01/05/2014 14:16 BST | Updated 01/07/2014 06:59 BST

Scratch Academy!


Spending three weeks in NYC has inspired a lot of new ideas and most importantly given me the opportunity to learn a new skill that I have been very interested in for quite some time, DJing.

I've often stood next to my biggest DJ inspirations at festivals, clubs, fashion events, and Arena gigs wishing I had the skills to do the same. Since I couldn't run the decks - I would just dance instead.

The ability to create a vibe for an entire room to dance and let go is such an incredible way to connect with music and share your connection with other people. In particular the ability to build and mix a playlist to extreme heights and then drop a beat and see the whole crowd go nuts is just amazing.

I've always been nervous about learning because, to be honest, I'm not very good at not being good at something and to learn a new skill is a guaranteed - you're going to suck at first.... Argh!!

But, I was lucky enough to train at the Scratch Academy while I was in New York City. Jam Master Jay of Run DMC founded the Scratch Academy in 2002. Go here for more information. It's a fantastic facility that teaches everyday people, students, college students, and even kids the ins and outs of mixing and scratching.

DJ Esquire taught me using the CDJ-2000s and a Pioneer mixer along with my Monster headphones. Understanding what goes into making a set before you even play the music helped the new 'instrument' make sense to me. It finally made the decks seem a lot less scary and gave me a much better understanding of how to create a set.

Coming from a dancer's point of view, I had to change my entire relationship with music. Understand how to beat match, mix, set cues and find songs that match keys or vibe as well as finding clever ways to mix from a house song to hip-hop, which are very different BPMs/vibes which make it a bit more difficult. Ultimately finding ways to smash a set! As a dancer you pick a song you connect with or a set that says something to you and you make it work. As a DJ this process has to be much more seamless - you are the audio puppeteer and there is no visual besides me getting lost in the music at the decks of course!

I have a pretty eclectic taste in music. From commercial to house, rap, drum 'n' bass, dubstep, hip-hop... I pretty much love it all! I don't spend every night in a club so to find inspiration for my sets I take my playlist to the gym and play the chosen songs while doing cardio on the treadmill, elliptical, or cycle, and while doing circuit training and see what sort of mix would take me from a warm up to an intensity that would make a difference. Plus it gives me a chance to see what songs I want and what songs I'm skipping through. The gym/movement of the body is how I connect to music the best. I feel it.

Shazam has been a great tool. It gives me the opportunity to research while I'm on the go. So like I said before - my entire relationship with music has changed as every time I see a DJ playing at an event I study - when I hear songs I'm thinking about my sets - when I work out I'm critiquing - I'm constantly on DJ Alert!

Watch out... cause I'm now inspired, passionate, and excited! The only difference is that I count music and bars like a dancer, 5,6,7,8 instead of 1,2,3,4... that's just not going to change!

My course has given me the skills and the confidence necessary to play the decks like an instrument! Thank you to Scratch Academy and to DJ Esquire!


DJ Esquire and Me after I Certified at the Scratch Academy!