Music not only inspires, but also offers a creative outlet for industry professionals. At first glance, there might not be a distinct correlation between music and the advertising industry. However, these industry professionals beg to differ.
Jonathan Mackenzie (pictured left), managing director, Publicis Media Precision Asia Pacific, who hails from the UK, was drawn to DJing when he was a teenager. Mackenzie, whose DJ name is "DJ J. Mac", described the music scene during the 80s and 90s as "buzzing" and "interesting", piquing his interest and desire to become a creator in the music space. Among the list of bands that inspired him were Happy Mondays, New Order and The Prodigy.
To fulfill his passion of becoming a DJ, Mackenzie spent countless hours at home with two turntables and a mixer, as well as reading books, to master the art of DJ-ing. Despite having to juggle between his three children and busy work schedule, Mackenzie makes it a point to spend at least 30 minutes to an hour on the decks at home to unwind. He sees DJ-ing as a "positive distraction" that removes him from his daily activities, adding that having an activity outside of work is essential for one's own well-being and state of mind.
"It is important to have more to life than a job," Mackenzie said, especially things that inspire and motivate an individual. To his delight, Mackenzie has since discovered other industry professionals who also share a similar passion for DJ-ing.
Guy Hearn (pictured second from left), chief innovation officer, Omnicom Media Group, Asia Pacific, is one of those individuals who Mackenzie encountered that shared a common interest for DJing. Hearn, also known as "DJ Groovetrain", said he and Mackenzie were former colleagues who have been discussing about launching a night event that offered them the opportunity to DJ. In the second half of last year, the duo finally launched "Unleashed", a monthly event for industry professionals to let loose, together with a few other friends in the industry.
Hearn and Mackenzie have played together approximately three to four times and while they are both musically compatible, Hearn prefers playing with vinyl records while Mackenzie leans towards digital files. According to Hearn, his field of work around measurement, marketing and data science share a similarity with music - pattern recognition.
The part of the brain that's responsible for looking after music is also the part of the brain that's responsible for looking after your mathematical skills.
Much like marketing, storytelling also plays a crucial role in DJ-ing. He likens DJ-ing to putting together a presentation, where the DJ will start slow before building the music up to a peak and bringing it back down to some quiet moments, before building it up again. As it is easy to fall into the trap of spending all of one's mental energy on work, Hearn said it is important to have a side interest to prevent one from getting burnt out.
Despite his busy schedule, Hearn plays at least once a month. He is of the view that it does not matter how long one takes to get something done, it is just important to have something to work towards. In the next few years, Hearn aims to start a record label and promote some of the producers in Southeast Asia.
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The Ogilvy duo
As an experienced individual on the decks, Claudio Chock's (pictured right) passion for DJing started out as a hobby during his years in upper secondary and junior college, when he first came into contact with turntables. The creative content strategist at Ogilvy & Mather Singapore, who goes by the moniker "DJ CHOCKolate", said he lost his passion a few times but rediscovered it again and has played at school parties during his university days and a few clubs in Singapore.
He began working the decks recently and attempted to get his colleague, Jacqueline Cai (pictured second from right), social media specialist at Ogilvy & Mather Singapore interested in DJ-ing.
Cai initially refused as she found DJing to be complicating, until she came across the Pioneer DJ booth at last year's Ultra Singapore. She decided to sign up for the Pioneer DJ’s Mix Us Happy programme, a masterclass that allows people with zero DJing skills, to learn from the best in the industry. In this six-month programme where one learns the art of mixing, 30 out of over a hundred participants have to go through competitions as well to showcase their skills and talents from the months of training. Cai, also known as "DJ BlaqJacq", came out on top out of 30 semi-finalists, and also emerged second place among 13 finalists.
As a social media specialist who keeps abreast of trends, Cai said DJ-ing is similar to her scope of work. As a DJ, one has to understand the type music the crowd prefers, which is similar to understanding the preferences of consumers.
For Chock, one takeaway from DJ-ing that is applicable to work is the art of being able to entice audiences. DJs are always beat matching to ensure the next song matches with the one currently being played. However, only the DJs are able to hear what the next song is through their headphones. As such, this somewhat acts like a surprise for the audience when they hear the next song being played after the beat matching is done. For Chock, this is similar to how companies and agencies are always figuring out ways to engage and surprise consumers or target audience whenever they launch a new campaign.
Cai added that people reading is also another skill set that DJing offers. Through crowd reading, DJs analyse the energy level of the dance floor to gauge the type of songs they should play to liven up the mood. Likewise at work, Cai said this skill is useful in gauging the reactions of one's manager or colleagues, allowing one to react accordingly.
This concludes the first season of Marketing's "After Hours". Do you have a unique passion you pursue after office hours? Share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to be featured in the next season of "After Hours".
(Photo and video courtesy: Unleashed Singapore, Happy Mondays, The Prodigy, New Order, Ultra Singapore)
Previous episodes of After Hours:
After Hours: Performics’ human beatboxer Cheong Chee Jun
After Hours: Queen of the kitchen Stefanie Liew
After Hours: Professional Doodlers Joji Jacob, Jessie Lam and Eugenia Clara
After Hours: Valerie Madon Cheng’s Licktionary