/ Thu 22nd Jul 2010 09:34 am
Ever seen a DJ performing to thousands of people, producing massive pop artists and getting ridiculous amounts of YouTube views and thought; “How did they manage that? My tunes are way better!”
Well give your bruised ego a hug, then check out 5 choice rises to fame of some of the world’s top DJs and see if you can learn something…
Arguably the most famous DJ in the world, Tiesto has one hell of a story to tell…
He started out DJing professionally at age 14 at school parties, then proceeded to become a resident DJ at several Netherlands clubs, refining his DJing ability.
He began producing and releasing material on “Noculan Records”‘ sub labels, nothing like he makes now – hardcore and gabber tracks were the order of the day, and he was known as “Da Joker”. I guess that was his rebellious phase.
After being discovered by the manager of “Basic Beat Recordings”, he was signed in 1994 and released a bunch of records, beginning to veer towards trance. In 1997, however, he left and made a label called “Black Hole Recordings”. Creating the “Magik” series amongst other things funded his continuing rise to success.
In 1999 he made a trance duo called “Gouryella”, which was massively successful. Trance was huge at the time and he played some massive shows, such as the renowned “Gatecrasher” in Sheffield on a monthly basis.
It was in 2000 that he went solo and released his remix of Delerium’s “Silence”. This charted well and he made his own label “Magik Muzik”. He proceeded to release several major charting hits on it from his first solo album “In My Memory” over the next few years.
2004 saw the release of “Just Be” and his fame grew – being the only DJ to sell out an arena on his own. He played one of the biggest gigs ever – the olympic games opening ceremony, for 90 minutes and he released several new tracks on an album “Parade of the Athletes”.
Releasing more compilations, touring around the world, winning countless #1 DJ polls and making several more albums has brought him to his current status.
Lesson to be Learned: Making your own label, even if you’re already signed, can be a great way to take control of your career.
Starting out in Australia as a rock band called Xygen, Rob Swire and Gareth McGrillen decided to turn to Drum and Bass after hearing Konflict’s “Messiah”.
In 2002, Pendulum was formed between the duo and Paul Harding, a veteran Perth DJ. After releasing “Vault” on 31 records, an underground anthem, they made several more tracks and eventually two legendary DJs Adam F and DJ Fresh asked them to join their new label “Breakbeat kaos”. In 2003, they followed their dream to the DnB capital of the world and moved to the UK to join the label.
After a #1 on the UK Dance Chart on this label, they released “Hold Your Colour” – this sold over 300,000 copies and they soon began playing live with a full band – the first popular DnB act to do so.
Continuing to combine their eclectic influences of Drum and Bass, Rock and Pop, they released “In Silico”, which, while alienating some of their core DnB fan base, brought them massive success, hitting #2 in the album charts.
Playing ridiculous amounts of festivals, releasing another album “Immersion” and Rob Swire co-producing for Rihanna (Rude Boy went straight to number 1), they’ve just continued growing and growing.
Lesson to be Learned: Follow your music no matter what – if Pendulum didn’t move to the UK, they might never have achieved all this!
For someone who doesn’t want to be known as a DJ, Deadmau5 is a pretty famous DJ.
After learning to produce chiptune music as a young Canadian kid, Joel Zimmerman proceeded to grow up into a web and software developer. Creating several pieces of pioneering computer music software and thoroughly immersed himself in the technical side of music production.
His personal music creation took a back-seat. It was only when he released a track on beatport.com as a joke with a friend and it reached number 1 that he knew he had things the wrong way around.
After his friend had to go home he created a track called “Faxing Berlin” under the moniker “Deadmau5″ – the same name as his web development company (he once found a dead mouse in his computer and was inspired). He sent it to DJ Chris Lake, who sent it to Pete Tong, who played it on Radio One in England. Blam – massive hit.
Donning a large mouse helmet for his image, he was an immediate internet sensation. He made several more hits and proceeded to learn how to perform live.
Performing at massive venues and working with Rob Swire of Pendulum are just the start of his career.
Lesson to be Learned: Knowing your software inside out results in quality production and it’s always worth releasing random songs; jokes or not, they might hit it big!
So how did a young French entrepreneur grow into a world-class superstar? Let’s take a quick look…
At 17, he began DJing at a club in Paris, then after discovering house music, he decided to host his own club nights one year later.
in 1992, a few years later, Guetta had his first lucky break – at one of Guetta’s club nights he met Robert Owens, a Chicago-based house artist. After playing Owens some of his own tracks, Owens agreed to sing over one of the tracks, which became a minor club hit.
He proceeded to become the manager of “Le Palace” nightclub and organised more and more parties. Eventually, in 2001 (Yeah, it took a while), he founded “Gum Productions” with Joachim Garraud. His debut album, released on Virgin Records, sold 300,000 copies.
However, his real breaks started in 2004 with his album “Guetta Blaster”. Tracks such as “The world is mine” and “Walking away” charted well, the latter appearing on a popular car TV advert and getting massive attention as a result.
2007 dawned with his album “Pop life” – after playing all over the world to promote it, he and his wife organised a show back home in France with Tiesto and Carl Cox amongst others. He must love his event management!
2009 brought his 4th album, “One love”, which contained the track “Sexy Bitch” with Akon amongst others – around this time he also produced Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” which was a massive number 1.
Now he’s working on productions with Akon, J. Lo, Rihanna and is even rumoured to be producing with Lady Gaga.
Lesson to be Learned: Take things into your own hands – by putting on his own club nights, he was able to perform to loads of people and talk to all the famous faces that popped in.
For a relatively new producer to the scene on a relatively new genre, Chris Mercer aka Rusko has done alright for himself.
Pioneering an upbeat, danceable type of Dubstep in 2006 on the label Sub Soldiers, he’s gone from strength to strength. His more mainstream-friendly approach to the stereotypically underground genre has brought a plethora of popular artists asking for his production. Who you ask? Oh, only Rihanna, T.I. and he’s currently working on a track for Britney Spears.
Lesson to be Learned: Try taking an underground genre and make it more listenable to the masses.
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