Radio presenter Ana Schofield may have a long and award-winning career on-air but she admits she always wanted to be a superstar DJ.
“I’ve often been called a ‘DJ’, but I would correct people and tell them I was a radio host,” says the co-host of Sharjah’s Pulse 95 Radio’s Yalla Home drive-time show.
“I wanted to be a DJ, but there was no clear access to it … It was simply a case of learn in your bedroom with equipment you didn’t know how to use.”
Now Schofield, also an international voiceover artist, has found a way to scratch her creative itch vicariously as co-founder of a professional DJ school for children in Dubai Studio City.
Each Saturday, Original Mix DJs, in partnership with Adam Long of Sole Agency, trains youngsters aged 7 to 15 – and possibly parents in the future, too – to become proficient club-level DJs for a potential career in the business.
“It’s an ‘I wish’ situation,” says Schofield, a mother of two. “I couldn’t, but I thought, ‘let’s create a platform so other kids can’, namely professionally taught classes to show the next generation how it’s done.
“DJs are the new rock stars, and it’s incredibly creative when done properly”.
There’s a curriculum and certificates; we go from switching on your Pioneer decks to establishing your music genre choice to being able to mix a set properly
Ana Schofield, co-founder of Original Mix DJs
And it can lead to incredible success, as the likes of megastar Calvin Harris and Original Mix DJs ambassador Colin Francis will testify.
The latter has nine No 1 albums, is a record label owner and has produced other artists. He, alongside fellow British DJ ambassador Mark Hill, who was one half of the UK garage duo Artful Dodger, will run masterclasses for the school this summer.
Schofield says Original Mix DJs is the first such school in the UAE and swiftly attracted 18 students to its inaugural 10-week programme, which cost Dh1,750, in February at Studio One Hotel.
DJs Sara G and Blaise, who are in Dubai and have recently released a single, provide the coaching.
“We started gently, no advertising, no real marketing, launched on Instagram, a few of the main expat websites and tested the water … The response was phenomenal,” says Schofield.
“There’s a curriculum and certificates; we go from switching on your Pioneer decks to establishing your music genre choice to being able to mix a set properly.”
That’s the kind of education Schofield says could lead to a career for graduates who seek it. “The UAE is one of the most glamorous tourist destinations in the world, so there’s an amazing platform for it here.
“Incredible hotels, restaurants, venues … all of these supply the party world and vibe that surrounds this beautiful region.
“DJs are magical and creative, can change the mood and emotion of situations in a second, influence thousands of people. They can make or break a party or event.”
Francis and Hill, who have four Ivor Novello songwriting awards and 20 million album sales, both taught themselves DJing skills at home before hitting the club circuit. “The fulfilment after playing to a huge crowd and seeing their hands in the air, singing, letting out screams of euphoria, is one of the best feelings you can have as a DJ,” says Francis.
“However, personality, individual style and passion is your unique selling point and something like Original Mix DJs is very integral in guiding and helping the next generation of DJs and producers to develop that.
“I have worked hard and been honest to my craft … I am truly grateful for how far my chosen path has taken me.”
Hill, who co-wrote and co-produced Dubai regular Craig David’s huge debut album Born to Do It, says he is surprised by the extent of his own success, but believed from a relatively young age that he should put time and effort into something he was passionate about.
“It was hard work and long hours but never felt like it wasn’t going to be worthwhile and I enjoyed every minute, which made it easier to commit the time needed to make a career out of it,” he says.
“People who are committed to going that extra mile, pushing themselves, will always have an advantage over those that want an easy route to success, and committing to being a part of something like Original Mix DJs will show that level of commitment to learning the craft.
“I was always focused on pushing the boundaries and trying new things and being the best I could be … I believed I was creating something unique and that drove me forward which ultimately led to having a long career.”
Updated: April 4, 2021 06:16 PM