Last night somebody asked me; “I want to be a DJ like you, can you tell me what I need to do?” It’s a flattering question but it’s a flawed question. I’m honoured that someone wants to be a DJ like me but the question should have been “I want to be a DJ, can you give me any help?”
The world already has a me, it doesn’t need another like me. The world doesn’t need any clones or imitations, it needs fresh new ideas, new talents and new personalities. Yes, let others inspire you but don’t let your goal be to become them.
My advice to anyone wanting to become a DJ is quite simple
Learn To Present
- Remember an iPod can play tracks back to back! Anyone could load CDs into alternate decks and fire them off as the previous one comes to an end but that’s not very entertaining.
- Learn to Present, learn when to speak and when to not speak. Don’t over burden your listener with your voice. Ultimately they want to hear the music, they’ll enjoy what you say if you’re good but unless you’re aiming for talk radio then your presentation should work well with and complement your music but not to the degree of totally over running it.
- Think about your personality while you present. It’s your personality that will show through when you present. Don’t mimic someone you heard on the radio, or someone you heard MC in a club as that will lead you down the wrong road. YOUR presentation is YOUR personality shining through, you can only present with your own personality so aiming for a style mimicking someone else’s won’t work as they present with their own personality which you won’t share!
Learn Your Craft
- Get yourself equipment. It doesn’t need to be expensive or brand new but to be good at DJing you need to practice to master the art. I’ve been DJing a long time and I still practice and challenge myself to learn new things and get better at my art.
- Practice simple mixing at first, just mix one track into another. Learn about acceptable pitch tolerances! You can mix almost any track into any track in terms of upping or lowering the speed but if you go too far it just doesn’t work! Be careful of clashing basslines too when learning to mix.
- Record your mixing. It might sound great to you at the time but when you’ve finished your practice set go away and do something else. Then, when you’ve come down from the hype of having done your mix put headphones on and listen to your mix. See if you’re just as happy with it after a passing of time. Enjoy what you did well, remember what you did poorly as it’s the poor bits that will help you become better. The poor bits are the bits you want to eradicate so remember them and when you next come to mix remember where you let yourself down before.
- When you’ve mastered the above it’s time to move on to more complex things, like looping and sampling. This gives you far more to do than worry about two decks and a crossfader but it will greatly improve the quality of your output.
- Most importantly, develop your own style!
- Never think you’ve made it! There’s always room for improvement whether technical or style. Music is always evolving, your mixing and/or presentation should always be evolving too
- Be prepared for knock backs. It’s not an easy thing to get into but work hard and be persistent.
- Remember, anybody with an iPod, CD player or laptop can play music back to back, what makes you special as a DJ is what you do in between the music. Whether it’s a presentation link or a mix that’s what makes you good!
- Strive to be you, don’t aim to be anybody else. Let your personality shine through in every spoken link and/or every mix you do