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Tensteps Talks With Us About His Beginnings As A DJ, His Experiences & More!

The road leading up to polishing skills on the mixing decks takes time, effort, and talent. Tensteps surely proves this showing why his name deserves to be on the list of DJs to follow; with impressive releases and even more remarkable collaborations with DJs like Standerwick and Andrew Rayel, his distinctive sound has already received praise from the likes of Armin van Buuren, Ferry Corsten, or MaRLo, to name a few. We talked with Tensteps about his beginnings as a DJ, his experiences, and advice for upcoming artists.

Hey Tensteps! how are you?
I’m great! Freshly returned home from my bachelor party in the Dominican Republic so a little fried at the moment but ready to get back to real life haha.

Can you tell us about your beginnings as a DJ? When and where was your first performance and how did it go?
I started DJing when I was a freshman in high school, so I was like 14 years old. I was doing open format back then, not just dance music. My friend Evan and I used to throw parties at a local spot in our hometown so that’s how we got into it.

Is there a routine you follow to get ready before jumping on stage?
I’m super forgetful, so I have a checklist on my phone of everything I could possibly need during a gig, however unlikely – my USBs, headphones, laptop in case my USBs don’t work, laptop charger, external hard drive with my music, any possible adapters I’d need in case I did need to play off my laptop, things like that. I’m meticulous about preparing for any problem that could occur and making sure I have a solution for it. As strange as that sounds, that calms me down because I know I’m prepared to handle whatever gets thrown at me.

What do you usually look for in a track to add to a live set?
It has to support the vibe that I’m trying to create with that set. If it’s an opening set, it needs to groove and help me set a foundation for the night. If it’s a later set, it needs to have the proper amount of energy to correspond with the timeslot of my set.

What’s your favorite part about performing live?
The crowd reactions for sure. Nothing will ever beat having a crowd of people sing your own song back to you.

Can you tell us what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from mixing live?
Don’t trust ProDJ Link haha. Luckily, I didn’t have to learn this one firsthand, but after my set at Find Your Harmony San Jose, I was talking to Ruben de Ronde in the green room and he told me to always use a USB drive in each CDJ, never to trust linking them and running off a single USB. He got burned by a ProDJ Link glitch during one of the ASOT festival events, so I will gladly turn his experience into a teachable moment for myself haha.

Do you have a funny or interesting story involving a live show?
Not sure about funny, but nerve wracking I can tell you for sure. I played in Chicago with Andrew Rayel, and I was scheduled to be the opener. I spent weeks prepping my opening set, and the day before I was flying out to Chicago I found out that the direct support DJ had to cancel (this was still when there were a ton of logistics issues for DJs because of Covid so this was happening quite often). I got moved up to direct support, and had something like 12 hours before I left to make a completely new set that was double the length of the one I’d spent weeks putting together and was a completely different vibe due to my new timeslot. I was sweating bullets leading up to that show for sure, but it ended up being one of the most fun nights of my life.

What would you say is the perfect setting for a live performance?
Anywhere with a fully engaged crowd who’s open to receiving what you’re putting out there.

Which venue or festival would you like to perform at in the future?
EDC Las Vegas would be a dream.

What piece of advice would you give to a DJ that’s starting to perform live?
Learning DJ etiquette is almost as important as learning to DJ. The impression you give to the promoters and the other artists on the bill is a huge contributing factor to whether or not you’ll get booked again.

Follow Tensteps:
Website / Instagram / Soundcloud / Beatport

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