It’s safe to say that outside of musicians and artistes, local disc jockeys (DJs) and sound systems are the musical ambassadors who promote Jamaican genres and culture to the world. According to the founder of Renaissance Disco, DJ Delano Thomas, if Jamaica is to remain well respected in this regard and for years to come, there must be a conscientious effort among DJs and sound systems to take their craft to the next level by refining their soft skills.

DJ Delano, who is no stranger to the industry, spearheaded the rise of Renaissance in the late 1980s and early ‘90s, leading it to prominence as one of the most respected international sound systems. These days when he’s not showing off his spinning skills, Delano supports the Ministry of Tourism by training DJs in hard and soft skills through the Tourism Linkages Network’s DJ Capacity Enhancement Training Programme.

Having trained more than 200 DJs over the last five years, Delano says he’s noticed that many local DJs do not know how to use their soft skills to their benefit. Soft skills include clear communication, listening skills, emotional intelligence, time management and conflict resolution. “You can be the wickedest DJ, but it is your soft skills, such as proper communication and emotional intelligence, that will get you the furthest in life,” he explained.

Renaissance’s outstanding legacy in signature remixes and fast juggling earned the sound system a Guinness Sounds of Greatness (GSOG) Recognition Award in July this year. It was the latest on a list of accolades, including the 2005 Billboard No. 1 hit, We Be Burnin’, by dancehall artiste Sean Paul, winning the ASCAP Pop Music Award and Rhythm and Soul Award in 2015. Delano also boasts the title of being the first Jamaican DJ whose sound made appearances on BET, Soul Train, MTV, and others.

Delano explained that although he hadn’t realised it then, the determination, talent and the right application of soft skills by the Renaissance team helped propel it to where it is now. He contends that his knowledge of how to properly communicate and meet the needs of diverse audiences worldwide has kept him on top of his game.

“When you speak about sound systems in Jamaica, you know it’s coming from the streets, from our reggae environment and our culture; you can’t take that away from us. However, you cannot always carry the street way of doing things into certain environments. You have to learn all genres of music and what different cultures and countries appreciate. Do your research and learn how to find that balance in order to please your audience,” he asserted.

Delano is hopeful that the training for DJs will continue and that Renaissance can contribute to the ongoing development of young talent for their benefit and that of Brand Jamaica.

Meanwhile, he shared that Renaissance would continue to strive for excellence, buoyed by recognition from their peers and local organisations. “I’m happy that Guinness is actually taking time to seek out those that are backing the culture because a lot of people take it for granted. Guinness has touched a lot of platforms and a lot of sound systems,” he shared. He has also encouraged those up-and-coming in the industry to strive to achieve such awards, knowing it can be accomplished with the right combination of talent and dedication.

Source: The Gleaner