CUPRA continues to shine a light on Irish artists in the electronic music scene who are paving the way for future DJs off the back of their recent DJ Competition ‘On The Pulse’. Our new ‘Top Tips’ series features essential DJ tips and advice from some of Ireland’s most coveted selectors, beginning with none other than, Yasmin Gardezi. The Kerry native discusses the importance of experimenting with new genres, preparing for festival sets, naturally marketing yourself, warming up a room, and more.

Yasmin Gardezi‘s relentless output over a seven-year DJing career has landed her on some of the country’s most coveted stages, including Electric Picnic, Emerge, The Telegraph Building, Life Festival, and Fuinneamh, to name a few. In recent times the Kerry native has been bringing her powerful techno sound around the globe with a slew of dates in Australia, Madrid, Berlin, Malta, Paris, Ibiza and many more.

Yasmin has been constantly reinventing herself as a DJ while remaining true to her artistic intent, which is rooted in the galloping techno sound that she has become synonymous with. Yasmin’s rise in the techno scene is particularly admirable because, for the majority of her career, she has not released any music, so she has climbed the techno ladder through her dynamic approach to DJing, which incorporates her immersively hypnotic and psy-soaked take on contemporary club sounds.

We caught up with Yasmin Gardezi to hear some of her essential DJ Tips to help aspiring DJs on their journey.

Your rise in the techno scene is quite unique in many ways, as for most of your career, you had no music out; what do you think made you stand out without the need for productions to boost your profile?

This is a hard one to pinpoint but I think I’ve gotten as far as I have by unapologetically being myself and not comparing myself to anyone else’s journey, through being consistent in every area, with regularly uploading mixes, attending and supporting events since before I became a DJ, getting to know my peers and promoters in the scene, which you can call networking, being consistent with socials from the very beginning and constantly upgrading my music catalogue with new and old sounds. I’ve been told my selection, adaptability and my ability to read a crowd’s energy and interact during my sets are admirable so I feel these have added to my rise in the scene.

From the early stages of my career, I’ve always played tracks from other artists, especially upcoming producers. I’m a big supporter of local talent, pushing the incredible Irish artists and you’ll always hear their unreleased tracks in my sets. I’ve also made it my mission to always give credit where it’s due and tag anyone involved in my material online, whether it’s an artist’s track or a videographer or photographer who took that content. Art is for sharing and it’s important to build others up so we can all succeed together. I’ve got a great connection with the community and I love sharing my story whether it’s musically, or otherwise, and by giving people an insight into my life and vice versa, this creates a stronger connection. So all of this glued together I feel has led to the steady build of my career since the early days.

Your musical style has always evolved throughout your career, and you haven’t stuck to a single style; do you think being musically fluid is important?

Yes, I think it is extremely important not to limit yourself to one genre. I’ve done my fair share of evolving through the different genres over the past 7 years, growing musically as an artist and constantly changing my taste, while also have the element of adapting to suit support slots and a range of different environments. You need to be musically fluid, especially when you are just establishing yourself as an artist. If you can master this skill and know your place in a time slot or support situation you will nail every slot and this will in turn bring you more opportunities. For an upcoming DJ it’s really important to remember that promoters take note of who’s done their homework and this gets them a good reputation to be booked again and again.

Aside from DJing, you’ve been active in social media and music marketing, how important is this in today’s music scene?

To a lot of people’s disgust, social media has become a massive part of not just the music scene, but probably every aspect of our lives. It’s just the way things have played out in today’s modern society. It’s important to promote yourself to an extent online I think. I personally enjoy following artists I like and keeping up to date with their mixes, video clips from events, show dates and their goofy little lives. If you’re looking for some advice on social media presence, I think it’s important to just be yourself and don’t do stuff that feels out of place or performative online. Don’t feel you need to be a robot too and can only post about music-related bits. Be yourself, promote your music and shows but don’t do anything that doesn’t feel like you. My Instagram account has always been my personal account, obviously with a lot more added music content over the years, but I don’t limit myself to only sharing the music side of me. It’s just my account and I have been told people love seeing what I get up to aside from being a DJ.

You’ve become a festival favourite in Ireland; how do you approach large-scale festival shows versus smaller club shows?

A festival set will always be a little different to a club set with me. It is safe to say I have two split personalities when it comes to my approach to both. When I’m preparing for a big festival set, especially when it’s usually a 1-hour set, I like to plan this down to a T, so much that it makes my friends sick lol. I would usually spend a longer time digging for a festival set, choosing or making a memorable intro with my own vocals sometimes, putting tracks in perfect order, marking cue points for when I’m going to mix in the track, adding up the time so it adds up to the hour and selecting the perfect closing track. You could say I’m definitely more calculated for my festival approach. For club shows I like to be more fluid and spontaneous with no strict structure or flow. These sets are usually much longer so there’s more time to experiment with the crowd and clubs are always more of an intimate setting so there’s more scope to create a connection with the crowd and build the atmosphere in the room. Festivals are usually a much larger space in an open-air setting or circus tent and this alone possesses a different ‘WERE READY FOR WAR’ atmosphere I feel so I usually prefer to go with a more hell-for-leather approach in this setting.

You made your Boiler Room debut in October of last year; what kind of preparation goes into a performance like that?

Playing on Boiler Room is a pinnacle moment for any DJs career so of course I took this preparation to the extreme. I took a similar approach as I would for preparing a big festival set, spending weeks on end digging for music for this special career-defining step in my little DJ life. I made sure to have a captivating opening, a big finale and of course a powerful and energetic middle that brought the crowd up and down through the paces while making sure to stay true to my sound and really just show who I am in that hour. I definitely made some sacrifices socially in the lead up by isolating myself a lot and really keeping my head down but the result was worth it! To have a broadcasted Boiler Room set for the world to watch at any time is like having a CV of yourself online so you really have to showcase yourself to the best of your ability in that stage of your career. I can safely say my style of music has evolved some more since but at the time that was the set that felt right for me and I love looking back and watching the best bits to this day! Special shout-out to the pair who dressed up as the Step Brothers for making my Boiler Room. The atmosphere in Silo was unexplainable on that magical day and it was extra special playing to the home crowd.

What do you believe is the most important skill to have as a DJ?

Being able to open a floor properly and build an atmosphere on the dance floor from scratch is easily one of the most important skills to have as a DJ and when you have mastered that I think you’ll find yourself itching for the next opportunity to do that. While having the headline set is great, it’s even more special knowing you were able to create a welcoming floor that started with 0 dancers and built up to a packed out room by creating an atmosphere that steadily grew in pace from the intro track to the final moments before passing to the next act. In this career you need to understand that you have to be versatile from the beginning, you need to know how to play a range of different sets, not just the pinnacle set. You’re not always going to have the headline moment, but by being versatile and taking a step back sometimes, whether that’s slowing down the bpm a bit or not playing the peak time tracks, you’re going to create many more headline moments for yourself in future with this right attitude and approach than if you didn’t adapt.

What advice would you give someone looking to break into Ireland’s dance music scene?

Always stay true to yourself musically and remember why you got into the music scene in the first place. Be respectful of your peers, there is room for everyone. If you keep a good attitude and have good etiquette from the start the word GO, you’re going to go so unbelievably far you have no idea. Always be mindful of creating a safe space for everyone around you, that is what music and dance floors are all about. Take on constructive criticism but make sure you do not acknowledge or take to heart negative or damaging remarks and comments. Most of the time the people leaving this negativity are jealous or not happy in their own circumstances or journey so stay positive and keep doing you and don’t fight fire with fire.

If you sense the crowd not vibing with your set, have some curveball tracks ready to bring back their attention, whether it’s a trance classic or a track with some familiar vocals. You’re going to be faced with crowds who don’t gel well with the more underground tracks so be ready to be able to tackle this and get them dancing. It is all about the crowd at the end of the day, we’re here to bring them on a journey and season them with new sounds, but not scare them away.

The last thing I can say is ENJOY IT. If you’re nervous always know it’s coming from a place of excitement. Doing the uncomfortable will always make you grow. Say yes to as much as you can while you’re starting out and get to know everyone in the industry. Support your fellow DJs and producers and attend your local events. Always remember it’s a community, not a competition. It’s a really beautiful world to be a part of and sometimes I need to pinch myself if this is really my job. I love it so much.

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