How Old Were You When You Started DJing?

Phil Morse | Founder & Tutor
Read time: 2 mins
Last updated 29 November, 2017

Cassette deck mixing
My first DJ mixes were done on hi-fi cassette decks in the late 1980s. What about you?

Our recent reader survey confirmed what we already guessed – we have readers of all ages who love to DJ with digital DJ equipment. Of course, digital gear hasn’t been around for very long at all – but playing records one after the other certainly has!

So we were wondering – at what age did you start DJing? For the sake of this survey, let’s define DJing as “putting tunes together and caring about the order you’ve put them in”. That can include compiling mixtapes to play at parties, doing mock radio shows in your bedroom that nobody gets to hear, or even just being the first to jump up to put something else on the stereo at home when a tune ended…

My earliest DJing experiences were when I was 14 (although I’d been fervently listening to radio DJs wishing I could be one, and also learning about musical theory by playing the guitar for a while by then). For me it was making mixtapes in my bedroom – I remember my father telling me that I’d “break that” when I was cueing vinyl on my cheap hi-fi belt drive turntable to make my cassette tape mixes flow, and I recall editing those cassette tapes using sticky tape and a craft knife, to make my songs mix right on the beat.

I also remember putting one of my two stereo speakers in the bathroom (using the other as a “monitor”), wires under the carpet back to my bedroom “studio”, and doing elaborate radio shows for my family while they got ready to go out. For this I used a motley assortment of cheap tape decks, Tandy microphones, and a “live feed” of the hourly news from the radio, which I timed into my “broadcast” with a precisely set digital watch! Lucky them…

It’s funny to look back and see that I was learning about flow, and programming, and beatmatching, and timing, and editing, and hacking equipment together, while completely oblivious to the fact that the skills I was teaching myself would serve me well professionally much later on.

So – when did you start DJing or getting into performing/making music? What equipment did you use? Was it planned, or just did it happen by accident? And did you know at the time you’d eventually want to DJ properly, or – like me – could you simply not sit back and listen to your records without adding a bit of yourself into the equation too? Please share in the comments!

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