For all those kids out there who whine about being dragged to piano class every week, know this: there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Thanks to recent U.K. transplant and electronic impresario Propa Tingz, born Anthony Traynor, there's now a music class in Whistler that's a little bit different from the norm, with weekly DJ and production workshops for teens and adults. Offered through the Whistler Arts Council, the multi-faceted Traynor brings his years of experience as one of the hottest electronic producers to the table, giving students the tools to thrive in today's rapidly evolving digital music landscape.
Midway through the first course of its kind in the resort, and the students benefiting from Traynor's hands-on instruction in all facets of DJing are taking the first steps in what will hopefully be long and illustrious careers in electronica.
"Essentially the focus is for them to produce their own tracks, and have a finished product," Traynor says. "We'd like them to get a finished EP done, and with that we want them to go out there and release the track, promote the track and get it to the right people."
Gone are the days of dance floors past when DJs only had to provide a party's soundtrack and know the right promoters to make a name for themselves. The DJ of 2014 is a Renaissance Man of sorts, a digitally savvy encyclopedia of musical knowledge who's just as adept at beat matching as he is at production and self-promotion.
"Because of the advent of the Internet and the digitization of music, everything's become so much more available and the process has been sped up," Traynor says. "The only guys who can make successful careers as DJs have other aspects to the repertoire; they're either label owners or producers because there's so much demand and so much hype around the scene that you've really got to have some special angle."
Take 15-year-old Zac Davis, an avid EDM fan who has dabbled on the wheels of steel, along with a handful of other traditional instruments, before signing up for the course at Millennium Place. Hoping to start "a band or two" with some friends in the near future, Davis is learning how to craft his own beats using production software Ableton, thanks to Traynor's wealth of experience.
"Anthony's been fantastic as a teacher," says Davis, now halfway through the six-week course. "We've been messing around and taking short little samples and had them looping, played around and jammed with those. We practiced warping tracks, changing their speed so you can match them into other tracks and mix them in and out if you're DJing for a party."
While EDM has become something of a global phenomenon in the last few years, the availability of classes in electronic DJing and production has not exactly kept up with the demand, says Traynor. Sure, there are countless video tutorials online showing the ins and outs of digital production and DJing, but there's still a severe lack of hands-on instruction at most schools, unlike the courses Traynor has led in the past at Harbourside Institute of Technology and Langara College in Vancouver.
And with the EDM scene thriving in Whistler, Traynor says he's hopeful to continue tapping into the resort's younger demographic in order to mould future DJs and beatmakers.
"Because of the explosion of electronic music over the last five or six years, it's starting to get recognition as an art form that people build their lives around and focus on building a career out of."
Visit www.artswhistler.com for more information or to learn about potential DJ classes in the future.