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In 2016 I kept on running into Decoded Magazine journalist Damion Pell on festivals and at parties. As we got to know each other better, I found out that Damion is also a producer and DJ. It goes without saying that I then interviewed him about his first gig. "“Was I nervous? Hell yeah!"
“You know, I have been racking my brain to remember the name of the club, but it was in some crappy basement on North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia. I think it was called something like ‘Basement’.”
“Yeah, we had some pretty imaginative names for clubs back in the early 90’s.” (laughs) “I must have been around 18 years old and it would have been one of my first paid gigs, I know that much. To even get paid for it was a real bonus.”
“I recall going back many years later to the club and not much had changed. Except, it had been turned into a strip club, so it now had a pole on the dance-floor. Classy, I know.”
“Was I nervous? Hell yeah! I still get nervous before some gigs now. But it’s safe to say, being 18, I had a bit of a cocky attitude around my mates and pretended that I was doing great. In reality, was shitting myself.”
“It was on a Thursday night. This implied a crowd that came to hear hardcore, which I played at the time. So, in my hazy memory, I am sure there was some old rave clothing going on.”
“Did I practice the set at home? Hard to recall, but I would have to say I must have practiced for hours on end for it, actually. My days back then consisted of playing for hours and hours in my bedroom. I wish I had that luxury these days of locking myself in a room and dusting off the vinyl again.”
“We didn’t have mentors back then. We all really just used to get together at a mate’s place on weekends. I’d bring over my decks and we’d sift through crates and crates of vinyl, all trying to out-do each other all night. On the night of my gig, I had a good group of mates with me. We were all pretty inseparable back then and mates would always support my gigs. Did I care about impressing girls? I think I was too busy focusing on the gig rather than the girls that night.” (laugsh)
“In the end that performance went terrible, from what I remember. That’s actually something I keep in the back of my mind these days before I’m playing somewhere. I always make sure I’m prepared and to not take playing for granted. It’s an honor to DJ, not a right. So, I don’t have an attitude, I just try to be as professional as possible.”
“After that night in the basement I was a little disappointed in myself. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to being on stage. My mates assured me and said it was great, but that’s what good friends are for, right?”
“I probably made mistakes more than I remember but I am sure plenty of DJs mess up their first time or walked off stage not feeling 100% about how it went.”
“I am still learning every day and honing my skills, even after 20+ years of playing. It’s a never-ending cycle and what makes DJing so brilliant, that self-aware journey, exploring new ways and of course the music!”
“The time of playing or listening to anything about 125 BPM is far in the past by now I still perform a lot, in the UK but also in the rest of Europe. Besides that, I play on a regular basis during radio shows or in the studio together with my production partner Alex Preda. Under the alias Pell & Preda we produce techno and progressive house for the label Stripped Digital and EJ Underground.”
This article is originally published on DJMag.nl on June 2nd 2016.