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New Year Resolutions for DJs

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

by Tat

A few weeks of overindulgence and partying hard usually mean a few half-baked resolutions to lose weight, learn a new language and be nicer to people. For the hard working DJ the festive period can take its toll, the lack of sleep, eating bad food on the go and the New Year can take their toll. Whilst you need a decent level of willpower to detox last month’s excesses and eat healthily we think these suggestions for DJ new year resolutions will be somewhat easier to digest.

Explore a new genre

Very often we can get wrapped up in certain styles of music and it can be easy to miss what is happening elsewhere. Some DJs are style specific, they might only play techno, hip hop or progressive house. That’s not to say that all DJs are blinkered to one style of music, but once you get recognised and known for a certain style it can stick and before long you are pigeonholed with a career potentially going in the direction of a cul-de-sac. That of course is not always a bad idea, there are many DJs known for just one or two styles of music, whilst many make successful careers by having very eclectic tastes. Whatever you chose to play in a club is down to you, but having an open mind to other styles can only benefit you in the long run. Naturally there are certain routes many music lovers take, if you like hip hop there’s a very good chance you will like soul, funk, reggae and jazz. If you are into techno you’ll probably like tech-house, electronica, ambient and deep house. The thing to remember is that all music has its roots somewhere else and there is a good chance you’ll find plenty of hot tracks hidden in their roots. Hip hop DJs have a wealth of music history they can go back to, whilst techno and house DJs are likely to discover a treasure trove of disco from Italo to Afro. Electronic music spans back many decades and once you start searching you will find many European and American tracks that will make you question their age as they still sound incredibly hot today.

Record Store (C) d double u CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1PT6utZ

Buy the music - support the artists

Ever since Napster, file and torrent sharing has been an easy way to access all the music you could ever want. Whilst there is evidence that some illegal file downloads lead to legal purchases, there are plenty of music lovers who have never paid a penny for a track, and this includes DJs. Naturally not everyone can afford the latest releases on vinyl and CD, especially albums, but that is no excuse to steal. Buying the music supports the artists and whilst we could digress about the record industry and greed, it still supports many artists and puts food on their tables. Independent labels, of which dance music has a thriving community of needs revenue as much as anyone to survive. So if everyone illegally downloaded the latest release from Pan for example it would not be long before that label and others disappeared. Digital releases are a fraction of their vinyl and CD counterparts, plus you get to cherry pick which tracks you really want. Whilst downloading every track you see might feel good, in the end you’ll feel bloated and have a huge collection filled with substandard music. So if you have made a habit of just grabbing tracks from blogs and torrent sites, think about perhaps putting your hand in your pocket and paying for some music.

Mixer (C) DJ RentalUK CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1PT6cD8

Practice, practice practice

Back in the day when turntables were belt driven and the crossfader hadn’t been invented, DJs had to practice to push the boundaries with their kit. The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel, which was recorded in 1981, is a testament that practice makes perfect. Even though we have moved through precision turntables and mixers to digital DJing and a host of controllers, it still does not mean you can rest on your laurels. DJs have a huge arsenal of tricks and tips they can use, although that said the music selection still remains paramount. For example a simple method any DJ can apply when mixing two tracks is to reduce the bass on the outgoing track so that new track maintains the momentum whilst the existing melody continues to overlap. As a DJ your music taste may dictate your style, hip hop DJs scratch, deep house and nu disco DJs use the various kills switches and trims. Nevertheless there are many more tools you can employ that Grandmaster Flash and co would have killed for 35 years ago, so use them. The best thing any DJ can do to improve is to become totally comfortable with their equipment and know it inside out. It might mean fouling up practice mixes and taking a few steps back, but trial and error will be worth it. DJ equipment is as simple or complex as you want it to be, so if you do not fancy trying out every switch and control on your equipment don’t feel free the pressure to do so. Even by just spending more time with your music and equipment will bring familiarity and help identity what tracks work well together and which ones don’t. As the old saying goes, “fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

Festival (C) Mixtribe CC BY 2.0 http://bit.ly/1PT5hTo

Go to a music festival

It was 1994 when dance music finally broke down the fences and made itself known at the Glastonbury Festival, thankfully I was there to witness it. The following years saw dance and electronic music slowly chip away at the festival scene with specialist dance and electronic music festivals such as Creamfields, Big Chill and Global Gathering leading the way. Festivals have moved on a lot in the last two decades and now host some of the cream of the dance music scene with their very own stages. From the big hitters of Glastonbury to Bestival to the smaller dance-centric parties of Lost Village and Wildlife there are plenty to chose from. There may also be opportunities to DJ at a festival if you act now, many festivals are shaping their line ups as I write, so if you see one you like send them an email, you can only try. That said competition is fierce and most acts for festivals are usually booked, but some of the smaller, local festivals are always on the lookout for filler and small tent DJs. Certainly there is a lot to be said about DJing outdoors or in a tent, and given how short the British Summer Time lasts, it can be very special. Whilst going to a festival might not be for all music fans, as not everyone like tents and portaloos, it can be a brilliant way to spend a few days outside. Dance music lovers may always have the nightclub or music room as their home, but festivals offer an incredible opportunity to hear diverse and groundbreaking music, often in a beautiful setting. So if you haven’t been to a festival, maybe this is the year to make it a resolution to do so.

Another great resolution is to try Trackhunter to find your new music

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