Making It Happen #3 – APOLLO

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We often have students asking “how can I make my passion for music into a career?” Now as you can imagine this is a pretty broad question. There are so different paths that can lead you to this ultimate goal, but the million-dollar question is what will work best for you.
‘Making It Happen’ is an interview series that focuses on locals that have managed to make music not only their passion but also their career. We hope that this allows you to see absolutely anything is possible with the right approach.
Apollo aka Josh Thompson has been at the forefront of the house music scene here in Brisbane for the past 10 years. In this interview, we visit his humble beginnings as a bedroom DJ right through to the present day where he works full time as the main resident DJ and booking manager for Prohibition Nightclub.

First of all, can you tell us about the very first moment you realised that you have a love for house music? 
I was a bit of a late bloomer to dance music. I used to listen to a bit of everything, but my knowledge of house and electro started back in 2007.
After a great night at the Monastery, I fell in love with house music immediately and continued to go back there over and over again learning the music, meeting people and watching the talented resident DJs.I ended up getting a job there a year later as a glassy.
You have been a staple in the Brisbane scene for as long as we can remember. What influenced you to start DJing and how did you go about getting your first gig?
I met a mate of mine back in 2008, we clicked and he was very happy to show me everything. I learnt on Denon CDJs with plastic cue buttons and practiced relentlessly. I then became friends and moved in with local DJs Clifton and Ricky. They had Pioneer 1000’s and going from the Denons to those was incredibly easy for me.
After mixing hours on end with those lads I realised I was alright at this and had my own style etc. A few months later all 3 of us entered the Central Battle DJ Comp at Electric Playground. I was knocked out first round but before I left the venue I was asked by the promoter to play on their outside stage every week playing tech-house. The rest is history.
A few years on you started a successful music blog with a close mate, how did you come up with the idea and concept for that? And how did that lead to you having access to bigger and better gigs?
Back in 2008/2009 it was a different landscape. Social media was obviously a massive tool but the promoter DJ had only really just started and the blog was a way to have a point of difference. There was only 1 other blog in Brisbane, which I wasn’t really a fan of so I decided to create my own.
A lot of this was actually getting the chance to write questions and ask DJ’s from all over the world what gave them their big break, what they had coming up, what DAW they used etc etc. After a while, the blog got bigger and bigger and came in handy when selling tickets to festivals and promoting shows locally and interstate which was very appealing for local club promoters.

Your sets at prohibition over the last few years are becoming the thing of legend. When did you start playing at this hub of house music and how does it shape you as a DJ to play to a full room, week in, week out?
Why thanks 🙂 It is still easily my favourite place to play! I started playing at Prohibition just a few months after the opening, playing House and Party. It has definitely changed a lot over the past four years years but it has been fun teaching the crowd what house music has to offer and witnessing the change in the crowd, and their music tastes over such a long period of time.
We definitely have a sound now and it’s an honour to help shape that. It has also changed how I play in a way. DJ’ing full time for so many years, I ended up with a “Play to the venue” attitude where you get on the decks and get the job done! Put your pride away, you’re not going to get to play bangers or sometimes any tracks you really like but that’s life. Prohibition was that for me in the beginning but now I can’t wait to get up in that booth and still make sure the crowd leaves happy but also play what I love and try new things.
You recently had some great success with your latest production ‘underground vibe’ with Mark Maxwell climbing to #6 in the ARIA club charts! How important is it to have music released as an Australian artist?
It all depends on what you want to do I guess. Producing definitely isn’t my #1 desire. I love DJ’ing and playing music to big crowds. I feel like art shouldn’t be ignored in the future. Obviously, it helps 100% to have your own tunes but I’ve seen so many producers I’m a big fan of that are very average behind the decks. Both are just as important as the other.
Releasing music and collaborating is a great hobby and an awesome way to catch up with friends and have some fun! If we get some success out of the songs then that’s an incredible bonus.

Sax Drive is a fairly new concept between you and Sharif D, which has you on the decks and Sharif on the saxophone. How important is it to collaborate?
Really important! I love every minute sharing the stage with friends whether that be with Sharif killing it on the sax or having a sneaky b2b set with Mark Maxwell or Habebe- everything is better with friends!
Good friends we will help you become better and better without expecting anything in return. Be a good friend! You can get so much out of collaborating but it is super important to surround yourself with good, honest people and make sure whoever you are collaborating with are not just using you or your name for personal gain. It should be fun and not even feel like a “Collaboration”.
In your opinion how important is social media promo, and how can a newby make the most of this to get their foot into the door of the electronic music scene?
I think social media is slowly becoming less of a necessity. People are really over being bombarded with promo material from businesses and influencers so its really important to create your brand, have socials set up professionally so when people hear your music and see your shows they can easily find you and get a great first impression.
Don’t try and make it happen the other way round, that’s just annoying.
And last but not least what’s your favourite dance move?
Can’t go past the dice.
You can catch Josh playing every week at Prohibition Nightclub – Brisbane.

Jay Berry

Jay Berry

Founder of DJ Lab. I've been DJing, promoting and producing electronic dance music in Brisbane for the past 10 years. In my time I've taught many how to DJ and produce from beginner to pro level working with Pioneer, Logic, Abelton, Native Instruments and Xone products.
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