7 Things I have learned in 7 years of DJing
1) Playing a request no matter how bad can make someones night.
2) Never think your the most important person at the party.
3) DJing is still a job....sigh.
4) The most expensive weddings are not necessarily the best weddings I have ever been to.
5) No matter how hard you try your not going to make everyone happy...all the time.
6) Working hard pays off.
7) People will forget what you do, people will forget what you say however people will never forget how you made them feel.
Why Gear is Really Only one Part of the Equation, the Real Investment is in Yourself :-D
I have probably seen countless adds and people believing these adds that really some company somewhere has come out with the most ultimate piece of gear that will magically make you Tiesto, Hardwell, Deadmau5 or even David Guetta overnight for like $100... The reality is this is not the case…(I know sounds obvious). I knew when I first started that the auto mixer really changed the game in that it was now a lot easier to beatmatch in that computers were able to do a lot of the mindless counting and that for you (in my opinion this has partly also outdated the term DJ, but this is a story for another day). This may have made things easier but the reality is no matter how technology has changed the person makes the DJ. Although things are auto mixed, where(what part of the track you will mix in), what (is the next track? Will these tracks blend? Do you want to mix a harmonious track?) , when (you will mix the previous track out) and how (the execution being the essence of creativity of the DJ) are really the most difficult parts of being a DJ and will only come with practice. Add effects, remix decks, and DJ's producing live and you get the equation that really the purchase of any gear in reality is not going to overnight make you a better DJ no matter what the add tells you.
The only way I have found to make yourself a better DJ today is through awesome and expensive lighting which is really sound automated.
So when you go out and buy some new audio gear keep in mind that really your investing in gear that if you practice will in the end make you a better and more qualified DJ or producer which in turn makes you a better DJ. The real investment is in yourself (human capital) which can never really be replaced and is what people will want to see and hear.
Every Genre Brings Something to the Table!
When I first started listening to EDM I was unaware fully of the entire list of genre's that are out there and what distinguished them. Now I realize through repetitive listening and beat matching that every genre is distinct and really does bring something to the table. I think this may be part of the reason why new DJ's will try and do and claim they do everything. After some experience I would say it is important to know main stream music including edm, (for practical purposes) and pick one at most two genres that you would like to specialize in. It has probably taken me till about my third year in to really pick a genre/genre's and I have chosen Deep House and Trance. I feel these two genres suit my laid back personality and the desire for high melodies. Pick something you are passionate about and something you will find rewarding to play and mix too.
Why Studying the Past is Very Important for DJ's/Producers or Artists
I remember taking history and when I was very young asking my elementary school teacher why we studied history in that what's the point if it's already happened. The teacher responded that, "the past has the tendency to repeat itself." Often in the same scenario I get ragged on by people or friends asking why I collect records in the first place. A lot of the argument is about sound quality (which has it's pro's) a lot is about the mystique, some has to do with the fact that some songs are only found on vinyl. But, probably the most important reason why I collect LP's is because of the history. When you get a LP there is a lot more information on it than on an MP3. For instance there are years, record labels, producers and other people who helped out in the production of the music and beautiful cover art. This information believe it or not can be a lead to find other good tracks. But, lets get back to the idea that the past has the tendency to repeat itself. I consider myself to know a little about a lot of subjects and from my personal experience no subject tops music in the ability to repeat itself. The other thing is it appears completely socially acceptable. People just accept it, because people enjoy hearing different ways of presenting similar music. In fact a similar track may not have been the norm ten to twenty years ago but marketed today would be quite popular.
I would like to run through a recent example of how this played out. I recently acquired a LP titled (as per the above photo) "Songs In the Key of Life" by Stevie Wonder. Going through the tracks I can across a track titled, "Pastime Paradise". You may or may not have heard of the track it was produced in 1976.
Now if you are thinking what I'm thinking, and you grew up in the 1990′s. This track is very similar to Coolio's Gangster's Paradise.
The tracks are so similar even the chorus is the same (except Coolio mad libs'd the word pastime with gangster). But, Stevie Wonder's track Pastime Paradise didn't even make it into the top 40. Coolio's gangster's paradise went number 1 for three weeks and was on the chart for 36 weeks. The track sold over 5 million copies mostly in cassette and part of that in my opinion was because of Michelle Pfeiffer :-D awooga.
But, how could this happen. Well Coolio presented the track in another time period and he marketed it differently. At the time gangster rap was in, when Stevie Wonder produced his track it was nothing but disco fever. People were not interested in a slower tempo track. The top of the charts in 1976 include, "Saturday night" an uptempo track and many disco tracks such as "disco duck", "shake your booty" "love rollercoaster", "play that funky music" "Love Machine." It was a period dominated by uptempo tracks where as Rap which predominated the 90′s particularly of the west coast hip hop were of a slower tempo.
Now, I'm not condoning what Coolio did as wrong, after all if it wasn't for Coolio we wouldn't have had that track to blast through our 1000 watt subs, and the 90′s wouldn't have been the same.
But, as a Producer/DJ or Artist just looking at this one example, let alone the thousands of others and the new boom in remixes and mashups. Take the time, learn your past and make something out of it.
What is the big deal about Daft Punk? Some thoughts of mine on the album too
I just got my daft punk album yesterday and have been pretty happy with the whole experience. The album art is different than most Daft Punk albums where usually they just have Daft Punk written in the front in a variety of forms. They have a fusion of the French duo's notorious helmets. I like the change in that it is more pleasing to the eye. My favourite track so far has been fragments of time. But, for the most part the entire album is more of a melody based, with amazing vocals, and although is still very future sounding (as per daft punk) it has more of an older genre vibe. But to put in short it's great.
But, just kind of thinking to me although I haven't really been in the music business that long, but been a music lover my whole life, to worship Daft Punk like many fans do kinda seems pretty strange. Yes there music is awesome but so is like a million other names out there who don't get any kind of publicity really in comparison. What is it about Daft Punk that makes producers and DJ's get that tingly feeling inside. Well actually Daft Punk answers that question in a track on the album. Like you may expect Daft Punk is a pioneer in music and I think in his words on a track in the album Giorgio explains his story and passion quite well…
Great Bear Pub on Friday — How I would recommend approaching a DJ
This week, I have had the pleasure again of DJing at my new favourite local hot spot, the great bear pub. A lot of people get super friendly with the DJ up on stage and at times it can be the greatest and at other times it's the worst… Being friendly with a DJ can be really cool because believe it or not, although your job is to entertain and your up on stage, after a couple of hours it can get very isolate and having someone come up request a track is awesome because it creates more of a connection with the crowd especially with gigs that have no dance floor. The other side of the equation is that people often start talking to you and they don't realize that you are working and this is your job. When you approach a DJ, from my amount of experience, is keep the conversation brief but pleasant. DJ's will want maybe 1 or 2 lines of conversation per couple of minutes. Keep it brief and fun with simple answers. For instance Awww man I love this track! Aww man can you play Tiesto? Dude I wanna hear some rock el roll! Dude that guy's getting some! Etcetera.
Another common courtesy upon approaching a DJ is be careful with your drinks. I love a sloppy drunk, except when they are hitting my gear or putting drinks near my gear. I don't know why people do it but it's crazy annoying, it'd be like going over to someone's house and putting a drink on his/her brand new 70 inch LCD. You just don't do it. I remember specifically one gig, two large breasted women approached me with a request. I was just yelling walk around because every time they would try and yell a request they would lean in and of course there large boobs would hit my computer screen. Now I'm not saying I have anything against large boobs, it's just I need my computer screen to keep the party going and on a DJ's salary these days man you are needing that computer screen to last. Just be careful about your surroundings (cords, things fragile) when approaching a DJ and be especially careful with your drinks.
I think if you follow these simple instructions DJ's will welcome some interaction for sure and if they don't maybe there having a bad day (it happens sometimes) and just remind them to lighten up, this is supposed to be a party.