Monday, August 1, 2011
Kids getting a lesson on spinning discs and making beats.
Turntables instead of canoes, studios instead of cabins. Tel Aviv's DJ camp is anything but kids' play.
"Being a counselor in a day camp stinks. I really want to be a DJ," laughed Amit Levy, 13, from Tivon, within earshot of his counselor, Amit Roi, who was slightly insulted.
The guiding principle of Roi, 30, whom the kids call DJ Pipe, is "you learn to DJ at night." Nevertheless he is trying to teach as much as possible about the world of parties, spinning and music specifically during the day.
This is his fifth year at the Muzik School of Creation and Production, which has also run day camps for over 13 years. At the start of the camp, he makes sure his glory days are not forgotten. "Our counselor participated in the world championships of scratch and reached 15th place. That's really good to get 15th place out of all thousands of people," Levy says, referring to the practice by which DJs run a record backward and forward under the needle to make distinctive sounds.
Pipe corrects him: "The truth is it was out of 33 contestants."
"That's good too," Levy says.
In one lesson, for example, he teaches how to switch tracks without missing a beat, and how to work with the dizzying speed of contemporary electronic music. He stands before the campers with an accessorized DJ stand, including speakers and vinyl records. At the end of each hour, the students come onstage, one by one, and all mess up in turn. He patiently instructs them and send them to practice in the individual recording rooms. They are small, one meter by 1.5 meters, and the intensity of the sound there would hold its own at Ha'uman 17. Two boys enter each studio and the sound that emerges is dizzying.
Course or camp?
The campers' parents shell out NIS 2,280 for what they are convinced is a course and not a 10-day day camp. Camp employees do not know any alumni who made their way into the DJ industry, but nevertheless the kids treat the whole thing very seriously.
"I'm an apprentice DJ, still modest," says Levy, "Still not spinning at parties. It's my second year in the course, and I'm constantly improving. And within 10 years I'll be producing with Skazi," he promises, invoking the name of an Israeli trance duo.
Ziv Shimshon is a Jerusalemite in a baseball cap, whose green eyes seem more mature than the others. He says he is 14 and "in the business since sixth grade. I spin everything, but not in clubs, for now just in homes and yards. I have a business card," he says and pulls it out. It's an impressive card with his phone number and profession, DJ.
"Everyone wants to work in it already," says Alon Abucasis, 12, of Zichron Yaakov, "but only Ziv is really doing that."
Shimshon says he attends the camps because he "wanted to start from the beginning and increase my knowledge and understanding of recording. Acquire technical knowledge here and carry on. DJing is a profession I want to stick with until the age of 40 or so, so it's important for me to study before that. In the meantime, I have all the equipment at home." He adds that the parties he plays music for are not tame.
"At our parties, there is already alcohol, cigarettes, nargillas and chaos. Every Thursday I go to a party like that. But I think at the parties of the other kids in the course, there is Bamba, Bissli and XL," chuckles Shimshon, "they don't have a bar at all."
Where are the girls
The day camp is on the first floor of an industrial building in a district of auto garages near the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv. This year, only boys attend, which Shimshon says is natural.
"What would [girls] do here?" he asks. "It's rare to find a female DJ at a club. I go to many parties and I've never seen a female DJ. It's a boys' thing. Like soccer."
But Abucasis disagrees. "If a girl likes it and wants to be a DJ she can come here without a problem. But there are some girls who would rather be with their friends or at home," he says.
During the breaks the campers eat downstairs, "at the Tari-tari stand, which serves them the odd dish of rice in pita," says Roi.
The kids say learning here is nothing like at school.
"Here there are jokes and fun, not like in school," says Ofer Friedman, 12, of Bat Yam. "It's like learning history, except harder," adds Levy, to which Shaeli Turjeman, 12, from Bat Yam adds: "And a lot more fun."
Abucasis says the camp shouldn't be fobbed off as all fun and games, though.
"This is not school. It's a place for people who are serious about becoming a DJ and not just looking to pass the time," he says. "We came to study what we love. True, there are also kids here who think it's a day camp, and they break the equipment and don't care what the counselor says."
Shimshon describes learning to use the equipment: "At first you come and see all the buttons. And you don't know what each one does. Afterward, you learn and work on it and then you know everything. At first it's hard; by the end, it's easy."
For many of the kids though, records are an ancient artifact and they must deal with a new problem, finding LPs to spin.
"I didn't have any, but yesterday I found a Shlomo Artzi record on the street from 1981," says Levy. "But it's cracked." Abucasis says he learned to mix without records.
"I found myself mostly watching YouTube and making remixes off of a few web pages. It's because I'm the only one interested in it at home. I have no brothers. Dad's always at work because he runs a company. And Mom works here in Tel Aviv."