Mirror WORKS: Decks appeal; CARRER AHEAD WITH YOUR JOBS SECTION DJ Fergie's tips on making it in the music biz.
WHEN dance music hit the UK nearly 20 years ago, few could have predicted that DJing at raves would become a career path. But in 2006 it's a multi-million-pound industry bursting with opportunities.
And one man who has turned what was once a cultural revolution into a steady job is DJ Fergie (AKA Robert Ferguson), who can be heard on BBC Radio 1 every Saturday at 11pm.
"I was 14 and growing up fast in Larne, Northern Ireland. I'd not been in school for a year after a car crash and wasn't doing much," recalls Fergie, 26.
"One of my dad's friends had just come back from Djing in Scandinavia. He came to the house and was off to a club.
"As a joke I asked him: 'Can you take me with you?' - and he did.
"I didn't understand what was happening. All I heard was a noise and saw thousands of people dancing but I was having the best time of my life."
Fergie had pounds 50 saved up which he spent on some rickety turntables and started mixing records.
He says: "I managed to get a resident slot at a club in Belfast. I still didn't know what I was doing but people seemed to like this young kid who was standing on a box trying hard.
"My mum and dad would drive me to the club and take me home at the end."
Before long Fergie met top DJ Tony de Vit who took Fergie under his wing and showed him the ropes.
"He became a close family friend and would stay at our house when he was in Ireland," recalls Fergie. "Soon he invited me to London for a week. I went but stayed for ever!"
Even with Tony's support Fergie struggled to find gigs. He explains: "I would phone clubs pretending to be from another club raving about this newcomer Fergie. It slowly worked."
IN 1998 with Fergie still only 18 Tony died. Suddenly clubs wanted to hear from his young protege.
Before long the teenager was making a name for himself with clubbers in renowned nights such as Trade and Sundissential and proving just why there was such a hype surrounding his arrival.
It didn't take long for Fergie to become one of the most talked about and in demand DJs in the UK, with a profile that was rocketing skywards.
By 2002 Fergie's talents were acknowledged by Radio 1, which provided him with the opportunity to showcase his sound on the weekly show.
As well as juggling the show for the past five years Fergie has toured the Americas and Australia and appears every year in Ibiza. "I'm only doing a week this year," he laughs. "I don't sleep when I'm there so I can't take too much of it."
Now his energies are focused on his own record label Excentric.
Fergie continues: "I'm in the studio a lot doing my own stuff but the idea is to provide a platform for up-and-coming DJs.
"When I started out everyone thought I was crazy but now everyone appreciates it is a great industry to join. The youngsters still need help being heard."
With Fergie's help his loyal mum and dad have set up Key Mix, a kind of digital classroom for hopeful DJs in Ireland.
Their son explains: "They saw how this world brought me to life despite my shaky start at school."
To find out more visit www.djfergie.co.uk and www.keymixdjs.com
Here are Fergie's top tips for making it in clubland...
1 Be prepared to start at the bottom.
2 Most music industry jobs aren't advertised through the traditional means, so approach people you want to work for directly.
3 Network. It's all too often about who you know.
4 Be a geek - read all the music press, swot up on tracks and artists you like, know what's going on in your field.
5 Love it. If you have passion for what you are doing you are going to be 10 times more likely to succeed.
6 Look out for any free courses and opportunities to develop your skills.
7 Get online and get your music out there. Web communities such as My Space (www.myspace.com) have become a vital way of getting your music heard and getting noticed.
8 If you are a budding DJ struggling to get a gig - start your own night.
9 Be sociable. If you don't get out there and promote yourself, no one else is going to do it for you.
10 Don't give up, hang in there. It can take years to succeed.
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