Beat generation: Young DJs and producers hone dance music skills at Edmonton summer camp

A summer camp in Edmonton aims to fill a gap by teaching the skills of DJing and producing electronic dance music (EDM).

For the second year, Night Vision Music Academy has started up its electronic dance music summer camp. The group hosts youth between the ages of 10 and 17 for a week at a time, teaching them how to DJ and produce EDM.

The instructors use their experience of DJing and producing to start with the basics and guide the teens to create music and collaborate while getting used to performing.

A summer camp is filling a gap in music instruction in Edmonton, teaching youth how to dj and produce electronic dance music. 2:24

In the current session, the youngest student is 11 and has attended the camp in previous years. The oldest of the five students is 16.

Phoenix Campbell, 14, has given the camp a shot after a recommendation by his father, who is a professional DJ. But said he wasn’t convinced he would like it until he started learning at the summer camp.

“I DJ almost every night now. I’ve learned more this week than I think I have all school year,” Campbell said.

Jake Robertz, the camp’s production instructor, says the camp fills a gap when it comes to music instruction in Edmonton. He said many DJs and producers are self-taught and can pick up bad habits.

“There’s nothing really here like this. For DJing, I don’t think there’s anything like it. If you wanted to learn, you’d need to find another DJ,” Robertz said. 

Two students of the the Night Vision Music Academy’s electronic dance music summer camp get a lesson from Jake Robertz in music production. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

He says enrolment is usually encouraged by the parents of students who want to try a different type of music lessons, but students often have curiosity and interest from the media they consume.

“I know a lot of them are really into gaming and there’s a lot of Twitch gamers that you watch and they like to put on music, which is usually electronic or DJ mixes,” Robertz said.

At the end of a weekly camp, students perform a DJ set, and play tracks in front of an audience live on the streaming platform Twitch.