Careers in music: Disc Jockeys (Exclusive Interview with DJ Jason Tolson)

If you have children heading into Secondary 1 next year, you probably already know about the Direct School Admission (DSA-Sec). More details will be out on the MOE website at the end of April 2024. Meanwhile, let us take a look at the info we already know.


What is DSA-Sec?

Eligible Primary 6 students can seek admission into select secondary schools based on a range of talents such as

  • * Sports and games
  • * Visual, literary, and performing arts
  • * Debate and public speaking
  • * Science, Mathematics, and Engineering
  • * Languages, and Humanities
  • * Uniformed groups
  • * Leadership

Eligible students get to apply to their DSA-Sec school of choice before taking the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). If shortlisted, they will then go through auditions and a selection process scheduled by the secondary school.
Once your child(ren) is admitted to a secondary school through DSA-Sec, they are not allowed to submit school choices during the Secondary 1 posting process, and they cannot transfer to another school (they must commit to their chosen school for the duration of the programme).


Children who excel in music can consider taking up the 4-year Music Elective Programme (MEP) offered by Dunman High School (Secondary), and Temasek Junior College (Secondary). The MEP curriculum, which includes:

  • * An extended, and balanced Music curriculum comprising the development of skills in Listening, Creating, Performing, and Research
  • * An in-depth study of Asian, Classical, Jazz, Popular, and Multimedia genres
  • * Access to specialised facilities such as practice studios, music technology equipment, and other resources such as scores and audio-visual materials
  • * Some degree of customisation (dependent on school and centre) to reflect unique strengths and needs
  • * Opportunities to learn and collaborate with MEP students from other schools, and take Higher Music syllabus at O-Level

is designed for musically-inclined students, and aims to help students embark on their journey as practitioners, scholars, advocates, and leaders in the arts.

Want to bloom and flourish in music? Come explore with Bloom School of Music & Arts!
We offer various individual music programmes such as piano, violin, guitar, drum, and ukulele.
Send a WhatsApp message to +65 9278 3315 for more information!


Do you have the passion for music, but do not quite know which area you would like to specialise in? Let us explore some careers in music!

First up on our list is probably the fun-nest (to receive)! In my youth, I enjoyed dancing in the clubs. As I get older, I prefer to chill out in a bar with good music. Key word being “good”: What is a disc jockey (DJ/deejay), and what makes a good DJ?
I’m so thrilled to chat with Jason Tolson, and find out the behind-the-scenes, and challenges of being a DJ. Read on for our interview (email interview has been edited for clarity and continuity):


Hi Jason, tell us about you!

Hi, my name is Jason Tolson, also known by my DJ stage name Timo-J. I’ve been a DJ for 26 years, and I’ve also been an events emcee for about 15 years.

How did you get started with deejaying?

I started out as a karaoke jockey back in the late 90s. I was the guy responsible for arranging the karaoke videos for people to sing in bars upon request.

After a few months, I felt unsatisfied with just playing karaoke videos, and started playing music in between. I took a liking to it, and decided to learn how to mix music as a DJ.

I was fortunate enough to find a DJ to teach me the fundamentals. Shout-out to my first mentor, DJ Taz. My career started from there.


What skills/qualifications do you need to become a disc jockey?

There are no qualifications required to be a DJ, but there are definitely several degrees of skills that are required:

  • * You need to be able to count bars and beats per minute (bpm)
  • * You will need to understand music structure and have a wide knowledge of music in general
  • * You will need to be able to read the crowd; which songs work/will work, and which do not/will not
  • * You will need to be able to do voice-overs or “hype up” the crowd with a microphone



What is a day in the life of Timo-J like?

On an event day, I try to wake up early, and have a proper breakfast.
I usually do an equipment check to make sure that I have everything packed and ready to go.
I would also check my emails for any updates to the event schedule, and check for any last minute song requirements.
I try to have a late lunch when I can, because dinner only happens after the event is over, or when I get home.
I like to be at the venue at least 45 minutes to an hour before show time, so I have ample time to set up my gear, and do a sound check.
At the end of the event, I prefer to go home and wind down.


Are there any struggles you face as a DJ? 
What are the challenges of choosing deejaying as a career?

I started out in a bar, and after NS (National Service), in the club scene. Back then, the struggle was getting my name recognised, and getting a residency. Becoming a resident DJ in a prominent club was the holy grail of DJs back in those days. I was blessed when I was given an opportunity to become a resident DJ at a big club called dbl O.

These days, the struggle and the challenges are similar. It has been 9 years since I stopped deejaying in clubs full-time, and shifted my focus to deejaying for events as a freelancer.

The reality is, there are many DJs in Singapore, and not enough events. So, gigs are few and far between. Some of the more prominent full-time event DJs get work regularly, but for freelancers like myself, it is not as frequent.



Do you have any tips for our young musicians, and for those who want to learn the ropes of a disc jockey?

  • * Try to learn mixing using turntables with records or CD players. This would force you to accustom yourself to using your ears when beat matching. These days, with technology, DJs can use software such as Serato DJ or Rekordbox which have visual aids, making mixing easier, but there may be situations where you might have to rely on only your ears. If you rely on visual aids to mix, it won’t help you in the long run, or in cases of technical difficulties such as laptop crashes
  • * Learn how to set-up your DJ console. This will help you to obtain knowledge on troubleshooting when issues arise
  • * Subscribe to records pools such as DJ City. You will be able to find new music and remixes for your sets
  • * Take care of your personal branding. Find a unique stage name, make sure that you dress the part, and conduct yourself professionally
  • * Try not to drink when you deejay. Some DJs can only perform with alcohol in their system. This is not only unhealthy, but could also impair your judgement
  • * Have fun!

Be humble. The downfall of many a DJ is a big ego. There will always be someone better than you.

Timo-J (Jason Tolson)



Who is your favourite musician, and what are your favourite genres of music?

I actually grew up listening to Metal. Metal has always been a part of my life, and I still go to Metal gigs today.

As a DJ, I have always loved Urban music such as hip-hop, R&B, and Dancehall to name a few. Some favourite artistes would be Bone Thugz N Harmony, UGK, TI, and so on.


What would you like to say to our aspiring DJs, and musicians?

Make friends in the industry. A good reputation, and good connections with people will make your DJ career a little easier.

Say humble always, and be sure to enjoy the craft and art form.



If you would like Timo-J to DJ or emcee for your events, here is where to find him!





I hope that this post has been a helpful and insightful one! Stay tuned as we continue to discover other careers in music.
Regardless of the music career you decide to take on in future, remember to nurture your passion and talent. And you will eventually arrive with flourish.