Chester became a regular DJ at most raves from 1995 onwards. He was known for his uplifting morning sets that would get the crowd back on their feet and going off. He could often be seen at the Breakfast Club as well as the Sundaze recoveries at the Pavilion 'the Pav' Hotel. He has taken some time to talk to SRH's Mandy V about how he cracked the Sydney scene and became a successful DJ.
Fav Party Carnival of the Mind, with Meat Beat Manifesto, Eveleigh Train yards (the Haunted Fishtank was amazing), I like walking into a venue and be blown away by the surroundings; this party and location were absolutely incredible.
Fav Venue Fav venue I’ve been to was Eveleigh train yards. Fav venue to play: even though we did our first Eckythump in 95 at the Wheat solos, I’d have to say my fav venue would be The Superdome.
Fav Genre Again another tough one, definitely have to split this up, House Classics - has to be ’94-'98 House, Hi Energy Italian/Euro - '93-’96.
Fav DJ Jeremy Healy.
When and how did you start DJing. Tell us about the early days.
I started buying records early late ‘93 and started gathering a collection of Italian House and Hi Energy, It was November 1994 and my girlfriend at the time was turning 21, we decided it would be great to have her party at the Hardcore Cafe.
So we went ahead and hired the venue for our own private little rave, there was about 40 or 50 of us and we had some no-name bedroom bangers that were friends of friends DJing for us. With the record collection I had I thought I’d just give it a go. The dance floor was frequently used by a few here and there, but most of us were sitting around and indulging in the kind of talk you talk when you are having a really REALLY GREAT night.
It was my turn to jump on the decks, I started playing and let's just say that I wasn’t good at beat mixing, in fact, I didn’t even know how to turn the goddamn deck on. I was mixing (fading) away having a great ol’ time then people just came from everywhere. Next thing the room was jammed solid. I was totally blown away and people were screaming, thankfully in a good way.
Halfway through my set, a totally famous Sydney DJ (for me anyway) was sitting behind me on his record box and he was like: ‘Hey dude, I’m up next!’. I was like: ‘Really sorry pal but this is my party and I’m not about to jump off right now’. He said: ‘DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM’, and I said: ‘Yes, Richie (Akira), I know exactly who you are, but this is too amazing to give up, even to you!’.
Tony Papworth made his way over to me at some stage and said who the F#@K are you, I told him, and he said to me: ‘Well done, this place hasn’t gone off like this for ages, I was totally blown away. Later that night a guy came up to me, Naton Ramsay, who I had met through friends of friends that night. He asked me to DJ at the very first Sundaze Recovery the next day at Sydney Park. I was like: ‘Dude, I don’t even know how to mix’. He said: ‘Doesn’t matter, you have the tunes’.
Needless to say, I turned up, played great tunes badly and saw all the regular DJs lined up the wall while I was playing, laughing at my bad mixing attempts: Sub Zero, Akira, Gee Wiz and the rest of the gang. Thanks lads, I’ll never forget that moment.
Do you still do any gigs now?
Raves - NO Chance
Do you still have your vinyl?
Sure do - sold a few doubles a while back, still have 90% of my collection stored at a mate’s house, thanks David!
How did you get into the scene?
Started going to parties with friends in 93, then the friends stopped going, so I went by myself, met a bunch of people, some of whom remain some of my closest friends today and are for life!
Were you a raver then DJ?
Yes, raver first, DJ second, seeing the scissor lift at Space Cadet in Alexandria film studios was when I noticed the power of the DJ.
When did you get your first big break mixing at a rave?
The very first Utopia. I got a call half way through the night saying that Jade wasn’t going to make it and I jumped at the chance.
What style were your sets?
Definitely hi-energy Italo anthems, although when I started playing, that style of music was still current and not classed as anthems.
Was there a highlight that sticks out?
DJing at Happiest People in the World 3. I wasn’t billed to play, but Herb said: ‘Bring your records just in case’. Geoff Chef and I were par-ta-ying, (if you get my drift) in the VIP room, it was around 6:45, Herb ran and said: ‘Chester, you’re on’. WTF, I just started par-ta-ying, holy crap! So I got to the decks and I swear everything just clicked, from the very first track all the way to the end. Everybody within distance of the deck was trying to get me to come and dance, it was just simply going off, or at least that’s my interpretation of it!
Did DJs get paid much back then?
Mmmm, it was pretty good I must say, for doing something that you love. Shit, I would have done it for nothing, and I’m pretty sure most of us would.
How do you think Sydney DJs rated internationally? Do you think we had a certain style unique to the Sydney scene?
Oh, definitely rated highly in my opinion, Pee Wee, Paul Holden, Nik Fish, Mark Dynamix and Jumping Jack were all killing it. The fact they are all still doing what they love is testament to their passion for music.
What do you listen to now?
I love everything from lounge/chillout to deep house and cracking big-room house pumpers.
Any funny stories you can tell us about DJing or going to parties in general in the 90s?
Pretty sure this was at a Tribal party at Burrows Rd. They had a gyro out the front and God knows why people went on it. But inside that party I remember seeing this old guy who I’d seen at parties previously, but this time he decided that he was going to run around without any pants on, and let’s just say he was a little excited to be there, if you get my drift.
What are you up to these days?
I live at Bondi Beach, have done so ever since I could afford to move out of home, I’m married and have a beautifully awesome 2 year old boy named Bo Sunny Chesters and recently had our second son, Jett!
I also run my own creative agency called Vibrandt in Surry Hills!
Thanks for talking to us Chester