With EDM on the rise, DJs are constantly in the spotlight. So what happens when you have a day job and are still looking for night gigs to fulfill your dream? In this article, we look into the life of Kobi Gulersen (DJ Kobi Roditi) to see how he balances his marketing career in both Brazil and Toronto and still finds time to please a dancing crowd.
What's your DJ name?
Kobi Roditi. The story behind here is that “Roditi” was my family’s last name when Turkey became republic in the 1900's. My name was then changed to my current last name (Gulersen) due to regulations set in the county. So my DJ name is a homage to my family.
When did you start to DJ?
I started DJing over a year ago, in May of 2013.
What inspired you to start?
My brother, who is a DJ. I also helped a DJ produce music once and he rekindled my passion for the genre. I’ve been into electronic music since I was 12, before it was anything that anyone followed. Music in general has been a big part of who I am - I was in tenor and played the trumpet in band for eight years. With electronic music, though, I just never had the time to pursue It. Plus, I didn’t have the funds to purchase $4000-$5000 worth of equipment. It just wasn't realistic. But with the way technology has evolved, you can start DJing with good equipment and a laptop for $2000.
Was it difficult to learn how to DJ?
Like anything, it takes a lot of practice. But now thanks to YouTube, you can really learn on your own. I also spent a lot of time watching DJs by standing by them at shows, watching them mix, and networking with the ones in Toronto. They're really supportive. But more importantly, I spent countless hours practicing at home.
Do you practice every day?
Yes. Every day. I play around with music and my equipment, and try to discover new music. During the week, I’ll practice as much as I can but I mainly practice on weekends for three to four hours each day.
What do you do as your day job?
I’m currently on assignment in Brazil as Director of Digital Marketing, Media (online and offline) and CRM for MasterCard. My current focus is on driving more usage and preference of MasterCard cards in the Brazilian national market. A big part of why I’m here is for the World Cup, since we are a sponsor of the Brazilian national soccer team. In Canada, I am the Director of Digital Marketing for MasterCard Canada, which I will go back to at the end of this year.
Is there a connection to your DJ career?
At first, there was no connection. I started DJing mainly because it was something fun and relaxing. But recently MasterCard entered a partnership with SFX, which is the parent company for Tomorrowland, TomorrowWorld, Beatport, Sensation, and other huge EDM festivals. I’m really excited that both of my worlds are coming together.
Do you ever spin on weeknights? It'd be tough to get up for your real job the next day.
I've had some opportunities to DJ a few times during the week. But I always tried to do earlier sets so I can be in bed by a decent hour. I rarely take on weeknight gigs, though, or at least I try not to. My core focus is my job and my team; I don't want to be that guy who rolls into work too tired and lets everyone down. I usually DJ on Saturday nights, and Friday nights are for my family after not seeing them for the week.
What was your first gig like?
I don’t think this place is around anymore but I DJed at this club on Peter St. in Toronto called Media Bar. Small venue; probably 300-500 people max. I did an opening set there from 10pm-12am and it was really great. All my friends and colleagues from MasterCard came out. So for the first hour, the place was filled with people I knew. Other than them, the place was empty! There was literally nobody else but it was amazing having all my friends in the front row screaming their heads off. By 11:50 the place filled up and I had just 10 minutes to spin for a bigger group.
Overall, it was pretty nerve wracking. I went extra early and tried to introduce myself to everyone there, like the barman and doorman.
The only thing that went wrong was that there was barely any lighting. At bigger venues, the lighting would be solely for the DJ so they can see their equipment. But I was in the dark. I was so paranoid I was going to hit the wrong knob and turn off the sound! But all in all, it worked out.
What's the biggest venue at which you've performed?
The biggest and best place so far is the Hoxton. I’m very grateful that I get to DJ there often. I’ve opened for Moguai, Don Diablo and Shaun Frank.
What's the best part of spinning? Or in other words...what is the sensation you get from performing for a live crowd?
I wish I could describe it to you…It’s unbelievable. First off, you’re on stage in front of everyone. Their full attention is on you. There’s a professional lighting guy coordinating with your music, whose only focus is you and your set. And the high is something I have never experienced before. It's so unreal to control the crowd, and be able to read what the crowd wants. It’s also amazing to get feedback from other DJs after your set, especially if the DJ going up after you really likes your music and lets you go for a little longer.
What's your dream venue or festival to perform down the road?
Obviously I dream of playing at any festival! But in Toronto, I would gladly DJ at Uniun or the Guvernment and even Cabana Pool Bar.
I’ve also had the opportunity to DJ in Brazil and would love to spin at more venues here. Three of the top 20 clubs in the world are in Brazil and that’s where I would love to perform – D-Edge, Sirena and Green Valley.
What would you like your next gig to be like?
I would say to DJ with my brother, who also inspired me to get into this. We did a back-to-back set last winter and it was even better than anything I’ve done on my own. Funny fact – our parents come to every show. My mom would be fist pumping on stage and my dad would be having drinks with my friends and my brother’s friends. And as soon as we’re done, they go home. They’re truly our biggest fans.
I have to ask, who is your favourite DJ?
That’s tough to answer because there are so many different categories. But if I were to choose for the top, commercial tier, I would say Kaskade. I've been following him for many years and he continues to evolve his sound. He’s just incredibly talented. I also love Dannic, Audien and Fedde Le Grand.
Any advice you have to those who want to start DJing?
Honestly, buy equipment and practice. Also, be humble – don’t just make mixes and post them on DJ’s pages. Start to network and try to get to know the community. If you really want to make it, you have to produce. Try to join forums for producers. One that I’m part of is called Toronto Producers Group. It’s a great community to ask questions. Lastly, take any job and be patient. Even be okay to DJ in a washroom of a small club as your first gig. You have to start somewhere and understand that it’s going to take time and dedication.
Find Kobi Roditi online:
See more of examples of Kobi Roditi's work on the Suitless Pursuits YouTube channel at: