If you want to ruin a nice afterparty or spoil a friendly drink in the pub, ask your mates what makes a great DJ. Responses will inevitably be hugely heated and a definitive answer will evade you all until well after you’ve fallen out.
Advances in technology changed the game. In the pre-internet age, we had no free down- loads, and time was needed to learn how to mix two records together – no sync, no laptops: the cost of being able to become a DJ. That cost – and amount of skills needed – are now so low that pretty much anyone can do it. Lots of DJs, but less passion. There are younger DJs that have taste and style, but it’s hard for them to be heard, because of the ‘noise’ made by the thousands that buy a laptop just to seem cool. A real busi- ness. Many are true social media heroes and spend more time on Facebook than digging for tunes. However there is also a growing educated crowd, thanks to that same inter- net. Nowadays there is too much choice. Are the decks set properly, rotary or not? Are the monitors placed right? Valve or digi system? Is it tuned to your sound? Too much attention on equipment instead of focusing on the crowd. In the same time, people have less knowledge of what makes a good DJ than 20 years ago, so maybe it’s easier to impress now than it was in the past.Today, the only people that really care about technique are other DJs. Most people don’t really pay at- tention. But, technique means nothing with- out great selection. It’s best when DJs play music they love. They should be booked on what they play, not on what the people want to hear. It’s like being given chicken because you love it and never tasting lobster to compare! For a great DJ, music is higher than ego! A lot of them have become lazy and more in- terested in showcasing their entourage and waving their hands in the air like psychologically damaged teenagers, especially in the EDM scene.
At the end of the day, it’s all about what comes out of the speakers.Put very simply, great tracks make a great DJ. The passion to find them, the knowledge to know how to program them and showcase them in the best way possible, and the technical skills to put them together imaginatively, for the greatest end result.■