During A levels, I started spending my Saturday afternoons browsing music in the nearest record store and at the local Woolworths. My big brother encouraged me to mess around on his record decks when I visited him at uni in London. DJing is one part of my diverse career and I wonder if it helped to grow my confidence for a number of reasons…
Music is great for your wellbeing…Music is something we can all access. It’s good for our soul and I chatted about this in an earlier blog post. In my teens, I loved that I could listen to lots of new and old music. I’d head home early from the pub to catch my favourite show on MTV. Music became part of my identity like for most teenagers. I’m sure music boosted my confidence as I found something I really loved.
Practice, practice, practice…DJ-ing takes serious practice and you have to invest time in preparation. Preparing your set, preparing your record bag and then preparing your confidence before you arrive at the venue. I’m no DMC mixing champion but it’s still about putting the right tracks next to each other so your DJ set flowed nicely. The more I practiced, the more I felt confident about DJ-ing in front of different crowds. These days I know if I want to feel more confident about something, I need to start practising it.
Networking and spread the word about what you do…I didn’t have an agent like some of the female DJs at the time. I had to network to generate my own bookings. That meant I had to talk about myself despite being shy. I of course suffered from imposter syndrome knowing there were thousands of incredibly talented DJs out there.
Making people smile through music…When you play a tune that people love, it’s a great feeling. It was great for my confidence too. When you receive feedback on the tunes you’re playing or any kind of work you’re focussing on, it inspires you to keep doing what you’re doing. Feedback is a big source of confidence.
Be proud of your hard work…It was important to do a great job so you’d be considered for future bookings and recommendations for different events – just like many jobs out there. So from late teens I started networking and making more connections. It didn’t matter if I didn’t get booked for everything. Knowing I worked hard at something behind the scenes still boosts my confidence.
Leave any egos at home…Confidence isn’t about having a big ego. I’m sure people assume DJs must have big egos. DJs have to play for the crowd. So it’s not about them really but their audience. Feeling confident is also about caring about others.
DJing with your eyes…As well as keeping your eye on the decks, it’s also important to keep an eye on the crowd. How can you keep people happy on the dance floor? The more people who danced, the more confident I felt about playing music. DJing is also about being flexible and taught me to that it’s ok if things need to change in your plan.
Being open to the right opportunities…When I applied to go on a music mailing list for Relentless Records, they clocked on that I was a female DJ. I’d been DJing at University for a little while. That’s how the TV appearances came about. Who would have thought this shy geeky girl from the suburbs would end up appearing on Top of The Pops a few times?
Standing in front of 13,000 people…When asked to join Craig David and Artful Dodger at the Top of The Pops concert at Sheffield Arena, of course I said yes. I’d already appeared on Top of The Pops and CD:UK with them. We even did rehearsals for the performances. I was going out of my comfort zone as the crowd at Sheffield Arena would be the biggest group of people I’d stand in front of (ever). The Sheffield Arena performance would stretch my confidence.
I had butterflies right before we went on stage. You could hear the noise of the arena’s crowd and it was immense. It helped that we had a rehearsal on the massive stage earlier that day – it really was huge. When the performance started I remember seeing the bright lights and then I could slowly see thousands of people in Sheffield Arena. Hearing Re-e-wind played on the radio always brings a smile. It reminds me of going outside of my comfort zone. To this day, I know it’s the big and small things that have helped me to grow my confidence.
Confidence takes time and sometimes years to build up doesn’t it? Which part of your career or work has helped to grow your confidence?
the #luckythingsletsdance nights for women
Music and dancing are still really important to me. That’s why I’ve started the Lucky Things Let’s Dance nights just for women in London. Not everyone wants to go dancing in massive clubs. Sometimes they just want to dance with like-minded people and to tunes that make them smile. Click here to find out forthcoming dates (tickets are currently available for the end of year special on Saturday 25 November 2017 – tickets for 7 October 2017 have sold out).