It was 1999 when Ryan Mattingly, a.k.a. DJ Easton Ellis, got his first chance to spin at Felicity’s after-hours club in Kitchener.
But almost a decade later, and despite numerous opportunities to work as a DJ in Canada, the U.S, and abroad, he finds he still has to justify what it is to be a DJ.
“I do have to explain that it’s not just showing up and playing around behind the decks. There’s an art and a skill to it and it’s definitely a full time job to take seriously,” says Easton.
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“Tons of DJs out there have been producing for years, have their own labels, and make a lot of money off what they do.”
The best DJs in the world have as many fans as the biggest rock stars. But even the lesser known beatmasters — the ones who keep the energy flowing and get bodies moving on dance floors in Ottawa’s clubs — can develop a solid fan base.
And the best local talents should have a forum to show off their skills.
Which is why the owners of Heaven Nightclub decided to launch DJ Idol, a seven-week competition that sees eight of the city’s hottest DJs battling for beat supremacy. In addition to bragging rights, the winner will get a bi-monthly residency as DJ at Heaven, interviews with local television and radio stations and the production and release of a single.
Each week, competitors play sets and receive constructive criticism from a panel of experts, including club owners and other DJs. But it’s what the fans think that really counts.
Online voting, which starts each Saturday at noon and closes the following Friday at noon, is entirely up to the fans of the club scene.
Heaven co-owner Martin Villeneuve says it’s a way for club-goers to have a good time and have their say on who’s the best DJ in town.
“The turnout has been good on competition nights and it’s a great way to get local guys some exposure, playing on a big stage. We had over 1,400 votes in the first week so we think that’s a fair indication of how well it’s going.”
Tonight, the third round sees Easton Ellis competing against fellow contestants J. Bradley and Jeffrey Lapratte.
The DJ Idol competition continues every Friday through August 17, at Heaven Nightclub, 400a Dalhousie St. The beats get started at 10 p.m. and the cover is $7.