Methodical, humble and disciplined, DJ Anrev knew from a tender age of 14 that being a DJ was his true calling. With the unyielding support from his father, peers and mentors, combined with sheer hard work and talent, his win at the recent Red Bull 3 Style local edition held for the first time in Singapore at Yang Nightclub will take him further afield to Russia in April 2020 to compete with world champions that have been handpicked by international judges.
Aside from founding DJ City and holding a mentorship role at E-TracX, an established school for local DJs, Anrev is selflessly committed to seeding the ground for the next generation of young DJs and diversifying his shows by playing at multiple clubs around Singapore. His next goal? Going regional with Red Bull.
Popspoken: What was the transition like for you from being a student to an instructor at E-Tracx DJ school?
DJ Anrev: I actually started learning basic DJing and scratching before I joined E-TracX, being pretty much self-taught up to that point (about 6 years back). I was actually only 14 then!
Regardless, I already knew then that DJing was something I was going to do for life. It was the first skill I had ever picked up where every movement and technique just felt innately natural to me. Everything about it just felt right, it was like I had some sort of special connection with the music. It felt like paradise every second my hands were on the record and fader scratching to some beats!
By the time I turned 15, I was dead-set on mastering the craft. I did my research, and all sources pointed to E-TracX as the place to be, being the oldest and most respected DJ institution in the region. I immediately gave them a ring, one thing led to another, and in no time I was learning advanced turntablism and DJ techniques under the world-renowned turntablist DJ KoFlow.
From the day I stepped through the front doors of the school, I always felt welcome – and soon enough, the instructors and students at the school grew to become a second family to me. Soon enough, after winning a handful of regional and international competitions and doing some events, I was engaged to become an instructor at the academy when I was 18 years old. It was there that I discovered my love for teaching and sharing knowledge with my students, nearly all of which were older than me.
One of my proudest moments as an instructors was earlier in 2019, when three of my own students attained Champion, Vice-Champion, and 3rd Runner-Up in the annual Live Mix Maestro DJ battle. In fact, it felt even better than winning these competitions myself. Being able to make a positive impact in someone else’s life that way is an amazing feeling that is impossible to describe in words.
Popspoken: Share with us your weekly routine with regards to DJing and how you balance that with spending time with friends.
DJ Anrev: My “routine” has changed over the years as I evolved as an artist. Back when I was new to the art, I practiced for a good 8 hours every day without fail, even going up to 12-14 hours on some days. It was a lot of effort to sharpen my techniques to a level I was satisfied with. I was (and still am) a perfectionist when it comes to DJing.
Right now, however, my schedule is a very balanced mix of:
- Creating new routines
- Preparing for battles
- Recording new songs and beats and collaborations with other artists 4. Managing DJcity Singapore
- Teaching at the school
- Travelling for meetings and gigs in countries in and around Asia
- The occasional networking night at clubs
I make sure I also set aside some personal “me” time for family and friends, amidst my busy schedule. Word of advice though – being an artist requires a lot of discipline and good time management skills!
Popspoken: Which are the top 3 DJ / producers in the world that you admire and why.
DJ Anrev: This has got to be the most challenging question in the interview – it’d be easier to list 30 names who have inspired me. But if I needed to cut it down to three names, they would be the following people:
- DJ KoFlow (Wayne) – Singapore
One of my closest friends and my mentor. Despite his countless awards and accolades, it is not just that which garners my respect and admiration. It is, however, Wayne’s unsurmountable work ethic, and his dedication to keep the Hip- Hop culture alive in Singapore that inspires me the most. I have never seen anyone as dedicated to their craft, and as consistent as Wayne. His selfless approach to sharing his skills and knowledge is also one of the main factors that has inspired the way I teach my own students.
- DJ D-Styles – United States of America
At my root, I am a scratch DJ. Scratching is what single-handedly fueled and kickstarted my DJ career, and got me the recognition needed to branch out into other fields of DJing. When you talk about the art of scratching, there is probably no artist as revered as the grandmaster DJ D-Styles himself. I have had the honor of having him as a friend and advisor, and despite his massive reputation, he is the coolest DJ I have ever met in person.
He is the guy who can completely obliterate anyone at scratching, and at the same time, a good friend you can chill with over a cup of coffee and chat about life.
- DJ Shiftee – United States of America
I first met Shiftee, a two time DMC World DJ Champion at E-TracX during aworkshop he was conducting. Being still new to the scene then, it was my first time watching an internationally acclaimed turntablist perform live. That day, my jaw dropped when I saw this guy moving his hands at speeds that my mind couldn’t yet process. I’d say quite a few of my techniques have been adapted or inspired by Shiftee himself. Moreover, I have always been somewhat of a Math geek – and it just happens that he has a Masters in Mathematics from Harvard University! We immediately clicked and started talking. Just last month, I visited him at his hometown in New York city – we had a good scratch jam and ate some great Thai food.
Popspoken: Your dad seems incredibly supportive of your career so far, having bought you your first DJ equipment. Does he come regularly to your gigs to support?
DJ Anrev: My dad has single-handedly been one of the sole pillars of support throughout my career as a DJ. Since I started out, he has always been supportive and helpful, never once doubting me. When I joined my first battle, I was unknown in the industry and had no supporters or fans. Yet, my dad was there to help me transport my gear, and stayed throughout the competition to cheer me on. Throughout my entire career, ups and downs, he has unwaveringly been by my side – celebrating with me in moments of success, and making sure to catch me when I fall.
My first DJ lesson, my first gig, my first competition, my first victory, my first loss, my dad has always been around. My entire career in this industry to date, from leading the DJcity team, teaching at the school, competing in the USA, up to winning the 3Style battle last week – none of that will be possible at all without my dad.
Popspoken: Share with us the lowest point in your journey as a DJ in the last 5 years, and what did you to turn for the strength to carry on?
DJ Anrev: This was at a point where I’d been winning battle after battle, and started to gain some international recognition. I definitely felt good for a while, but confidence started turning into complacency. Fast forward to mid-2018, I joined a local DJ competition in Singapore. I was extremely sure I was going to win, and everyone around me expected the same of me. That was the breaking point for me since the mounting peer pressure and my own expectations of myself surpassed the amount of stress I could handle. I lost my nerves during the competition and broke under the pressure, botching most of my performance.
That was a major wake-up call for me. I decided if I wanted to do this as a career, I need a 180 degree change of perspective. I took some time off DJing, and luckily with the help of close friends, I managed to pick myself back up quickly and move on. From that point onwards, I promised myself I’d always stay humble and rooted, no matter where my career took me. I think it is important to recognize that as a rising artist, one of the greatest pitfalls we can experience is our own pride. During my time in the industry, I have grown to realize that the more skilled someone is, the humbler they usually are.
From my experiences, I try to be a good mentor to my students and guide them in the correct route so that they avoid the same pitfalls I went through in my journey!
Popspoken: What do you hope to achieve from this win with the Red Bull 3Style?
DJ Anrev: I hope to raise the standard of DJing and competitions in Singapore – and bring more recognition to our region. Being the first 3Style battle here, this is a major milestone in developing the creative DJ scene in Singapore. Having a representative on such an exclusive world stage is definitely a leap forward for all DJs in the nation. Once we get more recognition and eyes focused on Singapore it will do everyone good in terms of overseas bookings and salaries.
Winning the 3Style is a good milestone in my own career too. With the first Singapore title under my belt, I am better equipped and exposed to continue spreading my love for music through a few avenues:
- The DJCity Singapore chapter will benefit from the added credibility, especially with 3Style currently being partnered with DJCity Worldwide. And ultimately, we can educate and inspire more DJs, as well as build and curate the talent pool of DJs and Producers in Singapore.
- I will be doing regional gigs, and some tours around Asia pretty soon. This is already in the works and will benefit further with the Red Bull brand name.
- The win enables me to be better equipped to train more aspiring DJs, and be able to guide them on the correct path to success.
- Apart from DJing, I will be producing my own records and original tracks, with some collaborations with local and regional artists.