Farewell dj-DuKee: The End of an Era

This weekend marks the end of an era for me. It’s been a long journey, but now it finally comes to a close. I’ll be selling all of my DJ gear and closing that chapter of my life for good. This post will be part-photo blog and part-autobiography,¬†chronicling the evolution of my¬†DJ experience over half a decade.

I started DJing out of necessity back in 2005, when I was just a sophomore in high school. My group of friends and I started throwing our own house parties, and this required a DJ. Knowing that my uncle had DJed professionally in days past, I turned to him to borrow some equipment and get my hands dirty. Borrowing his equipment for a night, the adventure began. Right away the excitement of finding and mixing just the right music at a loud party proved irressistable to me.

Eventually, the number of parties we started throwing made borrowing my uncle’s gear very inconvenient. I had grown out of that first phase and was ready to invest in the next (and as anyone who’s bought music equipment knows, it’s a big investment for a 15-year old). Business picked up though, as Armenian mothers in my local community began passing my name around for their daughter’s Sweet 16′s.

This made a lot of sense, since I had just turned 16, too. I was basically paid (handsomely) to go play music I loved and have a good time. Make no mistake: these Armenian families would pay anything for their daughters to have the perfect Sweet 16, and I was being paid on the order of $400-500 a night. The referrals were so plentiful that till this day, I never invested in any business cards or other type of promotional material. Nothing. My margins were fatter than any teenager could imagine, and it was totally by accident.

My wide range and varied taste in music made me a versatile DJ. I even got a few gigs for the 40-50 year old crowd who were just as pleased as the teens I played for on my ‘fun nights.’ For a kid in high school, this was definitely the funnest job to have. As I said, I was getting paid (a lot) to do what I would have done anyway: collect all types of music and play it back with gusto.

Back in 2005 I had written,

“DJing is more of a hobby for me than anything else, I’m not dying to continue Djing. But i like it, and I’m good at it, so thats why I do it on the side to make some good cash and enjoy parties. I do my best and people always ask me what I’m playing and where I get it from.”

It’s also important to note that I got into the game at the start of the “digital DJing” revolution. Computer-based offerings were just starting to mature, and I took advantage of them immediately. All my setups had a computer in some form (as you’ll soon see.) As the software and the hardware evolved, I evolved with it, incorporating the new controllers and devices as they were released. At the same time, satellite radio and BBC’s streaming player had made it really easy to get the latest and hottest grooves that no other teenager had heard of in the San Fernando Valley. So all these factors conspired to make it really painless for a 15-16 year old to get into the mobile DJing business.

Without further hesitation, I present: the evolution of a teenager’s love affair with DJing (you can click on any of the pictures to view the high-res version):

March 2005

March 2005: The very first setup had no DJ speakers or a laptop. It was just my own desktop computer on an office desk; no mixers, controllers, or anything else.

November 2005

November 2005: The setup evolves. For our first big house party, I borrowed my uncle's equipment, a pair of Ramza 2-ways, another pair of Yamaha 2-ways and a CrestAudio amp to power them all. My old Gateway desktop was lugged around too. Here's the "DJ booth" in Lauran's bar.

Yes, I would actually lug around my desktop PC, the monitor, full keyboard, and everything! Here I am messing with an early version of Traktor.

We were very serious about our parties: here Eddie and Harout are taping the speaker wires to the moldings.

The party was a success! "Insayn Germain" as it was called set off my 5-year DJ adventure! One of the Yamaha speakers pictured in the back of the room.

February 2006

February 2006: The setup evolves. I put my dad's Dell laptop to use and bought a Hercules DJ Console Mk2 controller. Still using my uncle's speakers and amp, and mooching off clients' tables (didn't have my own).

These early parties proved successful right away. The money machine was in the 'on' position!

February 2006: My first sweet 16 was Eddie's sister Nataly's. Pictured here: the new portable setup, but still using borrowed tables! The headphone's were my dad's stereophile pair I had just taken from him, hah!

Talking shop with Lauran in 2006: we didn't know it back then, but he'd go on to partner with me and carry the legacy of my business for two years!

A closer shot of this setup: the Hercules unit was actually quite advanced for it's time (and it's incredible price). Five years later, in 2010, we're seeing a return to it's integrated model of controller+audio card. It wasn't the most reliable and full-featured piece of kit, but it fit the bill perfectly back then.

Spring 2006

Spring 2006: After the sweet 16's started to bring in some more serious money, I upgraded the playback gear. Pictured hear was the CDJ setup with my Ecler Nuo4 mixer, 2 Pioneer CDJ-800 Mk2's, and M-Audio reference speakers, sitting on top of a custom made surface that my friend Saro made for me.

I also had to stop stealing my dad's headphone's and bought my own pair of Pioneer HDJ-1000's. Pictured here on the lower right.

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