It was once said that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. It calls for persistence and a dedication to honing one’s craft.
At the age 17, both Brandon Thompson and Ramon Greene already knew a lot about hard work, endurance and dedication. These attributes contributed to the two young deejays winning the Inter-School Deejay Competition in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Winning the competition creaked open the door to a field that was dominated by veterans such as John Doe, Peter Coppin, and Rico Love, to name a few.
The Inter–School Deejay Competition was a step on to greater things for Thompson who is better known on the local scene as Maniack. The former Combermere student subsequently did a stint on Slam 101.1 FM and has also deejayed at events such as Hennessy Artistry, Ikini and Waiki.
“I come from a family of DJs, coming from both my grandfathers, my father and both my uncles,” Maniack told Bajan Vibes.
From an early age, Maniack was controlling the play list at birthday parties and family gatherings. As a result, it was expected that he would eventually dive into a music-related career.
“I found the love for deejaying at the tender age of nine when I first deejayed at a friend’s birthday party when the DJ didn’t turn up and I deejayed from an Ipod. I then decided to get serious about it at the age of 12 when I got my first laptop and I started using Virtual DJ.”
Maniack’s first job was at a car park event organized by his swimming club, Alpha Sharks. Though an amateur still learning the tricks of the trade, he was good enough for the patrons to vibe and enjoy the event.
“Even though I wasn’t that good then, I was still able to get the party moving even though it was a first time. As time went on, I got to deejay at house parties for friends and family from time to time, getting better and better each time,” Maniack noted.
One of the last persons to enter the Inter-School Deejay Competition, Maniack’s chances of making it to the semi – finals were slim as the preliminary stages was based on Facebook likes and this was expected to have been to his disadvantage.
“Honestly, when I first entered the competition, I didn’t have many expectations. The reason I say this is, firstly, due to the fact that I was the last person to enter the competition and it was being judged off of Facebook likes to advance in the competition at that time. I didn’t even expect to have a chance.
“It turned out that when I entered, I actually got through better than I had expected. It was such a shocker that I came out as the number one DJ going in to the semis and then to further on win the competition in the finals,” he recalled.
The competition created a surge of confidence for the normally quiet DJ and opened the door to more opportunities. “Professionally, it opened a bigger door in my deejay career by allowing me to deejay at bigger events. I also gained a bigger following and basically putting myself on the map,” said the now 19-year-old.
It might just be a Combermere thing but the consecutive winners of the Inter–School Deejay Competition are former students of the Waterford, St Michael secondary institution known for its musical talent.
Ramon Greene, or Ramon G as he is popularly known on the party scene, entered the competition in 2015 but, unfortunately for him, the winner was his friend and classmate DJ Maniack.
Ramon G was not deterred by this initial setback and was determined on re-entering the competition the following year that no technical difficulties or lack of knowledge would prevent him from taking the trophy home this time.
“When I first entered the competition, I honestly expected to win. Why? Simply because I had the support and, to some extent, the technical talent with a creative mindset. Unfortunately, on the night of the competition, the Lord had different plans for me and I had some technical difficulties. So the following year I came with a new game plan, a bigger fan base and a different mindset.”
The youngest deejay to be on radio at 98.1The One, Ramon G’s introduction to studio life was via his godmother, DJ Tami. While nursing a broken hand, the teen frequently popped in the studio to visit her at Hott 95.3 FM on nearby River Road after checkups at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. The brightly lit “On Air” sign and the control system caught his eye and the young student was enthralled.
The young man’s inquisitive mind immediately got to work. As a result of using Virtual DJ, a week later he started hosting weekly live streams from his bedroom. “My first booking came in that same year when my friend Ghost had a little party at his house and I went down and fling some tunes and everybody was just vibing.” Ramon G recounted.
He added: “My next booking was the first ever Kraze Jouvert. This party officially launched my DJ career. Honestly, work was slow but as I continued to stream and the people locked on to hear the vibes, persons started recommending me to promoters and things picked up.”
As they look back on the development of their careers, both Maniack and Ramon G cringe in embarrassment while acknowledging that they have grown leaps and bounds within the past two years.
For competing deejays, practice makes perfect. Maniack has his sights on the Stoli’s Most Original DJ competition, one of the island’s post-Crop Over events – while Ramon G continues to electrify the airwaves.