“As a DJ if you mind being a source of constant giggles behind your back, you can easily turn the embarrassment into awe by downloading this week’s Top 10 song collection…”
Be a Cool House DJ with… [download site-name withheld] DJ Song Lists” reads the email subject line in my email inbox. Inquisitively, I click open. I kid you not but this is how the first few lines of the email read. “As a DJ if you mind being a source of constant giggles behind your back, you can easily turn the embarrassment into awe by downloading this week’s Top 10 song collection from [download site-name withheld].”
What is this I questioned myself… is this where we’re at now? As a DJ no more searching for new dance trends or those sonically gilded tracks that you’ll imaginatively and creatively compile to come up with an exclusive set for the night? Has it all been relegated to a common denominator that is a ‘DJ Top 10’ from some download site, so that when you download you are almost guaranteed a rocking set?
Part of the fascination with underground electronic music is finding really good music that isn’t charting. It’s the search, the find, and the ability to put it all together into a great mix that makes it. I don’t know about you but I have a problem with billboard chart/dance tracks or ‘DJ Top 10’ as a method of influencing or even dictating which direction Dance/House music needs to take. Let me state categorically; I love the direction underground House music has taken lately.
The ‘back to roots’, thick, chunky vibe that permeates the airwaves these days makes me really happy – but I really dislike the way that charts/DJ top 10’s on some download sites are so remote from reality.
Yes, perhaps as a country that’s viewed to be on the ‘front row seat’ and kicking its sneakers to the rhythms of Dance/House music for which we should be thankful (depending on your point of view) to the internet as a medium; however I refuse to give into this pervasive ’email & download invitation link peer pressure’. Kind of like ‘Oh, be a sport and click on the link to download another hot ‘DJ Top 10’ that will make your set rock!
I share with Osunlade’s insights when he says DJ’s and producers alike should, especially here in South Africa, “invest a lot of effort in studying music, the sensibilities of the sound, listening to an array of sounds and knowing what the music is about.”
Or else we are running a risk of becoming a very much monotone/ homogenized DJ culture, that lacks depth and variation – where DJ’s rock up to a club with similar sounding sets (if it’s not happening already).
I’m afraid we’ll become another ‘familiar’ scene on public transport where a taxi or bus is packed to overflow when suddenly that popular ring tone squeals out in a series of ugly caterwauling bleeps and almost everybody grapples their mobiles similar to the Wild West gunslingers.
I also get frustrated by young producers approaching me wielding their Blackberry’s, boasting to me about their tracks that have made it to that popular download site’s top 10. And you know what? When I do listen to them I realize that I don’t know any single person that has bought or even heard it play in a club or radio.
Perhaps they may be useful to other DJ’s (and if you have a counter argument to this perspective – by all means hit me) but I get sneered at when I tell them that these charts are completely useless for anything other than pure hype and there is no better way to lose my attention.
In closing I’m starting to believe that those who buy from charts are not real music fans; they are just people who only DJ because they want to play something that everybody has heard without structuring a set according to the energy the crowd emits. Sadly then, the ones that contain that sheer raw creativity from producers who take time and always seek to perfect the beat – may not see the light of day as we are submerged in clubs filled with generic chart hits.
Words: Nduduzo Smalz Ngobese