“…these in my opinion are not DJ’s. In fact I don’t know what to call them – nerds perhaps?”
From the chattering hubbub of most industry elites and melodic connoisseurs alike comes a buzz that’s been filtering progressively through this ‘layer cake’ we call Dance music. The re-definition of the idea of being a DJ, what does being a DJ mean nowadays? Is it when you are able to successfully press some buttons on CDJ decks or know how to work the samples, effects in your DJ software or any new-fangled tricknological gadgetry? Is it when you’ve graduated from that ‘presumably’ esteemed DJ school and got that piece of paper that promises you life as a DJ amongst the stars?
If then this is the new understanding, I fail to see it as DJ’ing and these in my opinion are not DJ’s. In fact I don’t know what to call them – nerds perhaps? People who ‘get by’ as DJ’s like this I think are making the easiest money ever, because now all that’s left is for them to convince every PR person and club owner or promoter out there that they’re doing something only a few natural-born geniuses can do. The whole thing is becoming quite laughable. All you really need now is what I’d like to call the ‘LCD (Lowest Common Denominator) audience’; passing you off as a person with cool taste in music then all you do is just hide behind a multimedia orgy that exists in the virtual laptop world.
Joel Zimmerman, also known as Deadmau5 in an interview with the Irish Daily Star was quoted saying “The days of the DJ are gonna end, it puts me to fucking sleep, to be quite honest; I don’t really see the technical merit in playing two songs at the same speed together and it bores me to fucking tears. And, hopefully, with all due respect to the DJ type that will fucking go the way of the dinosaur, I’d like them to dis-a-fucking-pear!”
Before I offer my overview or interpretation of the whole idea, I simply reject his view. I say this because I’m the type of person who actually appreciates empirical thinking. To me Deadmau5’s view doesn’t hold any merit.
Perhaps it’s also my dislike of rodents that make me speak this way but enough about that here’s what I’m saying:
The conventionally accepted understanding of what DJ’ing ought to be is that it’s the music insights employed in sequencing a distinctive suite of music, which can be measured as a complete unit. Built out of a range of tracks; the DJ knowingly picks these to include in a greater whole. It is not an arbitrary selection. It’s a specific mixture to generate emotions and feelings and purely because of this DJ’s act as sieve through a gazillion tracks produced almost every hour and decide what is good, and what is not good to fit the characteristics of a specific space in time.
My view then on the other hand is that DJ’ing is a culture and I define it as an ‘unintended’ result of an interweaving of spheres and behaviours of a group of people who interrelate and interact with each other.
First off the technology; just because you know how to use Photoshop to manipulate images and graphics does not necessarily mean you can easily be a ‘fine art’ artist. You’ll never be able to inherently understand the fine nuances of the artistry. This intrinsically transmits to DJ’ing. If you lack the aptitude to rock up with a varied catalogue of music and use your music insights to improvise a set for the unknown needs and energy levels of a dance floor without the use of loops and computerized beat matching then to me you are not a DJ period. Your computer can aid you (as music storage) but not do your job.
Secondly, the way music is now acquired adds to the ruin of our scene. It creates a somewhat homogenized music scene. Anyone and everyone can sit in front of their computer and download tracks without any thought pattern, mix by ear or dig through a record shop for unique gems.
Lastly, and more importantly because of this so called progress in our scene, this means the average club going audience has gotten used to mediocre DJs & performances that don’t truly move them; not their body nor their soul. There are simply too many Fashionista, Wannabes, Nocturnal gadget wielding celebrities but not enough dancers.
And when I speak of dancers I’m not referring to people who’ll only dance to their favourite songs they hear umpteenth times on mainstream radio. I mean people who go out to be moved, who get lost in the sound and move to the beat with no other cares in the world. Perhaps as a benchmark then, only DJ’s that dance should be booked. It’s an old but simple truism; when it comes to dancing… it works better when it’s about dancing rather than chin stroking.
Written By : Nduduzo ‘Smalz’ Ngobese