Higher Learning at Spinach DJ Academy

Being a professional DJ has gained respectability over the last decade. Back in the 90’s, a DJ’s public image was often associated with drugs and underground parties, but that is no longer the case. These days, taking DJ lessons is regarded by young musicians as not much different from learning the piano.

Spinach DJ Academy, the first DJ school in Kemang, opened in 2005. Founded by Riri Mestica, one of Jakarta’s most respected DJs, Spinach has grown not only as a DJ-training center but now also includes Spinach Records. The academy has trained about 600 students in the past five years, and about 200 former Spinach students are now practicing DJs.

“DJ School is for everyone, whether you’re learning it as a hobby or pursuing a career. There is no age limit,” says Ricky Tampubolon, distribution manager at Spinach Records. To give the students real-life experience while learning, Spinach integrates practical training sessions in the local clubs. “One of the advantages of taking courses with us is that we have a job training program at Barcode,” Ricky says, referring to Riri’s outdoor terrace and club located in Code Fin Kemang.

Students at Spinach are offered the opportunity to try their hand at performing for audiences at events like Royal Rumble, which is held every two months to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their DJ skills in clubs around Kemang.

Every student is introduced to the basic manual old-school equipment: a turntable and a vinyl. In the 80’s, before the CDJ era, DJs worked with two turntables and a microphone. Spinach students have to learn basic turntable skills before they can use Pioneer CDJ. “A turntable is much more difficult because everything is manual, if you can handle that, then moving on to CDJ will be a lot easier,” says Ricky.

At the end of the day, being a DJ is all about a love of music and the joy of making people dance. So what does it take to be a good DJ? “Some just have ambition, and they make it easily,” says Ricky. “But you need to have the whole package — talent, looks and the ability to socialize.”

DJ Gladiator is a former student who took a two-month Basic DJ Class at Spinach last year, and now plays progressive house music regularly at clubs such as 999, Musro, Domain, Barcode and Bloeming, as well as private parties around the city. “When I first joined Spinach, I started from zero,” says DJ Gladiator. He chose Spinach, he adds, because of DJ Riri, who inspired him to pursue a career as a DJ. Spinach has opened doors to advance his career. “The instructors never stop teaching us, even after we finish the program,” he says.

Most students at Spinach range from their 20s to their 30s. “In general it’s never too old to learn anything. Any music lover or anyone with a music background can be a DJ,” says Luckyta, a finance executive at Spinach Records.

Spinach DJ Academy also has some teen students. Thirteen-year-old DJ Putri Danizar has already had a lot of experience on the DJ set and was among the top ten of SE7ENTUuNE Next Generation DJ Contest last year at the Jakarta Convention Center. “Lucky me, not everyone has an opportunity like I did at such a young age,” says Putri.

DJ lessons can be taken for fun, not just to build a career. “We used to have a student who worked at Pertamina, and he would come in wearing his work suit,” says Ricky.

Like any other hobby, being a DJ doesn’t come with a cheap price tag. The club standard equipment, Pioneer CDJ 1000, costs about Rp 15 million, and a DJ needs two of those, plus a mixer, headphone, speaker and Apple laptop, the most essential tool. If you take courses at Spinach, all that equipment is provided.

Spinach DJ Academy offers many different types of classes; basic DJ class, basic private class, club DJ class, turntablism class, digital DJ class, and electronic & dance master class, with the price of courses ranging from Rp 800,000 to Rp 6.5 million.

For students who want to make a career of DJ-ing, it’s easy to get back your investment on the expensive equipment. “Yyou can make around 1 million a gig, for beginners, and female DJs sometimes can make more,” says Ricky.

DJ Deena Rhythm, a female R&B DJ based in Jakarta, plays regularly at nightclubs such as Domain, Equinox, Tribeca NYyC and has also performed abroad. She decided to become a DJ because of her love for R&B music. “I enjoy playing music and it’s not easy to master Hip-Hop/R&B,” she says. Deena ignores sexist bias in the business about the skills of female DJs. “I don’t pay any mind to what other people say, and most of the guys are my friends. DJs have a bond with each other.”

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Higher Learning at Spinach DJ Academy

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Spinach DJ Academy/Spinach Records

Jl. Kemang 1 No. 12H,
Tel: 021 719 0584
Fax: 021 719 5127
spinachrecords.com
spinachrec.wordpress.com

Focus Point: Oktagon

Photography is an expensive hobby and profession, so when you’re purchasing a camera or other necessary supplies, you want a store that provides quality products, knowledgeable guidance and reliable service. Oktagon in Kemang offers all of the above for amateur and professional photographers alike.

Oktagon first opened for business in 2002 at Gunung Sahari in Central Jakarta. Owner Wiryadi Lorens says he wanted to contribute to the development of photography in Indonesia. A young and creative entrepreneur, he saw an opportunity to offer camera retail sales, service repairs, rentals, gallery and photography school, all under one roof. In 2007, to meet the rapid development of the photography industry, Oktagon opened its second store in Kemang.

Oktagon client Andreas bought his Canon 50D at the store in Kemang three years ago, and has been a regular ever since. “I’m comfortable with the professionalism of the staff. They always have good advice when I purchase lenses or other products, and more importantly I can return for repairs if there are ever any problems,” he says.

Oktagon sets reasonable prices, which other stores often use as a reference. “They call frequently; I already recognize their voices,” says Zakaria, a camera expert at Oktagon who learned the trade from Oktagon’s training program when he began working at the store three years ago. As a new employee he was required to attend classes at Neumatt, Oktagon’s photography school. “Eventually I bought my own Canon 450D,” he says.

Photography is an expensive hobby and profession; the price range for an SLR (single-lens reflex) camera runs anywhere from Rp 5 to 80 million rupiah, and as much as Rp 300 million rupiah for a commercial or billboard camera, not including accessories, lights and lenses. Oktagon offers a credit installment option for serious buyers or professionals.

For beginners, Zakaria recommends Oktagon’s newest product and current best seller, the Canon 1100D, priced at about Rp 5 million for a complete kit. For most customers, looking for the best price is a priority. But at the end of the day, according to Zakaria, it is worth paying the extra money for the product service guarantee just to be on the safe side.

Choosing between Canon and Nikon is every beginner’s biggest decision, he adds, noting that both brands are great cameras. Whichever one you choose, it’s best to stick with lenses and other accessories that are compatible. Oktagon’s advice: pick a brand used by most of your friends or photography community; this way you can trade and borrow lenses from each other.

With the growing interest in photography, the market for professional cameras is no longer just for those who work as photographers, but for anyone with an interest. Many photography-related activities are held almost every weekend in Jakarta. Websites such as http://www.fotografer.net and http://www.ayofoto.com bring together amateur and professional photographers for exhibits, workshops and other events. Oktagon, too, often sponsors events and gatherings and provides free rentals for lighting and other accessories.

An industry that used to be dominated by men now attracts more and more women, Zakaria notes. When he first started working at Oktagon, only two out of 10 customers were women; today the number of female clients has doubled. “Just the other day, a housewife bought a Canon 5D to take pictures of her children and for travelling. It’s an expensive camera for a beginner and for that purpose alone. But that’s what she wanted, and she was excited to start.”

Iwan Putuhena Reports

Original article was published in Kemang Buzz

Focus Point: Oktagon

Pictures by Dissy for Kemang Buzz

Oktagon
Kemang Icon
Jl. Kemang Raya No. 1,
Tel: 021 719 2757
oktagon.co.id

Store Hours
Monday – Friday: 09:00 am – 20:30 pm
Saturday – Sunday: 10:30 am – 17:30 pm
CLOSED ON NATIONAL HOLIDAYS