Firstly, thanks to onlytechno.net for the article which commenced the ideas flowing in my mind. The “3 Things DJs Shouldn’t Do On Stage” article struck a few chords which if anything – from the Crusty DJ corner (as I'm sure I'd be categorised), at least – had to elaborate on the valid points raised.
For any old school DJs – like myself – the three points included (and surely there could be more) are certainly not invalid, yet a tad vague; if not unspecified. Let’s discuss.
1. Never Get Too Drunk Or High
There are so many heroes in DJ culture who remain pretty sober “on stage”. If we only refer to Carl Cox’s comments in the recent mini-biopic “What We Started” when he mentions his four beers in a ten-hour set – as well as him being the biggest radiator of energy perhaps the DJ industry has seen while performing. Yet Carl is now 54 years of age and when he – like many of his modern, industry-establishing peers started what they started – it was widely a party scene.
If you asked half – if not most – of Cox’s generational cohorts, now seen as legendary – having more than just a few shandies while headlining was more than the norm. But, as technology’s role in electronic music has rocketed ahead of social control, the community has also multiplied while said generation’s bodies have gotten older. As has expectation. Having said that, I did see one of the founders of modern day dance music pretty close to “off his cake” while playing on the rooftop at Melbourne’s Brown Alley, earlier this year. He did not disappoint either. Perhaps it’s the experience factor.
Point being – some can still rock it if they know their tunes and controlling the crowd is second nature. Just don’t do it at a new place with an unknown crowd and no sound crew. But don’t rule out that old habits don’t die hard!
2. Talking On The Microphone
“A noticeable trend among EDM sets….”
And there we have it. EDM.
Drum and Bass, along with Jungle and the UK Garage branches of the dance music tree all began with MCs. Understandably so, because the roots of these genres came from urban London, where Reggae, toasting and parts of Hip-Hop culture were linked.
Raves of the late eighties and early nineties, back in the day even used the MC. However, evolution has dictated that nightclubs haven’t required them as such where House Music is concerned. The DJ has let the music do all the talking. With that in mind, perhaps we should let evolution’s path prevail and let glory be fed through the all of the music played.
3. Playing Bangers Only
This was a lesson many DJs may have learned the hard way. Sasha, in his early days at the Hacienda was told off by his mentor DJ; Jon Da Silva – for doing exactly this. Unless you learn this lesson (years ago this would not have been documented in media) first-hand, you can retain what many try shedding from their backs – the “lack of depth” tag.
The joy of clubbing at top notch, or simply unique clubs is – and always has been – hearing new music for the first time and feeling privileged for it. The thrill of not being part of the humdrum high street mass which settles for exactly they’ve heard a thousand times on Cheese FM already during the previous few days – is a rare feeling.
Granted, DJs will agree that at some parties; old established favourites can be what may be needed. But nowadays, more than before with the choice of tracks available – the fine line between being a carbon copy of many other DJs or even events - can be averted by doing your homework. Acquiring different sounds or at least playing them a different way makes a huge variance in the listener’s experience.
There may be other elements to be included on the “avoidance” short list and I’m sure many DJ’s would concur. Yet two words which can define what is done and how - are the words “on stage.” Each stage is different, horses for courses. Particularly if you’re entrenched in the modern demands of broken travel, forcing to be happy after a possible rough journey – or basically playing a booking of which you know nothing, or very little. That goes from the young DJ driving him or herself to one of their first gigs – to the elite intercontinental DJs travelling across the world to a fresh, unproven festival. You could, of course – be in heaven moving from one place to the other and meeting new faces every day.
If you played one or two gigs a weekend, which paid the bills; allowed you to party with the crowd, played whatever you liked and then slept comfortably (when required), life would be easy. Wouldn’t it?