was dancehall, Bollywood and Afro Beat.
“So like Afro beat and dancehall would go together, but mixing in Bollywood in there is making it a bit difficult. So we advise them on what music they will be playing so that they get time to prepare and every DJ needed to go home and practice, and get there mixes together,” added Roopchand.
Each week, the contestants’ respective performances and crowd response are combined with the votes that they receive via text messages and social media “likes” and then the bottom five are eliminated.
Right now the competition is down to its final 10 following another elimination round last Friday night in Bartica.
Lindeners can look out for the deejays this Friday, when the competition hits the Linden Bus Park Tarmac.
“As we come down to the finals it’s going to get more and more difficult. “That will be when the big boys come out to play, because every man will have to show themselves.
“The finals will be more freestyle, where they will get to play how they want to.”