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Nem's Sunday rant
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Nemesis44
Some simple truths about being a DJ

Find out what it means to you, the reality is that probably none of us will ever make it as DJ superstars. That does not mean that you canít enjoy what you do and it does not mean that you canít be a successful DJ. Success can be defined in many different ways.

Get rid of the notion that you are going to be able to educate people with your sets because in truth thatís just utter from start to finish, you will alienate yourself from your potential listeners. If you have niche music you have to play in a niche club where likeminded people come to hear your preferred sounds, this is not a loss by any means but it does mean that it will be harder for you to get a platform where you can share you music with others. You may also have to travel or move to a different location especially if you are from a smaller town.

Remember, being a DJ is about the here and now, peoples memory fades fast, so when you finally do get your platform to perform, give the people something positive to remember you for. This will more often than not mean some form of compromise, if you find a vibe that makes people happy then pursue it, even if it isnít necessarily your thing. Nearly all the DJs I know are not playing the music that they started out playing many years ago, and they have had to adapt their game, the question Ďwhy are you a DJí comes back into play, and if the answer is that you are a performer who enjoys entertaining people then compromise will come back into play.

When in a club environment, beware the bedroom DJs. They will most likely be your most critical audience and in a lot of cases there will be no pleasing them. Take their comments with less weight than your average clubber as they will always be of the opinion that they could do it better based on the fact that they have a cheap set of decks at home and can produce a half good set in that environment. The fact remains that the only thing that playing in a club shares with bedroom spinning is the gear, the principle of matching music and the fader movements. After that it all changes and the challenges and skills needed on top of that are far greater in the club and as such can only be learned in that environment.

Hand in hand with the previous statement, when you do get your chance to play to a wider audience, make the most of it. Donít fret too much about your technique, your average clubber is more forgiving than any forum based bedroom DJ and most people will be there to hear good music, not how well you can mix. Their standards are much lower and they donít always have an ear for knowing when something is slightly out.

Tune selection is everything; know how to build a set from start to finish. So many times I hear people on forums and through demos that charge into a set and then have it go out on a whimper. By all means start with a bang, but go out with an even bigger bang!

Donít play the same tempo all the way throughÖ I hear this a lot too, especially from digital DJs. As the excitement builds, donít be afraid to increase the tempo discretely. See the dance floor as one mass gangbang and you are trying to build people up to a climax. If you are not playing the main slot, this still applies, but you still have to respect the timeslot and the DJs that are going to follow.

Learn the art of being a good warm up DJ. This is harder than it looks and is sadly an art form that is being lost due to everyone thinking that they are the main event. Your job is to get people excited, build tension and even if they donít dance, prepare them for the notion that they are about to when the headliner comes on. As a warm up DJ, play more bass and funk orientated tracks, avoid breakdowns. You got to have bounce in your music, but at the same time be a little generic about it. Donít drop any dance floor monsters and donít drop tracks made by the headliner.

Yes, I know you probably know most if not all of this, but I just got sick of not seeing any threads in this forum so thought I would have a rant. :)

Cheers
Nem
dj_alfi
You sure like to write, don't you, Mister?
mnw479
that was very informative, thanks!
Nemesis44
quote:
Originally posted by dj_alfi
You sure like to write, don't you, Mister?


Hey Alfi,

Just miss the time when this forum used to be well and truly alive. But yes, you are right, I guess I do go on a bit... ;)

Cheers
Nem
dj_alfi
Haha, maybe I'll read it later :p
chewy dragee
Or you can be like me and just not give a ...

I've been invited to a few partys and events, And I will generally fade out the offending 120bpm bull, give it about a minute to sink in that the music isn't playing anymore, and then hit them with a nice 135+ BPM trance/psytrance intro.

The shock on their faces is super delightfull..

I don't make money from DJing and it's my hobby for my amusement only, I don't care if the crowd likes it or not... I tell people to off if they give requests.. Why?

You don't walk up to Tom Jones and tell him to sing a ing ABBA song.

I also like to chuck in a nice messed up hard to mix song at the end of a set so that the following guy trainwrecks the crap out of it.

^^If I say this though, I don't play crap that no one will like.. I tend to please more than half the crowd, and I get rebooked so I'm not doing too badly... Also I always turn down the money at the end of the night and play for free.

It's cool when younger people come up to me and say that they've never heard such awesome music.
jdat
Take what you do seriously, but yourself not too much.

It's all about having a good time and sharing. Bring it up and down. It's all gooood.


As time progresses I really feel ill at ease playing the peak slot. In my own musical history, I've always admired and had so much respect for opening djs and that is where I try and go when I open. Build the house up so the peak hour dj can make it shake and tremble :D.

Such a misunderstanding with opening djs, and playing with "headliners". People see it as a form of holding back when you down play yourself but it's a position of humbleness and knowing how to make the vibe right. Don't fall into pretentious ego crap thinking you can play "better" than the person after you. All djs are there to contribute something if only in the subconscious of the people in attendance.
PivotTechno
quote:
Originally posted by Nemesis44

Get rid of the notion that you are going to be able to educate people with your sets because in truth thatís just utter from start to finish, you will alienate yourself from your potential listeners.

This will more often than not mean some form of compromise, if you find a vibe that makes people happy then pursue it, even if it isnít necessarily your thing. Nearly all the DJs I know are not playing the music that they started out playing many years ago, and they have had to adapt their game, the question Ďwhy are you a DJí comes back into play, and if the answer is that you are a performer who enjoys entertaining people then compromise will come back into play.

Donít fret too much about your technique, your average clubber is more forgiving than any forum based bedroom DJ and most people will be there to hear good music, not how well you can mix. Their standards are much lower and they donít always have an ear for knowing when something is slightly out.

Tune selection is everything; know how to build a set from start to finish. So many times I hear people on forums and through demos that charge into a set and then have it go out on a whimper. By all means start with a bang, but go out with an even bigger bang!

As the excitement builds, donít be afraid to increase the tempo discretely.


All of this may have worked for you with what you do and the style of music you play, but to me, the majority of it is complete bullhockey. I don't run with the big guns like I used to, but all of the major bookings I attained back in my heyday were because of my uncompromising stance toward my music, my capacity to take people through a musical journey that didn't just include whatever happened to be in vogue that week, my unique style of mixing (that 'technique' you tell people to not worry about too much), and my not being afraid to suddenly drop or raise the tempo to my own liking - often not-so-discreetly - part of the way through a set.

As much as being about entertainment and having a good time, dance music's roots were quite political and thus educational in nature, but that's been largely thrown aside in favour of mass commodification. Doesn't mean that you shouldn't explore that history and maybe become a part of it in the process. The clubs are filled with throwaway DJs who do nothing but compromise and play it safe, which is why clubbing these days is so completely and utterly boring. Don't be afraid to set yourself apart from the pack.

Out of thousands of glorified Beatport Top Ten jukeboxes manning the decks, there are only a handful of truly skilled, total-package jocks out there who are willing to go out on a limb with their music and the way they play it - these are the people who influenced me close to 30 years ago, when I first got into the game, and they're the same ones I admire today.

You take whichever route is truest to your own heart, period.
Nemesis44
quote:
Originally posted by PivotTechno
All of this may have worked for you with what you do and the style of music you play, but to me, the majority of it is complete bullhockey. I don't run with the big guns like I used to, but all of the major bookings I attained back in my heyday were because of my uncompromising stance toward my music, my capacity to take people through a musical journey that didn't just include whatever happened to be in vogue that week, my unique style of mixing (that 'technique' you tell people to not worry about too much), and my not being afraid to suddenly drop or raise the tempo to my own liking - often not-so-discreetly - part of the way through a set.



Ah, but the main thing is that we are now talkin about something other than the same ol' ing headphone reviews or which monitors yada yada yada...

But you also have to understand my target audience with this post, the fact that I would say don't worry too much about the technique, surely you must see that it's aimed at the 'first time in the club' DJ not someone who plays regularly.
I still stand by the fact that you can get away with a less polished technique as long as your track selection is spot on. I am however, not suggesting that you shouldn't give a about technique.

As for dance music itself being political, well it depends on how wide your extension of the term dance music actually is. But I would personally draw the distinction between politics and a means to escape the grim reality of life. What we percieve as dance music today gained momentum in the mid to late 80s, but as such it never had it's own polical message, but sure was a sign of the times. I was there at the time, it was a mass celebration of unity... us against them... the only problem is that we were so off our at the time we couldn't figure out who 'they' actually were.

Back then you really could experiment as a DJ, there were no real established guidelines on how it should be done and people where a lot more appreciative of the experience back then.

Now when I say change the tempo discretely I am not saying 'don't play a record that has a different tempo in the middle of the set' I was refering to the pitch movements. And to be fair there are even ways in which you can get away with doing that and have it sounding good.

Besides... you were fortunate enough to play in the good times... things are very different now and to be frank, I have often wondered if this is still me, or should I just accept that after 26 years the scene has changed so much. I still get to play with some cool names from time to time, but to be honest it's as you say, it's still the old guys who are ahead of the game.

I realise we may not see eye to eye, but at least it's more interesting than another monitor review no? ;)

Cheers
Nem
PivotTechno
Most certainly! I can only speak from one vantage - mine - and I totally anticipate that regardless of what is expressed in this thread, anyone reading it will fully follow their own bliss in the matter.

So, anyone try the 3031As? ;)

Looney4Clooney
can't stand djs that play sets that seem like the same track is playing over and over and over. No amount of drugs will make that fun. It is zombie house/techno. It should be played in show stores. That is it.

If I can't remember 1 tune, a new tune, you suck. I've suffered so many boring djs. Especially at afterhours. God damn people like to play the worst static boring music for hours on end. I honestly don't get it.

Last time a dj did that i bought a water bottle and threw it at the dj. That was hilarious.
meriter
quote:
Originally posted by Nemesis44

See the dance floor as one mass gangbang and you are trying to build people up to a climax.


Seriously though I've always kind of approached DJ'ing the same way you'd approach writing music in a band and it's sad how ineffective that actually is. It's not an artform if you compromise everything to please your audience and 'give them what they want'. They don't even know what they want. If they did they'd be up there doing it. That's why you're supposedly the artist and they are the audience. It's supposed to be challenging. How can you even be passionate about what you do if your goal as a performer is to seek validation? The sad truth is that when most people go out to a club they don't want to be educated they just want to get ed up, impregnate some skanks, maybe contract an STD or two and call it a day. Your job as a DJ is to facilitate and nurture that experience. So let's not get all circlejerky and talk about technique and feeling the energy and opening slots blah blah it's not this meaningful thing you pretend it to be. You don't even play original material.
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