NYC Electro

The Double Life of a DJ with a Corporate Job

Like many DJs, I have a day job that takes up too much time. The day job is fine and the DJ gigs that I get provide extra money for things like equipment and other fun things. This article is a brief snapshot in a day in the life of a DJ with a Corporate Job. Its a busy life! Click through to get the complete story, and pictures...

a DJ's split personality: 1/2 Corporate, 1/2 DJ, 1/2 Shark

Start me up
I work in advertising as an Art Director at a large global agency. If you have ever worked in advertising, you will know that the 9 to 5 is more like a "9 to 5", if you catch my drift. The 5pm out time is usually optional and you are lucky to get out by 7pm on a daily basis. That makes it difficult to plan and do gigs during the day (or night), even if its after work hours. From time to time, the work and DJ schedule conflict. Luckily, as far as Friday goes, my work is cool and they understand that I need to get out at a normal time on most friday nights. Anytime there is a week night gig, all bets are off, and this is where the story begins.

The game is afoot
It was thursday last week, and a job needed to be released on friday. That means that its going to be a late night at work. This always presents a problem, because Thursday can be a night where I get called to DJ, and this is exactly what happened. I got a last minute request to DJ a private function for the Atlantic Magazine. The event was from 7pm to 9pm, so I needed to be there from 6:30pm to at least 9:30pm. Usually, this is not really a problem, but because I got called for the gig on Thursday morning, it put me in a slight dilemma; how can I work late and DJ at the same time?

I informed my co-workers on what was going on, and then darted off to get my equipment during my lunch break. At home, I hastily packed for the gig, grabbed some food to go, and made it back to work in just under an hour, out of breath and ready to work. There was now only 4 hours to either finish the job at hand, or get it to a point where I could pass it off to someone else. Unfortunately, neither options were able to happen, so my timing had to be perfect.

You see, at my job, once my part is finished, it gets checked and passed around the office. If the document is big, like this one was, it can take up to 4 hours to go around before the document hits my desk again. If its night time, then that means a lot of waiting (or in this case, a window to do the gig).

6 minutes Color Fresh, your on:
I got the document off my desk in the nick of time, at 6:30pm. This gave me the magic window I needed to be at two places at once. Dashing out of work, I jumped into a rickshaw cab, and got biked to the gig. This guy was meant business, running lights, weaving in and out of traffic, he was making good time. I got to the gig and set up, just in the nick of time. There was one slight problem... in my hasty packing, I forgot my slip-mats! While searching around the DJ booth and I was able to find some bubble wrap. Yes, bubble wrap, to use as my slip-mats (the pics are below). Luckily, it worked just fine, the mats were slipping and popping along with the beats. I don't recommend it, but it works in a pinch.

I eventually calmed down and the gig went smooth, and at one point I thought to myself "I can't believe I get paid to do this" haha. The people at The Atlantic Magazine were pleased, I played a bit over my 2 hours, and they were sad to see me go. But I was not going home, I had to go strait back to work. The Atlantic CEO was shocked, but he knows those type of nights. So in another whirlwind, I packed my equipment, and I was off! Back to the "9 to 5".

Back to life, back to reality
When I got back to the office, it was about 10pm and the document was about 10 minutes away from coming back to my desk. The timing couldn't have been better. I had my cake and ate it too. Getting back to the office on time was nice because everyone that was still working was in good spirits. I too was in good spirits and had a few spirits (from the gig) to keep me going. At about 12:30am, work was finished, but my night was far from over. It was time to go to gig #2.

Don't call it a comeback
A friend of mine was DJing alone at Pianos in the Lower East Side. He is one half of the DJ group Fleetweek. When one of the two guys cannot make it, I usually got to help out. Its no stress, and basically involves making sure the music does not stop when they go to the bathroom and get a cigarette. Nothing big, but the free drinks are nice and the crowd is always good. That was probably the best way to cap off the crazy day. I got home at about 3:30am, buzzed and content. It was a full day, I DJ'd, got paid, and had a great time doing it all. I awoke Friday morning, got to work on time, and was ready to repeat the crazy day (with a real Friday night gig).

Wrappin' it up
Its not always easy to lead this double life. But, thankfully, both DJing and Art Directing are things I have passion for. One of these days I will find time to sleep. However, when you live in NY, sleep is overrated.

Comments (7) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Great post, it always makes for an interesting conversation when you explain to your colleagues that you’re a DJ outside business hours.

    A mentor of mine when I was coming up as a DJ told me once that the hallmark of a good DJ is that its essential be resourceful when it hits the fan. Nice slipmat btw.

  2. Rich,
    Thanks! Im glad you liked the article. Yeah, I have had to be resourceful many times. I had one gig that a turntable was not functioning, so I had to use Serato in a way that it was my second turntable. After that gig, i found many articles/forum posts about using only one table. Its actually pretty easy.

    My job is creative, so many of my co-workers are in bands or paint, or act on the side. Its nice to be able to invite them to the special events that I throw.

  3. Nice article H! Ahhh, the double life. Is there any other kind nowadays?

  4. yo Hill, bubble wrap slipmats – really? I mean really, really? is this something I should be doing too?

  5. no, it was all I had in the booth, haha. I would have used card board if not. That is not good. The bubble wrap did twist up when I was doing a lot of back-queing. So I had to watch out for that.

  6. Try doing this same thing when you own the agency AND have two kids to get out the door in the morning!!! I’m glad I’m not the only one. Thanks for the story.

  7. Great write up – it captures it great (especially the lack of sleep and always being crunched for time). Its funny, most people in one of the settings can never picture me in the other! The true double life indeed.

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