We’re excited to introduce you to the always interesting and insightful Erik Fish. We hope you’ll enjoy our conversation with Erik below.
Erik , thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today We’d love to hear about when you first realized that you wanted to pursue a creative path professionally.
My story to pursue djing as my profession began after approximately five years of doing it solely for fun. I enjoyed the process of mixing music, by myself at home or with other friends. We would just all get together to hang out and take turns djing, mixing any kind of genre we happen to have on vinyl. A short time later, technology advancements allowed us to dj with records still, but now the music was actually on our computer. This opened doors to acquiring so much more music via downloading as well as new tricks in how we were mixing the music.
As my djing continued, I began to get asked to play house parties for friends, which in turn led to being asked to play for a friend of a friend and so on. Playing house parties were a great learning experience as now I was playing for people I did not know and “reading the room” was paramount to a successful party. Some songs were played very quick while others would be played almost in their entirety. I learned quick there was an art to controlling the dancefloor.
One night while out at a local bar with friends I noticed there was a dj playing. I just observed how he worked the room with different styles of music. How everyone on the dancefloor would throw their hands in the air and scream when the next song was mixed in.
I loved it!! I thought to myself how much fun it would be to play to a “real” dancefloor, not just a living room with the furniture moved out of the way!
As it turned out my neighbor was a bartender at that exact bar I was at and she was in charge of booking entertainment. After a bit of convincing, she gave me a shot. I was so nervous, but I did it! It went well and they offered me the opportunity to dj there every Thursday. I practiced, paid attention to what songs worked well, and took every chance I could to improve. It just so happened that someone I knew was a partner at another local bar and when hearing of my Thursday night, offered me Friday and Saturday nights at her bar. I said yes! Now I was actually being paid money three nights a week to do what I was doing for fun in my living room.
In the course of djing I began to meet and talk a lot with other djs working around town. I found it was a pretty tight group and we all enjoyed swapping stories, tricks, and tips on our experiences. I began to think how great it would be to dj at other bars and clubs around town as San Diego had no shortage of great nightlife year-round. I eventually was offered a chance to play another bar which in turn led to another. Soon after I realized djing was not just restricted to weekends. There was always something going on seven nights a week, and in many cases even during the day. Not to mention while djing, I would get approached to dj private and even corporate gigs.
I was eventually offered the opportunity to dj every Tuesday and Sunday night. This is when it finally happened! I thought to myself, I can actually make a living off just djing! By this time, I already knew many djs around town that were doing it full time and making a great living at it. They were happy to share advice and pointers on making a living djing. I came up with my dj name, FishFonics and the first time I saw my name on a flyer for a night club, I thought it’s official I’m a full-on DJ!!
I realized quickly that to be successful I not only had to be great at my craft, djing, but being easy to work with, reliable, etc. All of the traits that are important to almost any job. Outside of just djing, having people wanting to work with you is important. I learned the value of relationships and what that meant to my career.
After a short time period of djing as my only source of income, I realized I still loved it all the same. I had always heard the rumors of once something becomes your job, the passion may fade. Now that something I loved to do for fun became my “job”, I found I still was looking forward to doing it even more every week. I learned early on there are so many different paths you can take as a dj. Bookings consisted of corporate and private events, nightlife, festivals, day parties, movie premiers, and sporting events just to name a few.
Jump ahead almost 14 years and I still love djing, and how it has progressed over the years.
There have been ups and downs as with any career, but always being open to learning, practicing, adapting with the times, building relationships, understanding that it is important to grasp the business side of it, and a drive to just get out there and do the work always seem to pay off in the end.
Awesome – so before we get into the rest of our questions, can you briefly introduce yourself to our readers.
A lifelong love of music, hard work, mixed with a little bit of right place at the right time opened a door into a career I never could have imagined. As a DJ I am in a fortunate position to provide people with a small escape from their day-to-day activities or just simply enhance their present experience. There is a great saying for DJs, “it’s great to play the songs they want to hear, but even better to play the songs they didn’t realize they wanted to hear.”
I love what I do and appreciate the opportunities that have come my way. Playing huge corporate parties, intimate gatherings overlooking the beach, college area beach bars, nightclubs, or festivals, they all help me stay well rounded and diverse in how I DJ.
When it comes to private/corporate events, it’s important to have a clear picture of the expectations of the client and share in their vision of the event. Many times, they will ask for suggestions as experience plays a valuable role. Sometimes something as simple as the location of the DJ booth can make all the difference. Communication is key to anything!
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
The most rewarding feeling is to see the hard work payoff. It can be a packed dance floor in a club, or a private event where the client and guests are all smiles and tell me they look forward to working with me again. I always appreciate leaving a gig and as I am leaving the venue I am asked when I will be back. So much of what we do as djs is based on relationships. Outside of being great at what one does, being easy to work with is also paramount.
What do you think is the goal or mission that drives your creative journey?
Creating memories, for myself and others, and sharing my love of music with anyone I can.