When did you start DJ-ing?
I started playing at a very small Bar/Billiard club, where 5- 10 people would hang out, drink beer and play Billiard. I was around 14 and I didn’t get any money or anything for it. I remember I used to get a free Soft-Drink once in a while when the bar had more than 10 customers and the owner felt like giving me a treat. But once I asked for a Sprite for my friend, he didn’t get one. I played Hip-Hop and used Vinyl, since there was no hype around these “CD Players” or even the Laptops that everyone uses nowadays. It was a great practice for me and I quickly understood the concept of “Beat Matching” which is basically the only technical thing a DJ has to do… It means to adjust the speed of the two songs you want to mix, without having the laptop do it for you.
What are your main sources of inspiration?
I think it’s basically life that inspires… You can ask a painter or a filmmaker and he would probably say the same thing. It’s the everyday life that gives us ideas. And of course certain life events (positive and often also negative) give you stuff to think about. The music is just my way of expressing that. A painter will probably do a crazy colorful painting the day his mother dies and another painter will paint a pitch black one. That’s the beauty of creativity… Everyone has a different perception of everything and a different way of expressing his/her feelings.
But that’s how I feel now… When I was a young kid my Dad probably was my inspiration. He is a classical producer and until last year he used to run one of the biggest classical recording studios in Germany. He is the reason why I got into music in the first place. He made me take Guitar lessons when I was 5 and I hated it until I was around 12. Then I started to enjoy it and wanted to know more about music.
The first time I bumped into Electronic Music was when a friend and I sneaked into a club in Hamburg. We were definitely under age by many years at that time and I heard that song “Show Me Love” by Robin S. I was like, what’s this? I was a full on Hip-Hop boy and didn’t have any sympathy for electronic music back then, but this track had kind of feel to it that made me want to know more about that style. So I started to go to the record store near my parents place and started asking the guy who worked there for similar music. I discovered Steve Angello not long after and from that day on he was my Hero. He is the reason why I wanted to become an artist and make electronic music.
How did you come up with the idea to DJ in your NiP Jersey?
I have been a NiP fan from day one. I used to be a huge SK fan back in the 1.5 days and I made a bunch of CS videos so I have a long CS-history. A few months back I started browsing the Internet and ended up looking for eSport Jerseys. I thought: “Wouldn’t it be cool to play in a NiP shirt. Then people would think I wear some kind of Football jersey until some recognize it’s a gaming related shirt.” Since gaming is a big part of my free time I have no problem being associated with it. So I ordered it and have been playing around 15 Shows with it since then. That’s basically it… At GamesCom I played a show with Benny Benassi at “Bootshaus” in Cologne and the NiP guys showed up and we had a great time together. Since then we keep in touch.
What advice do you have to young DJ:s who are trying to make it?
Advice is something I never really got so I can only speak from my experience. I think there are 4 things, which an upcoming Dj should know.
- You need to produce your own music. The term “DJ” is not the same anymore. If you are a “DJ” and want to get somewhere you need to be an artist and produce your own music otherwise there is no reason why you should stand out. Just being good at mixing is not something that counts because that’s a basis for everyone.
- Do your own thing but don’t be egoistic about it. By that I mean, if you go to a club you should have a set prepared or music selected which you like and you want to play for the people. Think of the audience as a theater. People come to see what you do. Even though it won’t be like that for the first few years and you are “just a random DJ” try to make the people interested in you. Try to play songs they don’t know but you think they will like. This is very tricky because it can happen that the dance floor empties very quickly because your sense was not right. But that’s why I think a good sense for the crowd is the MOST important thing as a DJ.
If you can read the people and know what the next 4 tracks should be you have mastered the magic of being the cool dude playing at your favorite bar every Friday but still earning NO money. This is a very first step of becoming a DJ but it’s the most important one in my opinion. You need to make the people think that the track you play next is what they want to hear.
- Try not to do what the others do. This does not mean that other people shouldn’t inspire you. It just means don’t try and make a song that sounds exactly like the latest Avicii or which ever artist is your hero. Try to listen to how they mix and arrange the songs, but try to find your own sound as well. This is the only advice I got early on and it’s probably the hardest thing to realize.
- Don’t use a Laptop. If you are new to DJ-ing learn on CDJ’s (Pioneer CD Players that are the club standard for DJ’s worldwide). There is nothing worse that a DJ hiding behind his laptop that does the job for him. No one needs you to mix 4 songs at the same time. You can do crazy things with just 2 CD players if you practice. So if you have a show just go and try the CD players. I never had them at home. I practiced at the clubs and obviously my first few gigs on CDJ’s were not very well mix-wise but you will get there very fast. I mean in the end we all just push play and adjust the speed a little… nothing more. The rest is sensing the crowed and creating a vibe with the tracks you play.
What are your plans for the future?
I am currently involved with a lot of things in the gaming industry and I am trying to create a closer link between music and gaming. Apart from that I am continuing to work hard in the studios and play my gigs. I just had a release on Ultra Music, which was a milestone in my career. Also my first single charted in the top 20 of the Germany Dance Charts. I’m very excited about next year and I am sure a lot of exiting things will happen. And as long as I can take care of my girl and my dog I have all that I want.
Moonbootica – These Days Are Gone (Honka Remix) (Ultra Music): https://soundcloud.com/honkamusic/moonbootica-these-days-are-gone-honka-remix-1
Honka – Follow Me Blind (Top 20 Germany):
Full name: Nils Hakan Zscherpe
Artist name: HONKA
Town of Birth: Hamburg, Germany