The build-up of life’s external pressures can often be overwhelming. The need to please others and jam-pack our daily schedules leave us with little time to focus on ourselves and discover what truly brings enjoyment out of our lives. The forced disconnection from the outside world during lockdowns have allowed us into our inner world.
For Darren Newby and Julie McLaren of Sweat Dreams DJs, they have used their lockdown time to alter their sound. The two were faced with mental challenges at the start of 2020 hitting roadblocks playing conservative disco to please crowds. The lockdowns breathed new life into their mixing as they allowed themselves to broaden their selection.
“I never thought during a pandemic where there were no parties and no crowds that it would when we’d start to succeed the most in DJing,” Darren shared. “We’ve been given the chance to start playing music that we really love as opposed to music that we need to for a crowd.”
Now, the pair have been hovering over the darker side of disco and worldly flavours like Arabic electronica. The expanded selection of songs enhances Sweat Dreams’ capabilities in a live setting. Catering for more tastes they’ll be able to play across a variety of events, navigating through different moods and genres as they please.
The Sweat Dreams story coincidentally starts on the dance floor. After a few fleeting encounters, Darren and Julie’s shared love for music, dancing and dressing up sparked a close bond.
“I’ve always said through our relationship together that I’ve never thought I’d be with someone who outdresses me every time”, Julie said. “I’ve always been the one who wears the most sequins or has the loudest outfit, but now I have a partner who does that.”
Nights together mixing at home developed their skills to play at local Ballarat nightclubs. Their growing regional presence grabbed the attention of bookmakers, scoring them a place in Melbourne’s nightlife scene and on the billing of Grampians Music Festival and Falls Festival in 2019.
A major drawcard for the bookings they’re landing is the fun atmosphere they bring on stage. Born performers, the dance floor reaches another level from the way they engage with the crowd with their crazy dress-ups and carefree dancing. Whilst taking deep care in their selections, the pair understand that this doesn’t mean they have to take themselves seriously.
“Life’s too short to take yourself too seriously,” Darren said. “I’ve just loved dancing, always have and I make no apologies for my dancing on stage. It might not be cool, but I’m okay with that.”
Amidst the wild dancing, there’s transparency. From the way the duo performs, it’s evident that they love what they’re doing. Entering a gig as a punter it’s easier to interact with the music if the DJ or band is clearly into it as well. The two are lost in the music and aren’t playing anything because it’s popular or it’ll get them gigs, they’re doing it because they believe in the music and want to transport others into their world.
During the twilight stages of Victoria’s second lockdown, Darren and Julie spun together a mix to continue our T-Rex Soundcast series. The mix exhibits how they’ve been able to pull themselves out of any ‘disco-only’ connotations during lockdown. It provides a brief spotlight into the depth that these two study music with its celebration of the best of the current international and local scene (there’s even a slight nod to Jon Jones’ Soundcast with us in October).
With dance floors starting to resurface, it won’t be long before you see these two behind the decks. Sweat Dreams’ attention to detail and understanding of the layers that create a connective live music experience enriches the colourful underground scene we are so lucky to have.
To find more from Sweat Dreams DJs: