The grand final of the Palme Middle East DJ Competition is on next week, and both Johnny Storm and Bison will be stepping up to the plate. James Wilkinson investigates.
Johnny Storm Real name – Jon Saxon Age – 35 Nationality – British Job – Editor of Evo magazine Residence – Bur Dubai
What kind of music do you play? Rare groove – funk, soul, jazz, rock – anything with a drum break, and old-school hip hop.
What’s your favourite track at the moment? ‘Boy Like a Timebomb’ by Noonday Underground.
What is the secret to creating a good set? Individuality, continuity, confidence and being 10 steps ahead of your opponent.
How well do you think you will do in the competition? It’s hard to say, as scratch DJs are few and far between here, and in terms of battle DJs there is only one, so the judges don’t have anyone to compare you to. And as it is an open competition, I think the judges will favour a more mainstream DJ who explores the features on the mixer, rather than someone who is scratching and dissing the other DJs. The judges recognised my techniques in the semi finals, but the crowd looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars. That said I think the organisers are looking to advance the event, so who knows? It’s all about education.
How did it feel when you found out that you had entered the finals? Extremely pleased, mainly for the opportunity to showcase in front of a bigger audience in the finals.
What is the biggest number of people you have played for? Around 600, perhaps.
As an amateur contestant, are you intimidated by the competition? No, not at all, just the equipment – it only takes one skip of a needle for you to look like an amateur. I’m playing on vinyl, and vinyl likes to jump. I wouldn’t say I was an amateur really: I have been DJing since I was 15, as my father was a northern soul DJ, so we had turntables at home.
What do you hope to take from the Palme competition? The trophy would be nice, or a regular gig somewhere in Dubai sharing my crates of vinyl.
Bison Real name – Andrew Georgiou Age – 27 Nationality – British Job – Sales Executive Residence – Dubai Marina
What kind of music do you play? I play all styles of drum ’n’ bass, from liquid and ‘jump up’ to dubstep and full on ragga jungle. I have also been known to play a bit of UK garage, preferring 2-step and 4x4.
What’s your favourite track at the moment? Currently, I can’t get enough of the Generation Dub remix of DJ Die’s ‘Dirty Games’. The relentless, fast paced beats and a low-level bassline twanging throughout the tune put you in another zone.
What is the secret to creating a good set? I think the secret is simply that you need to know your tunes. This sounds like an obvious point to make, but I’m always amazed when DJs drop a mix and find that they have two clashing vocals.
How well do you think you will do in the competition? Well, obviously I would love to go all the way and win it! I think I have a good chance, but there are some very good DJs so it’s going to be tough.
How did it feel when you found out that you had entered the finals? I really wanted to get through to the finals, not just for personal glory but also to try to get drum ’n’ bass on the map here. When they announced that I was through, I couldn’t believe it.
What is the biggest number of people you have played for? The biggest crowds I played to were as an MC; I once managed to grab the mic and MC to about 6,000 people at Dreamscape in the UK. The biggest number I have played for as a DJ would be about 150.
What do you hope to take from the Palme competition? Just getting drum ’n’ bass out there would be a great accomplishment; Dubai needs a good jungle night!
The grand final of the Palme DJ Competition will take place on Tuesday April 29 at the Palme Middle East DJ exhibition at Dubai International Exhibition Centre. See www.palmedjcomp.com for more information and registration info.