Sometime in 1998 or so, I had gone for a disc jockeying gig which I had been paid a deposit for.
I was to collect my balance immediately after the job. My plan was to use part of the money to transport myself and my gadgets back home.
But the people who hired me disappeared with my balance.
So, I decided to carry some of my equipment on my head and I trekked from Beesam through the Airport Road to the Nigeria Air Force (NAF) Base - all in Lagos.
A good friend, till date, who was also my senior in secondary school, named Gabriel Moyaki, saw me. He said jokingly in pidgin English: 'See DJ wey dey trek up and down with him speakers.'
Before long, I started being referred to by my pals as DJ Trekkie. Later, it became DJ Trekson and then DJ Trekkers.
At first, I was angry, but I decided to modify it myself as DJ Trex and adapted it as my trade name which I use till date.
This is Ochuko
My real name is Moses Ochuko Madagwa. Ochuko means "God provides my support" in the language of Urhobo people of Delta State which I am one of. We are from the famous steel town of Aladja in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State.
Although I was born in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on the ninth of October, 1973, because my father, Emmanuel Bethel Madagwa, an aeronautical engineer, was then serving there with the Air Force. My mum, Doris, formerly Miss Opeke, was a petty trader there. Sadly, she died in 2010.
Together, they had eight children, five boys and three girls, but only three boys and two girls are surviving: our last boy died at the age of two years; the last girl at age ten while the first born, a male, died a few years ago.
I was the fourth born but with the passing of our first born, I became the third.
I was the last to be born in Port Harcourt. The rest were born in Benin City, in what was then known as Bendel State and now Edo State, where my dad was transferred to when I was about three years old.
It was in Benin that I started primary school, at Ezomo Primary School.
I left in Primary Three when my dad was transferred to Lagos and continued and finished at Ewu Tuntun Primary School, Mafoluku, Oshodi.
In Ezomo, I performed well above average as I held between the first and third positions throughout but when I moved to Lagos I dropped to fifteenth as I became involved in footballing and other sports.
My disciplinarian-dad tried to flog me back to brilliance, and my mum too, but she kept encouraging me to work harder to improve my performance. I improved only but a little.
However, I loved using my hands because I grew up watching my dad construct all sorts, and fixing our radio when it developed faults.
I wanted to be like him.
In love with music
When I was in Junior Secondary School (JSS) One at Ewu Tuntun Grammar School, also in Mafoluku, which I was admitted into in 1986, I bought a Walkman cassette player at the Oshodi Market, using my savings from helping my mum in her petty trading, and dismantled and reassembled it. It was a great feeling.
I also loved music by playing the records my dad had at home. They were mainly the highlife genre, by Nigerian and Ghanaian musicians.
I loved music so much that anytime I went to church (God Kingdom Society, Ajegunle), I would sit besides the choir. I never had the opportunity to join that choir.
My mum and dad were choristers and I wanted to go into singing because I used to have a good voice but I lost it one day when our first born beat me as a punishment for beating my younger sister. Later, I had a brief opportunity to be in the choir at the God's Kingdom Mission, Ijanikin.
Anyhow, I decided to play instruments if I could not sing.
I taught myself how to play piano.
I later started a training on it but I did not complete it as I got admission into the Federal Polytechnic Ado Ekiti, where I bagged a national diploma in business administration.
By the way, I had wanted to attend the University of Maiduguri because I had a girlfriend, whose dad was also a soldier and we had grown up together at NAF Base, then schooling in Maiduguri. But I did not get the admission, which was why I was opted for the Ado Ekiti polytechnic which I had chosen in my JAMB (Joint Admissions Matriculation Board) form. Only that girlfriend, my brother and a friend knew why I had wanted to go to Maiduguri. For some other reasons, though, I parted ways with her.
What's a DJ who can't mix
Back to my love for music.
When I had bought that Walkman, I had also bought some tapes for my listening pleasure. Two years later, at Christmas time, my friends at the Base organised a party, and I took my tapes there and played some songs for them.
It soon became like a routine.
Then I had to find how to improve, because to change from one song to the other meant that people had to stop dancing and continue after starting the next song. No, no.
Then, my older brother, Blessing, travelled to Greece for a basketball competition and returned with a CD player which I started playing with at home whenever he went for his training. He was my parents' second son. He played basketball for the Lagos Islanders before representing Nigeria at the Junior World Cup and the Olympics before travelling out to play in Greece.
I started mixing songs between the CD player and the cassette player and it was so much fun.
I started deejaying for friends and family and the love for the job began to grow.
As years passed by, we started organising street jams at the NAF Base (now renamed Sam Ethnan Airforce Base) and award nights between blocks of flats and that was where I got my first payment for deejaying.
The year was, I think, 1994. I went on to work for a man called "Oga George" who happened to be a DJ, though he was also a soldier. He always called me to handle some gigs for him and he paid me for them.
However, something happened about two years later which made me to go and train to be a professional DJ.
A man called "Coach Egbe" who happened to be one of our football coaches at the Base mocked me in the midst of some of my friends that I was not a DJ but an operator because I was not a professional.
Mastering the craft
I might not have the right or standard tools - I was mixing songs with CD and cassette players - but I made people dance and have fun. All the same, he motivated me to step up my game: to upgrade from an amateur to a professional.
I was determined to succeed. Oh, I was.
I went to the Godfather Studio at Arowojobe, around Oshodi and met the DJ - DJ Currupt/ Ebong - and the manager - DJ Larry D - and told them I wanted to learn how to play professionally.
I was told to pay the sum of ten thousand Naira for some lessons. I returned there a week later with the money and was told that I would have the training thrice a week.
Whilst I was receiving my lessons, I also was practising at home with a record player I had bought from my savings.
This was around late 1996.
After about two weeks of intensive practice at home, I became perfect with the lessons that I got from the studio and I also listened to tapes of different DJs to get different styles of mixing, to create my own unique style.
When after three weeks I went back to the Godfather Studio and I mounted the deck, they were amazed to see how well I played. I then told them it was my dream to be a DJ and I did not want anything to stop me.
From then on, I started getting gigs and borrowing records from them and I sometimes borrowed a record player too which was called MK2 then to add to mine, because you need two to do a perfect mix.
That was how disc jockeying started paying me.
On a roll, sort of
I started buying more gadgets when in 1997 I was on my one-year post-Ordinary National Diploma Industrial Attachment (IT) with the Punch Newspapers which was then still at Idi Mangoro, off the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway.
I was in the Accounts Department and I found out that the labourers who offloaded newsprint reels got paid some good money. So, after close of work at four O'clock, I would turn to a labourer. A few times when the newsprint was in short supply and came late, we would offload during work hours or early morning but usually we did it after close of work.
I must add that I got tips from the staff whose IOU requests I helped to fast-track.
After my IT, I was able to acquire most of the equipment I needed to start with as a pro.
I was able to show Coach Egbe that I was more than an operator. Rather than brood over it, I went to improve myself. I have him to thank for that.
As the saying goes, when you want to silence your perceived enemy, the best meal to serve them is success.
He could see my success because he was also a member of the Nigerian Air Force Band which always invited me to jam alongside it whenever the Officers' Mess had its Tombola Night or the Chief of Air Staff had a function in the Mess or even at Friday Makossa nights. I was the Official DJ at the Mess.
I was widely known at the Base and got invited to gigs. And in the surrounding neighbourhood like the Beesam place that contributed to the evolution of my trade name - DJ Trex.
But I remained focused on my dream and never, for once, allow the popularity to overwhelm me.
Big break, ups & downs
The first big job I did that changed the whole game for me was for a gentleman man from Senegal whom I performed for somewhere around Ajao Estate - again, around the Base - and got paid one hundred thousand Naira. We are talking of 2001.
It seemed like a dream to me then.
My fortunes changed for the better.
I have even lost count of the big jobs I have done ever since but my longest client remains Media Vision Limited, a sports marketing company which organises various games including the Nigerian Bankers' Games, Nigerian Insurance Games, Nigerian Telecommunications Games, FMCG Games and corporate Champions league. I have been their DJ for nearly 13 years and the partnership has been a wonderful experience. I have also been working, since 2014, for the Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE).
I DJed for a while during the Comedian Ay's talent hunt show tagged Talent Hunt when it held at the National Arts Theatre, Iganmu.
During the Akinwunmi Ambode Administration in Lagos State, I played at the Lagos Got Talent show as well as at the Lagos Carnival at the Epe and Ikorodu Centres.
I have also played for Ushbebe Comedian's Show called Ya Daddy in both Lagos and Uyo Akwa Ibom State.
When it was time to go for my higher national diploma, I could not return to Ado Ekiti soon after completing my IT because my dad had some issues at his work place which details you would please permit me to leave out. Things became somewhat difficult.
I continued working and in 2003 I sought and got admission into the Yaba College of Technology, because I did not want to be far away from my clientele. I completed the programme in 2005.
Although I did some gigs in school which earned me some money, I have my late brother to thank for his support throughout the time.
My worst experience on being a DJ was once when I had a gig but first went with my friends to a Christmas party at Ajao Estate usually organised by a former neighbour of mine who worked at Aero Contractors airline, named Gbolahan Dunmade. After taking a few bottles of lager beer, I decided to rest a little before going for my gig but before I left for the party I told a friend who was working with me then to do the setup before I returned but, behold, I slept till about 11pm. I was confused because there was no way to get to the venue because I could not get transportation and the worst part was that the friend I left to do the setup could not mix.
The gig was for some soldiers. I had to switch off my phone and used another number to call my friend to tell him what to do. I hid from the clients for about a week before I went to explain what happened.
From that day, I stopped drinking alcohol before going for any gig. Never again: I learnt my lesson.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, things became rough for me because there was no single gig throughout.
But thank God for family and friends, especially my classmates, who supported me. After the lockdown was eased, I discovered a neighbour going to the market with her car to transport goods for people and I later joined her with my car and it was a bit lucrative but after a while, more people took to the business and it became too crowded and making money became difficult.
So, I opted to carrying passengers to Oshodi and back to Abule Egba. It went on until the Lagos State Government introduced the BRT buses on that route thus crashing the prices of transportation.
After a while, my lovely wife, Tricia Nkem Madagawa, brought an opportunity which helped us to pull money together to buy a car which I have been using for ride-hailing services.
But, with things back to normal, I have returned to what I know how to do best: disc jockeying. Nonetheless, one lesson COVID-19 taught me is that it is wise to have different streams of income.
So far, I have trained eight people, four of whom are still active.
Beyond all the money I make from the job, it is seeing people being happy on the dance floor that gives me the most satisfaction.
I am thankful to God for helping me to live my dream.
I am also thankful to my father whose disciplinarian streak has helped me to be on the straight and narrow path. Whenever the thought of misbehaving crosses my mind and I remember the home I am from, my brain resets immediately.
My story will not be complete if I do not appreciate my childhood friend and neighbour Benjamin, for being always supportive.
When you think of having a DJ, think of DJ Trex. My number is +2348023275155.
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