Just because you become a DJ doesn't always mean you need to pick one or three genres to spin. Being a DJ is more than just playing music for a crowd of music lovers. It requires that you be versatile depending on the crowd and venue, playing music that keeps the fans coming back for more. If you only play one type of venue because that's the crowd and genre that works for you, keep doing you! But if you find yourself playing in venues to crowds who enjoy a variety, it can be important to cater to each situation, knowing how to mix multiple genres. At the same time, don't play music you personally hate either. It should be a win-win-win for everyone!
Dan Lester, aka DJ Platinum, understands this well. Hailing from just outside the amazing city of London (I haven't been but I hear it's amazing), Dan has been buying vinyl since 1996 and perfecting his craft since he got his first decks in 1997. First inspired by attending raves, he realized a love for spinning the tunes he loved so much, it was time to jump in himself!
After having time out due to raising his family (and not having space for his decks!), live streaming was a fairly big change for him as it was a completely new experience. But he quickly got to grips with this new way of entertaining people during the pandemic and started growing his audience; first on Facebook, then Mixcloud, and now finally on Twitch, and he has been able to continue sharing his passion for performing and his love of all the genres his spins while staying safe, hoping to be a springboard for getting the bar and club gigs he has missed out on in recent times.
We had the honor to chat with Dan to learn more about him, his family and his story, from raving to streaming.
An Interview with DJ Platinum
STL: What music got you started as a DJ?
DJP: I got my first set of decks back in 1997 aged 17 but had already started buying vinyl the previous year, and at that point it was mainly happy hardcore as I was big into the rave scene back then. I used to go to the big raves like Dreamscape, Helter Skelter, Hardcore Heaven and Slammin Vinyl, as well as the club nights at places like Labyrinth, and be in awe of the DJs spinning the tunes I loved, and wanted to try it for myself.
STL: What is your preferred music genre(s) to spin/mix?
DJP: I pride myself on being able to mix multiple genres that reflect my wide tastes. So while I play a lot of trance and hard trance these days you can also expect to hear happy hardcore, freeform, hard house, old skool/rave, 90s dance and club classics, house, drum & bass/jungle, techno, breakbeat, hip-hop, 80s pop and disco anthems....!
STL: What is your favourite stream you have done?
DJP: Wow that’s tough one! Having never live streamed before May 2020 it’s been a whirlwind since then! I’ve been involved in numerous raid trains including several raising money for charity, which is always nice to do, and in a recent one for my PRISM collective I had a big raid by none other than the mighty Darude, so of course that stands out. I’ve also organised some raid events myself which have gone very well, where I’ve had a real personal interest in ensuring their success, including a big one in early August for my 1,000 followers celebration which featured 22 DJs playing across 55 hours non-stop, including 4 sets from myself!
STL: What made you become the DJ you are today?
DJP: Two main things: passion and practice. Passion for the music I play and for showcasing this to the audiences I play for; and of course just being on the decks and constantly looking to improve my skills and develop my mixing style, taking the time to watch and learn from others too, which is very important.
STL: What is your favourite meal?
DJP: It’s probably easier to ask me what food I don’t like! But if I have to nail it down I’d have to put Pasta at the top of my list. I’m a big fan of Veal Escalope with Tagliatelli Pomadoro, and my wife and I make a cracking Spag Bol - it’s all about the paprika and the Worcester Sauce!
STL: Who do you inspire to be most like?
DJP: From a DJ-ing perspective I’d probably look to someone like the legendary DJ Slipmatt, a fellow Essex boy who's still going strong after 30 odd years. I know like many he uses a controller these days while I’m still a vinyl head, but his technical ability and the way he constantly works the mixer to add creativity to his mixes is second to none. I think I try to emulate his style to a degree as I often like to go fast-paced with my mixing and make use of effects etc to add something different. And I love a spinback!
STL: Who else in your family is a musician?
DJP: My brother’s got decks too and he’s pretty handy on them, though he doesn’t live stream.
STL: How would you describe the energy in your streams and chat?
DJP: I like to try and bring energy and hype to my streams, giving everyone who posts a message and says hello a shout out and generally encouraging a lively chat. Usually it’s a good vibe, and obviously the more viewers that are in the more likely the chat is to keep flowing. To me it's important to engage with my audience, make them feel welcome and make them feel like I'm bringing them along with me on a musical journey that we're all a part of together.
STL: What is your favourite drink?
DJP: I’ve always been a lager man, boring as that may be! Give me a Stella or a San Miguel and I’ll be happy. Back in the day I used to drink a lot of whisky/bourbon too, but not as much these days - the odd snifter now and then! One quite random drink I’ve got into recently is Passion Fruit & Orange Gin, which goes very nicely with Sprite.
STL: How much has Twitch changed over the COVID-19 lockdown for you?
DJP: It seems like it’s grown in popularity, even in the relatively short space of time I’ve been using the platform. I know it’s been a lifeline to a lot of people in terms of overcoming social isolation and coping with everything that’s been going on in the world, and as it’s so much more of an interactive platform than other live streaming sites it seems more and more people have turned to it to be a part of the friendly and welcoming communities that we are all fortunate to have been a part of on Twitch.
STL: Are you planning on any live events after lockdown ends?
DJP: Myself and my Virtual DJs group - which was the first DJ group I joined after I started live streaming and where I’ve met some amazing people - were planning a great event for early July, just after when we all thought lockdown was originally ending. However with restrictions remaining in place we sadly had to cancel the event. However we have some early ideas in place for putting on even bigger and better events in 2022 and hopefully beyond - watch this space!
STL: What is your biggest change since becoming a Twitch DJ?
DJP: I’ve definitely grown in confidence in terms of live streaming since those early days. Feeling the love and energy from my viewers has definitely inspired me to really make a go of it on Twitch, bearing in mind I didn’t start fully concentrating on streaming to this platform until maybe October last year. Before that it was largely Facebook (before the copyright issues) and Mixcloud, but I was shown the light! Now I’m a member of various groups and teams and I get invited to participate in events etc, which is a measure of how far I’ve come in a relatively short space of time.
STL: If you could give any advice to a new streamer, what would it be?
DJP: Hard as it is, try not to focus too much on the number of people in your streams, especially early on. Remember first and foremost it’s about the enjoyment of playing your music. Get involved in other people’s streams and chats and you’ll soon get noticed. And don’t forget the most important thing is to raid into another DJ at the end of every stream you do, as that helps build your community and network, as well as that of your fellow streamers.
STL: How do you think things will change as lockdowns end and venues start to open?
DJP: I’d like to think there won’t be a mass abandonment of Twitch as everyone scrambles to get back in the clubs and at festivals. There will hopefully still be a great appetite for watching streams - especially during the week - and of course there’s plenty of people who weren’t raving it up each and every weekend prior to the pandemic anyway, especially those of us with kids. What we may start to see more of though is live streams from club nights, which will be good for seeing DJs in action in the club environment from the comfort of your own home, but of course takes away the interaction and engagement between the DJ and their audience in the chat which makes Twitch streaming so unique and appealing.
Catch DJ Platinum on Twitch
Interested in checking out DJ Platinum on Twitch? You can catch him on his channel on the following schedule:
- Every Thursday at 7pm UK time (live stream of my weekly show on Essential Clubbers Radio)
- Most weekends at various times depending on the event/raid train I’m involved in or if I just fancy jumping on!
He is also a part of several of the great and talented DJ teams on Twitch and Facebook, including:
- Virtual DJs
- DarkSin's Classic Trance team
- Shorty K's RaveStylez Krew
- Trance Addicts
- Vinyl Head DJs
- Bass Connection