Monday, October 25, 2004

Everybody Wants To Be A DJ

My Cousin's Roommate Is Spinning Right Now
Originally uploaded by chinese_fashion.
At least twice a week I get an email that says "come out to XXX cafe on Friday night, my friend XXX is spinning, he's really great!" Then I get there, and there's usually like 20 people there, talking, drinking and just sitting around. The reason there's only twenty people there is because everyone else's friend is a DJ too. While the tunes are invariably better than Clear Channel Radio, it's usually not worth biking in the rain to hear your friend's friend DJ. Having just moved to DC and not being much of a dancer, I'm just now learning this the hard way. My new personal policy is never to see a DJ that can't get a bigger audience than a public school gym teacher.

Maybe DJ culture is a byproduct of chaos theory as applied to popular music: as time progresses, entropy exponentially accelerates the proliferation of bands, songs, and singles. It's all so overwhelming that we need someone to be a responsible musical filter for us so we can get up from the stereo and just have a good time. But the entropy applies to DJs too. Now that the laws of chaos have accelerated wack DJ reproduction, I need a filter to filter the filters.

Please don't get me wrong, I like a good DJ as much as the next guy. Good DJs and good bands are precious and rare and they're equally valid forms of expression. But I think that DJs are hitting the critical mass stage that bands hit in the late 90s. By 2001, you just couldn't be bothered to go see your roommate's band,and I think it's coming around again.

Being a good DJ means having the right taste for the room and having the perfect combination of records on hand to move the crowd, make 'em laugh and occasionally ache with nostalgia. The records one owns are crucial to DJ success. So many that "spin" now rocked to Fugazi's "Merchandise"in the 90s...we've come a long way from singing along to "you are not what you own."

While taste and record collections matter now, DJs of the future will eschew turntables altogether. They'll just have 2 AM/FM receivers, headphones and a mixing deck. All night long, they'll scan the bands to boom out the perfect clips from broadcast radio, with no interruptions and no commercials. Maybe the songs will get cut a bit short when BTO is playing on one radio and the DJ finds a new Missy Elliott track on the top 40 station, but it'll be more thinking on the feet, more immediate judgment calls. Innovators can scratch with static and emergency broadcast practice tones.

Twenty years from now my kids will get emails delivered directly into their spinal fluid that say "come out to club XXX, my friend XXX is supposed to be there. He programmed the jukebox at So-and-So last year, and he's got the best taste in music. Tonight he'll tell you what to like if you buy him drinks."


At 6:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its so true that everyone's friend is a DJ. Having been a part of the DC Goth/Industrial scene for way too long I've seen them come and go - and the question these days is almost...."Wait, so you've never been a DJ at any of these nights" You see, at these clubs every so often they'll even have amateur DJ nights once in a blue moon, so that everyone can honestly wear the "I fucked a DJ" and "I'm a DC, wanna fuck?" shirts.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI! I'm a dj! And I do this because I love music...I'm a producer, I'm signed to a few labels! And fuck you! That's not true! I'm a better dj when I play with your mamas pussy! FUcker!

At 11:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im also a DJ, and I been working for a while now. I firmly believe on this current Dj hype movement and I think its really damaging the concept of people upon what its really all about: good music. When people ought to become a Dj nowadays, they are looking forward to get recognition and fame, an perhaps other things that are not relevant to pleasing a crowd. Its sad to see people taking about genres and styles and new mixing gear, insted of working by themselves, selecting good records and improve their skills to see if at least they are worth to hear one night.


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