By Ben Triandafllou Photos Supplied
Mornington Peninsula-born DJ, Samuel Pulsford, has come a long way from teaching himself the basics in his bedroom to performing at one of Australia’s largest music festivals, Beyond The Valley, in 2019.
Just over eight years ago, the 21-year-old university student kicked off what has now become one of his key passions with a school laptop, a single DJ kit and the desire to create music similar to that of his favourite electronic artists.
Eventually saving up his money and improving his techniques, Pulsford progressively made his way from performing at his mates’ high school parties, to 18ths, 21sts and even weddings.
Pulsford said the reception he gets when DJing has been a major driving force as well as performing for, and alongside, some of his best mates.
“I think I obviously have a really strong passion for music and I also have a really big love for my friends and socialising with my friends so when you combine the two, and to get everyone smiling and dancing it’s always just an awesome vibe,” he said. Pulsford played at several underage events before lining up at his first proper gig at Motley Thursdays in his hometown of Mornington as a fresh 18-year-old.
The self-taught artist continued to play at clubs on the Peninsula such as Motley and Cruze before branching out further with his musical talent.
He says, unlike most professions, everything is basically self-taught when it comes to becoming a DJ.
“All of my learning was self-taught or learning from other DJs just by watching them and listening to them,” he said. “A lot of what I learnt, because I love it so much, was just me going out and watching DJs, listening to DJs, and wondering what they did and taking a lot of influence from what the really well-established people were doing.”
Pulsford had previously learnt the trumpet before trying his hand on the decks but eventually became proficient with the piano, synthesising and the drums – a lot of which he puts into his own music.
Taking inspiration over the years from Melbourne-based DJs such as Dirty South, Olly Davis, Bec Grenfell, Steve Ward and Denis Sulta, Pulsford now bases most of his music around the genre of house music, particularly progressive house, while drawing influence from techno and disco.
Even so, he says you can’t understate the importance of having lyrics in your set. “I’ve found that any track that you play live, it’s always twice as well received by the crowd if you have lyrics in it, so I’ll always mix in as much acapella as I can if songs don’t have lyrics,” he said. “It not only adds a bit of character to your mix, but it definitely gets the crowd a lot more engaged.”
It was this style of music that landed him his biggest gig at Beyond The Valley last year, performing alongside a line-up that included FISHER, PNAU and Duke Dumont. “It was unreal. The best experience ever,” he told us.
But Pulsford didn’t land the spot in the conventional way.
“I had a friend who was pushing the ticket sales for the event and I had a whole lot of friends who wanted to come so I sold a few tickets for them as well. But then I got talking to a couple of the organisers there and eventually they offered me a pretty early slot; I believe it was the first slot on the very first day,” he recalls.
“When I was there, I bumped into so many people and told them that I was so proud to be playing at this amazing event and it was a pretty surreal thing. It was the first set of the day on this really big stage and what turned out to be close to 200 to 300 of my friends – even those that I hadn’t even seen in such a long time – all rocked up just to show their support.
“It was an amazing thing and definitely one of the highlights of my little hobby that’s now become one of my passions.”
Pulsford is now doing his best to bring some of Melbourne’s top talent down to the Peninsula, as well as showcasing up-and-coming talent, with an event created by him and his mates called “Thunderground”.
Originally starting out as Thunderdome Revival, the concept has quickly taken off in his hometown with 200 to 250 people consistently packing the venue. The most recent day-event sold out within sixteen hours of tickets being released.
Pulsford has taken a backstep from his DJing to help run and promote Thunderground but says it really fills the gap in the music market. “There was a really strong lack of house/techno music on the Mornington Peninsula,” he said.
“There are a lot of commercial night clubs in Mornington, and other events that were really commercialised and aimed at younger people. We wanted to make a place where we can all listen to the music that we want to listen to, where we can listen to the artists that we’d otherwise have to go all the way up to the city to listen to and we said ‘Let’s start hosting events where we can bring them down here’. We started with that and it just became this big thing where there was obviously a lot of like-minded people who wanted to listen to the good music on the Peninsula and we’re now in a position to bring down good artists all the time.”
Pulsford said while they wanted to get some top artists down to the Peninsula, there is still a very firm focus on supporting and showcasing new talent.
“One of the biggest aims of our group is to promote Peninsula talent so we try and put people who can’t easily get an appearance into the spotlight by giving them the chance to play to a lot of people,” he said.
“Giving them an opportunity to play for fun, not just because they sell tickets, is a really wholesome set up that we’ve got going at the moment. We’ve got a lot of grateful people and we’re creating a lot of opportunities that are leading to better things.”
Pulsford will continue to dedicate a lot of his time to running ‘Thunderground’ but will still be gearing up for another massive summer festival season. He said: “I can’t confirm, but I’m definitely looking at a couple of big events which I’m incredibly excited about.”
So keep a look out for the peninsula’s Samuel Pulsford in the coming months!