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ARTICLE
By Euan Lawrence.
If you’d told me back in 2008 – when I was a young, fresh-faced student – that 10 years later I would be starting my own business and growing it to become Scotland's biggest private event DJ agency, I would have said you were crazy. Because at that time I had no interest in DJing, or even really music.

Upon arriving in Edinburgh aged 18, I was quickly thrown into the world of nightclub promotion. It was down this path that I became an event DJ. Most DJs I’ve met have usually had it the other way around, becoming a DJ first and then moving into running events. My story is slightly different.

I ended up behind the DJ decks in the booth for the first time because a DJ who I’d booked never showed up. I had truly limited knowledge, just the few bits I’d picked up from watching other DJs over the previous months. But I took it upon myself to use the CDs lying in the booth to play to over 500 students. It was in this moment I had the realisation: Oh my God, I want to be a DJ.

Shortly after this, a friend of mine was opening a bar in the town where I was running events. And he asked me if I knew any DJs. I told him I could sort it. So that week I went to work and created a lineup of DJs, including myself DJing on the second night.

Fast forward to the bar’s opening night. One of the DJs I hired, Kevin, came in and did an exceptional job. I wrote down every song he played and that night I went home and downloaded them. The next night, I went into the bar and played exactly what he’d played, in the same order. And from there, I just had to figure it out.

I ended up playing the same set twice a week whilst I found my feet. First off, trying to learn how to mix the songs together. Secondly, changing the order of which I played those songs. Still the same songs though! I got more and more interested in how DJing worked – the beat matching, the understanding of what sounds cool. I had the curiosity to make my sets better, so I looked for new songs I liked that I thought would work. I started going into the bar when it was closed purely to practise. And slowly but surely, I got better at mixing. Six months later, I was DJing six nights a week, for thousands of students over three cities. All whilst also putting on my own events at which I would sometimes DJ too.

Between the ages of 18 and 26, I was able to do some amazing things in events. Playing at what was Scotland's biggest festival, T in the Park. Being in the booth with Grammy Award winner Bruno Mars. Warming up for Rudimental. Going on tour with voice of the club, Fatman Scoop. And being on the line up after the now-famous Gerry Cinnamon, who warmed up for me.
As every DJ knows, in between these highlights, it was a constant struggle to stay popular, in demand, bookable and wanted. Even though I was able to play across multiple cities, there was always a change of scenery and a change of DJ needed by the new club manager.

By the time I was 26, I was playing for kids who were eight years younger than me. I no longer enjoyed the late nights. The unsociable hours. And, let’s be honest, sometimes I got fed up with the music that I had to play. It was then that I decided to take what I now call a ‘sabbatical from DJing’.

By November 2017, I was working in corporate marketing and had been for well over two years. The problem was, I absolutely hated it. I needed a way out. And luckily for me, somebody who helped teach me how to use a microphone just so happened to need a DJ for a Christmas party at a hotel. This was something I’d never done before, but he was convinced that I could do it. So, I quit my job that day and I agreed to DJ for him.

By January, I had no job. I was back to square one. But looking back at the Christmas gigs, I’d really enjoyed them. Could I make this work? Maybe I could be an event or mobile disco DJ? I was 28 and not getting any younger. And realistically, I wasn't fresh enough to be in the clubs six nights a week. But what I did see was a lot of my friends starting to get engaged.
I started to consider couples who might want a fresher approach to their entertainment. I thought, there must be people out there who don’t want the traditional band that their parents had at their wedding. Guests wanted to hear music that they enjoyed when they were 18, when they were going out and partying. And that was when I conceived what is now the Tartan Entertainment Group.

I always knew I wanted to have the agency and a business that was bigger than just me, because that was just the entrepreneurial instinct that I’d had since I was 18 running my own club nights and marketing firm.
I had worked for DJ agencies on and off whilst DJing in nightclubs and I knew there was a possibility of me replicating that model within the wedding sector. All my DJ friends and colleagues were involved with nightclubs, so I had no qualms going after my competitors – it was definitely easier without any personal connections.

Falling back on my knowledge of marketing and skills in social media, I set up the company and went to work creating content from the get-go, thinking, how hard can this be? We took a strong approach to content creation, filming every event, which allowed us to quickly gain traction online.
Enquiries were flowing so fast that I could not keep up. Being booked was the much-needed challenge I was waiting for and we then welcomed the first two new members of Tartan Entertainment – DJs Paddy Gordon and Stephen Bennett. These two were a formidable pair, known in the industry.

Stevie, who is just a few years older than us, came from the same DJ background as myself, so we had a lot in common. He also understood the importance of Serato and quick mixing, which was important to the new-aged brides.

On the other hand, Paddy had the best sound system, the best lighting, and knew the importance of appearances to make an event look WOW. With this combination of specialisms, the three of us could rock any wedding.

Since 2019, Team Tartan has grown into a team of eight solid regular wedding DJs, a bunch of up-and-coming DJs who act as our roadies, and several live musicians who we regularly play alongside.

Although a testing time for our industry, Covid was a blessing in disguise. We were growing so quickly that I didn’t know how to manage the change. Having no gigs at all allowed me to focus on how to restructure the business and make it successful, including checking over our admin and implementing a CRM (customer relationship management) system. I also had time to network with venues and meet other suppliers.

I was one of the first DJs to stream live, before lockdown had even happened. With this new attention and traction online, I was able to maximise our exposure to become more well-known in the wedding industry. We started collaborating with venues to do live streams on their business pages, aimed at their brides and grooms.
Whilst performing at these venues – most notably, on the roof of a Victorian house with drones and everything! – we were able to develop the iconic ‘DJ and Sax’ power hour, obtaining thousands of views and hundreds of live viewers. During the period of six months, we’d put our DJ live experience on the map in Scotland.

Before I continue talking about the live music fusion aspects that we’ve become most known for in Scotland, I must shout out the team. The DJs: Callum Gallacher, Jonny Ruiz, Jordyn Kelly, Craig Pollock, Danny Dewar, Paddy Gordon, Stevie Bennett, Kris Murdy, Odi Letsholo and Elisha Mceleeny. The saxophonists: Trav Saxingh, Ewan Shades of Sax, Dave Towers, Tom B, Chris Crooky, Elliot G, Gavin, Gyan and Jesus. The percussionists: Dave, Dade and Will. And the roadies: Paul, Brad, Scott, Chris and Ben.
Having spent time DJing in Ibiza, I noticed there was a huge increase in demand for guests wanting a live music experience. In 2018 I teamed up with Saxophonist Tara Saixngh to make this a possibility. We became one of the first companies in Scotland to pioneer the DJ and sax option.

We produced and changed the dynamic of what we thought a sax performance alongside a DJ should be. Most notably in other parts of the country and the world, a saxophonist or any musician playing alongside the DJ would perform multiple sets across the evening. I always felt that this never flowed correctly and found that the novelty soon wore off. Between us, we decided to take a gamble and create a one-hour sax performance option. This was more than enough to capture the whole experience, as well as providing an uplifting moment to the dance floor.
This became known as the Power Hour® – one hour of live sax alongside a DJ playing uplifting dance EDM disco floor-fillers.

Having this package and promoting it using effective online channels allowed us to become the number-one company providing a DJ experience alongside live musicians that was not classed as a band. Due to demand, we had to find more sax players who not only understood what we were trying to do, but who could keep up with the energy and exciting experience we wanted to provide. We now have a team of nine sax players – and 2024 is definitely the year of the saxophonist!

With ever-changing trends, Tartan has always tried to stay ahead of the curve. This year we will focus on the percussion aspect, as well as introducing our brand-new horn section, which will perform alongside our DJs.
I'm forever trying to change the DJ live offering to keep it fresh and exciting for our events.One of the most notable experiences and changes we've made to our DJ offering has been the introduction of Meal till Midnight®, where the DJ starts by hosting dinner, introducing the speeches, creating a vibe throughout the meal, and then continuing the evening party all the way through until midnight. I took a detailed look at what was going on in America and England to find inspiration for how best to execute this approach. Shout out to some hosts and friends, such as DFC’s Robin Kershaw, SCE’s Nick Spinelli, and Pro Mobile favourite Pat Mulligan, for inspiring what we have done in Scotland now. We've taken the idea of a wedding host and put our own Scottish twist on it. And as most of you know, no one parties like the Scottish.

Harnessing the power of social media and focussing on constant content creation, we have gained an online following of over 20,000 and amassed over 20 million views. These numbers and investment in content have allowed us to branch out into bookings across the world. I am lucky enough to be performing in countries as far and wide as South Africa, Spain, France, Italy and Canada. And at the start of the year, I was flown out to DJ a wedding in Dubai.

Team Tartan is now bigger than ever and we're performing at over 250 weddings this year. I could not be prouder of the team I'm working with and the business that I’ve built. Unlike some DJ agencies, all the players who work with us get paid the same wage that they would charge their own clients. I believe it's important, because it builds brand loyalty and trust. In just six years, Tartan has become a staple in the Scottish wedding scene, working with some of the best venues the country has to offer.

As for me? I'm continuing to grow my personal brand, not just in the mobile DJ and events sector worldwide, but in business consultancy. I've always been an advocate for helping small businesses and many DJs need advice, especially when they’re first starting out. I certainly wish there had been more guidance available when I was starting my company, especially when it comes to social media and networking.

I want to thank the Pro Mobile team, Pete and Steve, for featuring me in this issue. Shout out to Mandela 2FOUR7 for convincing me to do this. And also Tony from Cosmopod for simply being the best guy with the best booths – I still rock his original Cosmopod from 2021. With every Tartan DJ now using one, I think you could say I’m his biggest fan.

Catch me on Instagram at @euanlawrence or check out the company’s content at @wearetartan on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.
The full review can be found in Pro Mobile Issue 124, Pages 16-21.
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