Turntables and timetables: how student DJs work their craft

Róisín Phelan

Student DJs are taking Dublin by storm. With dedication and a love for the craft, some of these students are drawing impressive crowds and making a serious name for themselves. One of the hardest things that young DJs’ face is trying to get established. Improvement comes with experience, but experience can often be difficult to come by.

Many young DJs start to gain momentum when they begin attending college. DCU is home to several examples of DJs that have used college as an opportunity to further their music.

Even still, establishing and developing a brand, getting hired for gigs and earning a profit requires investment in a lot of time.

Rossa Doherty is a first-year student at DCU and an up and coming DJ. In just eight months of living in Dublin he has played at Everleigh, Wah Wah Club and the A+F ball.

When asked about his quick success Doherty said: “I’ve gotten really lucky, that’s my honest answer, I’ve gotten lucky with good contacts and my producing helps too I suppose”.

For student DJs balancing college work and their profession can be a challenge. “It’s been tough,” said Doherty.

Second year DCU students and members of the DJ collective RESET, Colin Feeney and Cian Charlton both said that DJing is their priority right now.

“I knew it would get in the way of a lot of things, especially college but it wasn’t even a decision for me, I was still going for it no matter what,” said Feeney.

“DJing over college any day,” said Charlton.

RESET has had enviable success and are soon to play at Hangar and The Button Factory with PAWSA. Charlton and Feeney credit the support of their friends and fellow DCU students for helping them achieve this success.

“It’s so nice to have the support in our college and without it RESET would never have taken off the way it has,” said Charlton.

RESET utilise social media massively when it comes to promoting their events, but they said it is “word of mouth” that gets the word around most effectively.

This seems to be a reoccurring trend in the promotion of successful events. “We want people saying, ‘come on lads RESET tonight, it’ll be fun’ not just posting it on social media,” said Charlton.

DCU’s DJ Society contains some of the colleges most talented DJs. Chairperson of the society Andrew Colgan has been a member since 2015.

Colgan said that he has seen an increase in “active members” since he has joined.

This year, many of these active members took part in several DCU events. Colgan said this was because of the inclusion of electronic music in such events as the hugely successful ‘MiSoc’ event ‘Bets n’ Boogies’ in February and again, the A+F Ball.

Overall it seems that student DJs, particularly in DCU, are making waves in Dublin, due to their innovative promotion, hard work and the support of other students and college groups.