How to get DJ gigs with Your Shot finalist - Excavator

It all started in 2014 for Your Shot finalist Aaron Pantazis, otherwise known as Excavator, a Melbourne Hardstyle DJ and producer. Since the competition, Aaron has gone from strength to strength, becoming a resident DJ for Sanctuary Saturdays run by Evolution Events, Teknoman Events, PHD, Hard Kandy and Paradox Fridays. In this interview, Aaron tells us about his journey so far and his secret to becoming a full-time DJ, getting DJ gigs and living the dream of a music lifestyle.

Excavator playing for transgression events

Excavator playing for transgression events

Excavator Interview


Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: Aaron, my first question to you for our readers, is what inspired you to become a DJ and get into the field of music production?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: I have always loved music for as long as I can remember and began listening to Trance when I was 10 years old! I was then introduced to Hardstyle after my cousin gave me the Promo CD from Showtek’s X-Qlusive event at Festival Hall back in 2008, and I fell in love with the genre ever since!

I went to my first ever Trance event in 2009, which was Majik Anthems at Billboards and was amazed at the culture and people’s love for the music. Godskitchen Boombox Tour then followed that same year in October, and I was absolutely blown away by that show! The following week, my best mate took me to Bubble nightclub, and I was amazed at the music I would hear every week from my personal faves at the time, Dean D and DJ Tensai!

Excavator at PHD Melbourne

Excavator at PHD Melbourne

The main driving force to become a DJ and Producer for me was when I went to Majik Saturdays every weekend and watched the crowd reaction when either DJ Kat, Jewelz or H.U.S would drop bomb after bomb that would have the crowd going crazy. I often imagined myself in the same position as those guys, and it was my dream to one day play to a crowd at Room 680 and Bubble (The Bottom End) and try to make each set unforgettable! The main driving force behind production, however, was the uniqueness and expression of my interpretation of music. On top of that, I was doing everything I could to avoid a corporate job which was my previous career. As the old saying goes – do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: How would you best describe yourself as an artist?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: As an artist, I would describe myself as extremely passionate, obsessive and a perfectionist. I try my best to present something unique and unforgettable with each performance I have, as well as ensuring the crowd is loving it as much as I am!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: How was your personal experience in the Your Shot competition back in 2014?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: The Your Shot competition in 2014 really changed my life for the better without question. It was an experience that I will never, ever forget. It was great in the fact that the instructors teach you the basics of mixing in terms of beat-matching, phrasing and effects, however, I honestly did not think 8 three hour sessions was enough practice before your first DJ gig! Well, not for me anyway! Having said that, the performance was extremely fun and an experience I will never forget. On top of that, making lifetime friends that I still see to this day!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: Any words of advice for upcoming Your Shot contestants?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: Yeah, definitely, when you go to the interviews at the Royal Melbourne Hotel, and it is your turn to sit face-to-face with the interviewer, just be 100% honest with them about why you want to become a DJ and everything that you’ve done so far to get there. If you are truly passionate and honest in what you say, that will shine through, and they will see that. Another big tip is if you have any music that you have produced, load it on your phone and show them during the interview!

Excavator Logo (1132 x 344)

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: Since Your Shot back in 2014 you have gone from strength to strength playing multiple DJ gigs every week. How did you get involved and established so quickly in Melbourne’s clubbing scene?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: Not many people know this, but I originally started out playing Trance and received my first opportunity to join a crew with Trancegression Events!  I received such amazing support from them and help and guidance with DJ training from James Houlis and Ruth (DJ Artemis).

Excavator at Bubble Nightclub Melbourne

Excavator at Bubble Nightclub Melbourne

I was then fortunate enough to be approached by Teknoman (Fantasy) as a recommendation from a mate I made from Your Shot (Jono Hain – one-half of Dystopia) to play a Hardstyle set at Fantasy Old School! I was then recommended by Jono once again to Evolution Events one week before Sanctuary Saturdays started, and was given an opportunity in the Side Room alongside Dystopia at Sanctuary’s second ever night supporting Kyau & Albert!

I was extremely lucky and fortunate at the time I started my career, as well as receiving recommendations from Jono for the events at Fantasy and Evo. I made it my mission just simply to meet as many of the organisers as I could at every DJ gig I played at to personally thank them for the opportunity and faith they put in me. On top of that, still to this day, I try my absolute best to put as much effort in to involve myself away from the night with each group with which I work.

On top of these factors, I have always treated the position that I am in with respect and with each opportunity that I have been presented with, I have treated it as making a first impression each and every time. Still to this day, I play each set as if I am trying to making a first impression.

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: What were some of your biggest challenges getting into the scene and how did you overcome them?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: I believe some of the biggest challenges I faced entering the scene were building a network from scratch and investing many hours of study and research into everything DJ and music production related that I could find. I overcame these challenges by going to as many Trance and Hardstyle events as possible and ensuring I met as many people in the industry as I could to build not only a professional relationship, but also amazing friendships along the way. Many people that I have met in the industry I now consider family and wouldn’t change it for the world.

Excavator invaders

Excavator invaders

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: What are your thoughts on Melbourne’s clubbing scene and do you think it’s hard to get DJ gigs from your point of view?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: I often look back at when I was 18; starting to go out to Trance and Hardstyle events and cannot think any higher of the scene than where it is right now. As much as myself and many others loved the scene back then, it really is in an amazing period right now! We have awesome Hardstyle parties most Friday nights hosted by PHD and Hard Kandy, which feature international artists. The scene has really matured in that aspect. Furthermore, we have an amazing weekly trance club in Sanctuary Saturdays, which a lot of the time has one, if not more internationals featuring as well as many themed nights. On top of this, I’m extremely excited with Shadows of Wonderland coming up at the end of the month! I believe this event will put Melbourne on the map internationally, and various other large events could soon follow!

I think regarding the difficulty in getting DJ gigs, it all comes down to how much effort you put in. A lot of it revolves around marketing and networking and just making the absolute most of each opportunity you receive. Having said that, you should also be confident in yourself that what you’re doing is at a competent level and be proud of your achievements, no matter how big or small. One simple tip I can give is when opportunity knocks, kick that door right open!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: What do you say to the young DJ’s at home desperately wanting to play their first DJ gig or get booked more regularly to play? What advice can you give them?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: My advice would be building an online presence and your DJ skills to a level where you would feel comfortable performing in a club. As simple as that sounds, it is extremely important in the social media age we live in today, where everything you need is at your fingertips! Another piece of advice is to go to the club you want to play at and try meet any of the people involved in the company running the event – whether it’s a DJ, promoter, organizer, etc. The great thing about the scene at the moment now is just how friendly everyone is, and if you don’t get a chance to meet anyone listed above, a simple Facebook message will go a long way in showing that you’re keen for an opportunity.

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: Who are the biggest inspirations for your music career?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: My biggest inspirations would have to be fellow Aussie Hardstyle producers Code Black, Audiofreq, and Toneshifterz as well as Technoboy, Tuneboy, Atmozfears, Zatox, Noisecontrollers, Brennan Heart and Frontliner. I believe those guys are really on another level production-wise with their sound design, amazing melodies and ideas. They are massive inspirations for me! Marlo is also a massive inspiration for myself with how he has made every Melburnian proud, putting us on the map with his relentless work ethic and amazing tracks that he has produced over the past few years.

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: What is your dream?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: My dream is to follow in Code Black and Audiofreqs footsteps by moving to the Netherlands and playing at festivals in Europe and all over the world. Together as Bioweapon, they put Australian Hardstyle on the map, and I really want to put Melbourne on the map in the same way. My number one dream would be to create the Defqon Anthem and perform on the Main Stage in the Netherlands!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: This is one for the music producers. What is your favourite VST plugin and why?


Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: My favourite VST plugin would have to be the wavetable synthesizer Serum, which is created by Steve Duda at Xfer Records. It is an extremely powerful and versatile synth in combination with being a sound designer’s dream. From leads to pad sounds and basses and plucks, you could create a whole track using this one synth, I think. Having said that, though, it can be a bit draining on your CPU!

Mike Power (The DJ Disclosure)

Q: What has been your favourite DJ gig and why?

Aaron Pantazis (Excavator)

A: This question is extremely difficult to answer because each gig has been memorable in its own way. The one that really sticks out to me since I started was the vs set with Paralyzer on NYE. I met Donny (Paralyzer) at Swinburne Uni back in 2012, and we became mates because we both loved Hardstyle and made a deal with each other that would both DJ at the same parties in the future! In addition to that amazing night, my first headline gig at Zombie Nation for Paradox Fridays is up there with one of my favourites due to the theme of the night, on top of it being a packed house at Sorry Grandma!

In addition to these parties the 6am-8am closing vs set with LCK at the Atlantis After Party in 2015 is up there too as well as closing the Main Room at the Subculture After Party straight after Will Atkinson and Senijder. Lastly, my closing set after Josh Lang at Ultraglow Paint Party last year is something I’ll never forget because that was one of the wildest crowds I’ve ever seen!

Thanks for a rippa of an interview mate and best of luck for the future.

Follow Excavator on:

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/excavatorofficial

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/excavator_dj/

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/aaron-pantazis

WORDPRESS: https://djexcavator.wordpress.com/