DJ Phil, a Brief Career Introspective – The Early Years (Part One)

Since I’m a DJ and (obviously) one of my greatest passions in life is music, I reckon that the time’s long overdue for me to start up a music blog, something covering both my thoughts and memories about music AND copious reviews of albums and specific music that I’m a fan of. Given that I’m a big fan of older music, I think that this rather retro, colourful theme suits the mood of my new blog perfectly. If it blinds anyone, just stick on the old sunglasses. 🙂

But before I start posting any music reviews, I’m going to make a few introductory posts detailing my own personal music history, both as a fan and as a DJ. To set the ball rolling, here’s the first part of a short history of how I first started out as a DJ in my home town of Derry, Northern Ireland, and how my career has progressed (or not) up until the present day.

Well, I’ve been a DJ for a long, long time. Somewhere around thirty-two, maybe thirty-three years. I’m pretty sure that I started sometime in 1980, maybe early-1981 (I was nineteen or twenty years old at the time), although I can’t recall the exact date of my first gig, which is now lost somewhere in the mists of time. I know it was backing some local band or another. Most other young local DJs tended to start off helping out more experienced, more established DJs at discos, playing the start of shows before the main DJ took over. Me, I had to be different. I started off backing local alternative and rock bands at gigs.

Back in those days, I was heavily into the alternative and rock music (both hard and classic) scenes, a much bigger fan of those types of music than of more commercial pop music, and I had (still have) an enormous collection of that type of music on vinyl, both singles and LPs. In these early days, I always stayed the hell away from the safe option of playing any Top 30 chart hits at gigs, unless absolutely necessary (and I mean ABSOLUTELY necessary, like someone-has-a-gun-to-my-head necessary), and I very quickly started to gain a reputation for playing more adventurous, non-mainstream music at gigs, which of course began attracting those audiences with less commercial tastes in music. Pretty soon I had a nice little following.

Luckily for me the local alternative and rock scenes in my hometown were buzzing back in those days, and work was plentiful, if a bit sporadic. Within a few months, I was a regular feature, playing as backup DJ with local bands, almost always punk rock, New Wave and hard rock bands. This led me, shortly after that, to start spreading my wings a bit, breaking away from backing up groups on the band scene and playing my first solo discos.

All of these early solo gigs were one-off rock and alternative nights, most of them 21st birthday parties or something similar for friends who just happened to be rockers or punks, as those were the kind of people that I hung out with. It was a great thing being able to play only the kind of music that I really liked, for people in my own social circles, who liked exactly the same kind of music. 🙂

But even back in those earliest days, I was starting to realize that if I wanted to actually get regular work, to become really successful as a DJ on the local scene, I’d have to start gigging outside of my comfort zones, at more commercial music discos. Which brings me to my first regular gig as a DJ…

To Be Continued…