Monday, February 15, 2010

DJ'n 101--the do's and dont's

~just read this and cant agree more with this on point.

via Mad Decent blog

I’m very glad you’ve started this column as I’ve found myself lost in a number
of ways. Fundamentally I feel myself torn between the needs of the
proletariat (aka my friends) and my personal desires to hear deep as fuck
disco/rap/house etc cuts mixed to perfection (which my friends don’t). How
do you resolve this contradiction!?!?!! I cant get new friends nobody likes
me except these so I would prefer a way to manipulate them.
Frustrated in Fort Greene.

Dear Frustrated in FG,
I’ve been there buddy, and let me tell you, there is no solution. The tricky thing about cool music: nobody cares. 7 pm on a Saturday Night, over stuffing my record boxes with all the songs I think are amazing. With every ill 12″ I pack, a vision of their acceptance on the dace floor flashes through my head. Slipping a Pete Shelly “Homosapien” 12″ between Madonna and Cerrone records, I picture my friends bursting into jaunty dances reminiscent of the first half of the 80’s. I do this all evening, picking records and imagining their profound impact. By the time 11 rolls around I’ve got two over stuffed flight cases and a little bag bursting at the seems; every record I’ve brought is essential to the amazing night that lays ahead. Now it’s my turn to DJ, and I play my set, and it’s great except for one little thing. The records I was really excited about playing, little treasures I was sure would ignite, they were not the high points of my set, they were the low. Sure that one dude from the Hollerboard went crazy for some off beat disco treasure, but for the most part tried and true favorites were the driving force of the night. It’s Saturday night, and my friends don’t care about Ashford & Simpson, or Morrissey solo songs. Forgetting about the coming Monday or the passing Friday, finding someone to make out in the bathroom with, maybe a cheap bag of blow, this is Saturday night, not me or my impeccable taste. Diplo didn’t get famous playing electro rap from Zimbabwe or crunk from Fiji. He and one of his friends threw a party where they played popular songs everybody liked; not totally top 40 but everything crowd pleasing. Once success materialized, so did a platform to dictate rather than placate.

You want your crowd to feel your selections? Give then what they want first. Once you’ve earned their trust, and they know your dependable and will play ‘their song’ you can start tricking them. Pick a few songs to really get behind and start pushing them. Try the most accessible of your favorites to start out with. Like if your trying to go disco play Chic records at first. Get them used to a few easy to love classics. Once those records are accepted, you can go the next step deeper, and so on. Slip them in the right place and do not linger long in the audio out-lands. Nobody including me is checking for three Nu-Disco songs in a row. If your gonna take chances find dependable records to take them between. Work out the mix at home so you know the bar counts and when to bring shit in and out. Do Your Homework! Here is a good example. I have an edit of “This is Radio Clash” that goes to the dub at the end. I’ll mix something quirky into that, then the next song after my quirky song will be “Abracadabra” by Steve Miller Band. I keep the 80’s rockish through line using two classic dance songs that are easy to mix. And hopefully I’ve done my job and kept the energy up. Timing is everything and that ONLY comes with experience, so keep playing and playing and playing. The more hours you log in front of people the better you’ll get, as long as you push yourself.

People are predictable and crave familiarity. You’ve got to trick them, win hearts and minds to win the war. If your not rich, or famous, or producing chart topping records, or really good looking, your gonna have to make em happy and sneak in the jams when you can. I think you’ll find that making people happy is quite rewarding in itself, and when you get a moment where it all comes together and everyone is wasted and dancing to Sylvester, well that’s the icing on the cake. Enjoy it, it’s fleeting…

There is another school of DJing, that hard line refusal to play anything but what you want, what you think is cool or right. Thing is, if what you think is cool and right does not include a decent amount of crowd pleasing music, your probably just an asshole. Or maybe your not an asshole, your just clueless. That guy trying to force R&B Classics down the throats of kids who want to hear Misfits and Young Jeezy.
Either way, pretentious fuck or just a moron, your fucking up my Saturday night.


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