ALAMEDA -- Sasha Michkovsky was one of three grand prize winners -- and the top scorer -- in a competition for budding disc jockeys and music producers called the "Discovery Project: Electric Daisy Carnival (EDC) Las Vegas 2014."
The 20-year-old Alameda resident, along with the 400 other entrants, was required to submit a 30-minute DJ mix and an original self-produced song.
"The grand prize was a return trip to Las Vegas for myself and a guest, three nights at the Cosmopolitan Hotel and the chance to DJ for an hour on one of the stages at the EDC Las Vegas Festival in June," said Michkovsky, who took along his mom as his guest. "It felt like a dream, it was unreal. I got to meet my idol DJ Fedde Le Grand, who was performing at the festival."
He said judges first reviewed each entrant's original song, which was judged on originality and professionalism. In the second round of judging, qualifying entrants' DJ submissions were judged on sharpness and boldness.
"The judges called to tell me that I was a winner as I was going to one of my classes -- I couldn't believe it," said Michkovsky, whose stage name is Zima.
Michkovsky, who grew up in Ukraine and came to the United States with his family when he was 5, graduated from Alameda High School in 2012 and is currently a student at Ex'pression College in Emeryville, working toward a bachelor of applied science in sound arts. The digital arts school specializes in such subjects as graphic design and motion, as well as animation and visual effects.
"It was the only college I applied to -- I'm a lot about atmosphere and energy, I trust the staff and the equipment is top-of-the-line," said Michkovsky, who is currently taking classes in live sound and audio postproduction.
Michkovsky, who played trumpet in the Lincoln Middle School Marching Band and took guitar and piano lessons, started as a disc jockey and producing music as a sophomore in high school -- where he was also captain of the varsity soccer team in his senior year.
"By the end of my junior year, I knew I wanted to pursue music as a career," said Michkovsky, who has been contacted by several artist management companies and booking agencies since his win at the EDC competition. "I hope to DJ and produce music across the U.S. and eventually internationally. I want to make good music and use all this energy that I have for travel and playing shows around the world."
Michkovsky realizes that the music industry is a competitive business, but thinks that success comes down to hard work.
"Through hard work, you develop your own sound -- you have to believe in yourself and your unique sound," Michkovsky said. "You have to take risks because there is so much competition from the amount of traffic on the Internet. It comes down to networking, meeting the right people and building a support team."
Chris Colatos, associate program director for Interactive Audio at Ex'pression College, praised his student's grand prize win.
"We're all inspired by Sasha's achievement," Colatos said. "With his focus and energy, we know he will have continued success throughout his music production career."
Here's the link to Sasha Michkovsky's original song and the 30-minute DJ mix that he submitted to the Las Vegas competition.