This post is also available in: Nederlands (Dutch)
In 2015 I had a chat with Dutch Werner Charmes a.k.a. DJ Charmes (formerly Lucky Charmes) about his first gig. After having participated in a few DJ battles he wasn't too nervous. "I did feel a kind of healthy tension."
“My first real gig was at The Palace in Groningen. I was eighteen years old. I was allowed to perform as a result of my participation in several DJ battles throughout the Netherlands that I had won earlier that year. I was immediately allowed to play a two-hour set and was presented as a new upcoming Dutch DJ talent.”
“I was a bit nervous, but I had already been in hairier situations during battles and I had won all those matches. That definitely helped my confidence. That does not alter the fact that this was suddenly a set of two whole hours. So, I did feel a kind of healthy tension. My job was to keep people on the dance floor for two hours and give them a crazy time. Fortunately, I was programmed prime time on the line-up that evening. Also, The Palace was sold out and it all worked out fine.”
“The audience consisted mainly of friends and girlfriends. In addition, all DJs from the preliminary rounds of the battles were present. The event was also linked to a club night, which usually attracted full houses. Musically, I mixed everything up at the time, from house to urban and from classics to dancehall (eclectic).”
“I already knew two months before the gig that I would play there, and I practiced my set to perfection. On the evening itself, a completely different set came out.” (laughs) “I did have a common theme in my head, and I knew roughly which way I wanted to go. That helped with the nervousness.”
“I received a lot of support from local fellow DJs and friends. They all thought it was great that I could perform here. My parents were also very proud. I didn’t have a driver’s license at that time, so they regularly brought and picked me up when I participated once more in such a battle. They experienced my DJing up close.”
“I didn’t have just one mentor, but several. Because I was so busy with battles during that period, I had to learn a lot of tricks related to spinning: scratching, back spinning, juggling, etc. I had all imported videos from the United States to study skills of other DJs. My heroes were DJ Roc Raida, DJ Craze, A-Trak and Q-bert. From Dutch soil, DJ Chainsaw was one of the DJs who inspired me enormously. The real playing, I taught myself. Also by copying a lot, of course. I didn’t have a teacher like I am now for a number of novice DJs.”
“At that time there were a lot of girlfriends who thought it was super cool what I did. I used that occasionally. Or was it abuse?” (laughs) “Oh well, you’re eighteen and you want something from life. The girlfriends followed each other in rapid succession during that period.”
“The set at that first big gig went great! I couldn’t have wished for a better DJ debut. Admittedly, I was of course also in a sold-out Palace at the best time of the evening, but well, something can always go wrong. At least I didn’t make any horrible mistakes. I do remember that I was shaking a bit when I put on the first record. At the time, of course, I still played with vinyl, because CDJs did not exist yet. Once the first transition went well, the rest of the set went flawless as well!”
“After that I was regularly invited again to come and play at The Palace. Then I started playing in clubs more and left the DJ battle world behind me. At that time my love for house music also started. That’s what I’m focusing on to this day. All in all, that first gig was one to remember. I remember it like it was yesterday!”
This interview with Charmes is originally published in August 2015 on DJMag.nl.