Luxurious Magazine talks with Malaysia Deejay Dave Ramana, learning about the Malaysian club-scene and that there is far more to being a successful deejay than putting a song on and chatting with the customers.
Luxurious Magazine: Dave, thank you for taking the time to talk to us. We would like to start off by talking to you about your early days as a top DeeJay. How did you get involved with DJ’ing and what was it that prompted you to do this?
Dave Ramana: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. I started DJing in 1990 right after high school. I have a great interest in music especially New Wave since the early 80s and grew up my teenage years listening to it. Then came the 90s with modern hip hop with a mix of old skool which gave me the inspiration to be a DJ.
I started DJing under the guidance of DJ Macumba at the Royal Selangor Club there onwards moved to Sapphire Club. Back in the early 90s, it is a requirement for a DJ to have a good command of English and voice before we are even taught the basic mixing.
I was fortunate to have both and with that, I decided to try Broadcasting DJ besides just being a regular club DJ. I was under the guidance of Andrew Susay who trained on how to be a good broadcasting DJ. It’s a combination of good music knowledge, the ability to speak as a broadcasting DJ that landed me into Salem Power Station in 1992.
What were some of your memories of being a DeeJay during the early years?
DR: The crowd back in the 80s and 90s is completely different than what we have today. Back in the early years, we don’t have the luxury of CDs or CD Players left alone Digital Vinyl Systems which ease the pain of today’s DJ tremendously. Good memories of being a DJ during back in the early days is having to sit down with 100 if not 200 hundred vinyl’s (12″ Singles) and counting the BPM using a Citizen stopwatch and a counter.
It takes two DJs to do this, one DJ to keep the time and the other DJ to click every beat that he hears to get the exact BPM. Once we got the BPM, we have to write it down on a white label sticker and stick it in the front of the Vinyl Cover. That was more fun than mixing live to a crowd because we sometimes do it wrongly and redo the counting from the start.
Is there one particular place that stands out as your favourite place to work when you were a full-time DJ?
DR: I think one and the only place that really stands out is Piccadilly Disco in Damansara. It had everything more to ask for any DJ, Light Technician and Band ever wanted. This was the place where bands perform with laser shows, lightings using hydraulic arms to extend all the way down to the dance floor and retract back. The speakers were so huge and powerful for the environment that it should be placed for concert and not in a club. Piccadilly stood away from its competitors during the early 90s and I still believe no club today in KL can match up to it till this very day.
What prompted you to start your the company ‘SoundKontrols’
DR: I started SoundKontrols with one thing in mind that is to provide good quality sound to customers regardless of their budget. With more than 2 decades of experience in sound, music and DJing, I combine these with state of the art technology to make a good sound even better. I also found that in Malaysia today there are people who want to experience good sound even in their own home but don’t know exactly how to achieve it.
Many Malaysians love to own a dedicated home theatre or audio room but simply did not know how to make these rooms sound better with moderate speakers and amplifiers. Acoustically treated rooms will sound better even with entry-level speakers and amplifiers in comparison to untreated room with high-end amplifiers and speakers. Hence, I started my company by providing sound acoustic panels, bass traps, sub isolator platforms and speaker isolator platforms which are made 100% in Malaysia and made it affordable for every home.
Was it difficult during the early days of the company establishing yourself within the market?
DR: Just like any other business, there is always a big hurdle when you start a new job or business. I believe with good discipline, determination and dedication one can be successful. It will take time and lots of effort before you can see the fruits of your labour. With many competitors out there today, I believe in being different and versatile.
Has the growth of the company and its subsidiaries met or even exceeded your expectations?
DR: Yes, with just a few months of establishment, we have secured a Master Dealer for SoundKontrols Acoustics and we are working to expand that number more outside of Malaysia. We also started SoundKontrols DJ Academy due to high demand from the new and upcoming DJs and in less than 3 months we have more than 10 students just within a short period of time.
[email protected] is another online shopping cart where people can buy selected quality products. With more Malaysians having internet access in their homes today, they can order online and the savings are passed to the customers by eliminating middlemen. We are an authorized dealer for more than 7 brands and well over 100 products.
Are there any AV/Sound products new to the market or coming soon that is making you excited?
DR: Yes, I am excited about some of the new products shown at NAMM 2011. These include the Serato SL 4, Emulator Multi-Touch Midi Controller and the all-new Traktor Scratch PRO. These products will be in the Malaysian market in 2nd Quarter 2011 and should transform the way DJ’s entertain the crowd. More than 9 companies (Pioneer, Denon, Numark, Pro Audio Star, American Audio, Gemini, Native- Instruments, Akai, Reloop) came out with new MIDI controllers at the NAMM 2011 and this will revolutionalise and transform the way DJs perform.
What’s the goal for SoundKontrols over the coming years?
DR: We’d like to reach out to more Malaysians and provide them with good sound quality which will be in comparison to a professional home theatre room by installing SoundKontrols Acoustics panel in their very own sound or home theatre room. SoundKontrols DJ Academy will train and cultivate the new generation mindset by producing a different type of DJs in Malaysia, DJs who can spin vinyl, different kind of genres and most importantly a DJ who is Mic friendly. In the coming years, [email protected] will carry more manufacturers and give Malaysians the opportunity to save money by purchasing online.
Tell us about the SoundKontrols DJ Academy
DR: SoundKontrols DJ Academy was established to train good quality and talented Professional DJs with the highest standards leading on to better job opportunities. The academy specializes in using ‘state of the art Digital Vinyl Systems’ to train all DJs with an emphasis on the studio and on the job training. The Academy ensures all students are trained on how to handle the crowd using the mic. When I first started the Academy we taught about doing it for the money.
I wanted to train DJs and pass my knowledge which will enhance the student to become a good and successful DJ. I also teach them every aspect of DJing from Club, Bistro and Mobile DJ and how to market themselves in the entertainment industry successfully. We have a structured curriculum which will provide the students with theoretical and practical knowledge. We emphasize giving the entertainment industry in Malaysia quality DJs. Therefore, we only train 2 students maximum per week in order to maintain the quality of our courses. All of our instructors are leaders within their own entertainment industry and students are taught on a one to one basis.
We don’t leave the students in the studio alone by themselves because we give 100 per cent of our time for each class. By doing this, we ensure quality time with every student and also allow the students to ask us questions that they may have. Just as any other Education Academy, it is compulsory for students to sit for a written exam before they are awarded a certificate of completion. All courses are taught with the highest standards within the entertainment industry. In addition, we also assist our graduates from the academy with job placement by placing them with the right entertainment outlet. All graduates of the academy are automatically registered to SoundKontrols DJ Academy Alumni. The Alumni encourages to share all forms of knowledge and other aspects of DJing among themselves which will foster good friendship. SoundKontrols DJ Academy Alumni also organizes quarterly gatherings and invites other PRO DJs to share their knowledge.
You obviously work out! How much time do you still spend in the gym and does working out get more difficult as you get older?!
DR: Good question! Yes, I have been working out for the last 15 years and occasionally I also do part-time personal training as I am a Certified Personal Trainer. Nevertheless, fitness has been part of my lifestyle along with my daily healthy diet plan. I normally spend about 90 minutes in the gym, 4 times a week in total. As you get older, you tend to become more easy-going and think good health is not a priority. It’s when you get older that we have to be more attentive about what we eat, alcohol consumption and routine exercise. My only advice is to keep healthy by exercising and eating the right food. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind!
What’s your favourite ‘hang out’ place in KL?
DR: That’s a tough question to answer. I wish I could give you one place that comes to my mind immediately but unfortunately, I can’t think of any. We have far more places to dine, wine and party today than 20 years ago. I hang out at bistros more than clubs simply because I can spend a good time chatting. Probably one good place to hang out for good music and beer will be at Finnegans Irish Pub.
Thanks again Dave for taking the time to talk to us, is there anything else you would like to add?
Dave Ramana: A Big Thank you to you for this Interview. I hope to see more good places opening in KL. I guess, worst-case scenario, it would be nice to own your own place at the end of the day. A Place that is different in every aspect, service, food, ambience and the most important MUSIC.