There are a hell of a lot of shit DJs out there. And many with poor boothside etiquette. Following extensive research, I have identified several archetypes of the very shittest and least deserving of a privileged position in a booth. These are they.
1. DJs who can’t beatmatch. Especially ‘legacy’ DJs who somehow still clang mixes on a frequent basis despite decades in the game. It’s really not that fucking hard. And yes, it does matter. Watch even a barely-educated punter on the dancefloor scratch their head in confusion as the beats begin to gallop like Bishop’s Cock in the 4.20 at Aintree. They know that something ain’t right. You feel it in your bones. It’s like a natural instinct. We’ve all had tricky gigs where we’ve got no monitor, or the needle’s fucked – but for a ‘name’ DJ to fuck up a mix in an established club with a good setup and a prime sound system… that’s just fucking lame. And I don’t buy the “DJing is not about beatmatching” line that some people bandy around when talking about certain jocks who are good selectors but apparently haven’t figured out how to count to four yet. Of course, there’s no denying that the most important thing in DJing is choosing the music and choosing when to play it – but it’s all part of the package. And I just can’t get my head around why some of these apparently technically gifted musicians can’t master the most basic element therein. DITCH YOUR VINYL AND PRESS THE SYNC BUTTON 😉 Richie Hawtin did OK out of it.
2. DJs who go over their allocated time / cut your last record off short even though you’ve got 3 minutes left. Two sides of the same coin here, both marked ‘twat’. No it’s not alright to play one or two more tracks, I’ve only got an hour-long set and I’m not having it eaten into with more of your drivel thanks mate. And don’t cut off my very carefully chosen last track unless it begins eating into your time. Every second counts when you’re playing a short set (short sets being another personal bugbear). Don’t snaffle my time, bitch!
3. DJs who don’t know how to use the equipment. If you’ve been playing out a for a few years, you should know your way around most mixers and most technical problems. You should also be able to hear when you are riding the levels so high that you’re distorting the music. If you’re a relative newcomer, OK, you learn by experience and will have to get through a few hairy moments over the years. But having the knowledge of the ins and outs of a DJ booth seems to be a lost art, given that many DJs have grown up with nothing more than a laptop and beat-syncing. I once played a student night at fabric, and witnessed a young DJ duo produce a cheat sheet on how to operate a CDJ out of their handbags. Seriously. Needless to say they were playing in the same room as Peaches Geldof. OK, so was I, but I had to take over from the notorious (sh)it girl when she realised that she had burnt MP3 data CDs and for some reason fabric only had CDJ-1000 MK IIs in Room 3 which wouldn’t play them… which to be fair, wasn’t really her fault. She still sucks though. On that note…
4. Celebrity DJs. I don’t think this one needs any explanation.
5. DJs who don’t how to warm up. A few years ago, I played an early afternoon slot on the outdoor terrace at Cargo on a Saturday afternoon. The DJ playing before me – who was finishing around 2 or 3 PM – finished with Dubfire’s remix of Plastikman – Spastik. at full 128 BPM tempo. What the fuck is that? Do you literally have no consideration for the people who you are playing for and the DJs playing after you? There’s a subtle art and a satisfying pleasure to be had from a good warm-up set, and people often say it’s the hardest set to do. I’ve seen far, far too many DJs who have absolutely no clue how to ease the floor into submission and set the tone for the night ahead, starting off house nights at 126-128 BPM (coronary-inducing in these chuggy days). There’s no rush. Stop tonking it out at 10 PM, fools.
6. DJs with no sense of space and time. There’s a balance to be struck between playing your vision of music and playing what the crowd want to hear, but if you’re a DJ, you’re supposed to be able to adapt to different situations and put your own ego to one side to make people happy. If you’ve been booked for the wrong place at the wrong time, perhaps it’s not your fault – but I can’t stand single-minded self-indulgence with no regard for the dancefloor. I saw one of the names on everyone’s lips play a mid-afternoon, sun-drenched set under the shade of a beautiful tree at one of the UK’s best boutiquey sort of festivals this summer, and he played an hour of cold, hard, inaccessible, emotion-less techno that was more suited to a dark, moody warehouse at 4 AM rather than his 4 PM set time. That’s just not what you do at fun-fuelled festival in the sun in a beautiful, sociable setting. Don’t be so inelastic.
7. Wasted DJs. Annoying, dribbling, sweaty, deluded messes. Wait ’til your set is over. DJs are best when they have all their wits about them and are focused on the job at hand. I think its hideous when you go and see a DJ and they are off their tits and clearly not about their wits (tits ‘n’ wits: very important). If you are a professional DJ, by definition – act like one. Save the hedonism for the afterparty, BRO.
8. DJs who illegally download and share music they play. The bottom has fallen out of the sales market and left distributors, labels and artists going bust, and while legal, consensual alternatives exist for the pure listener, anyone who is profiting financially from the use of other people’s music – i.e. DJing and getting paid for it – should at least have the decency to pay for the original file or procure it legitimately. I’ve lost count of the number of times friends an acquaintances have asked me to send them a promo I’ve received. A few stock phrases: “The label will never know!” – I don’t give a shit, they didn’t give me permission to send the track out to any whingey twat who wants it, and I’m not violating the privilege they have given me and the trust imbued in that agreement just so you can rinse the track and shorten its shelf-life in the process. “I’m not going to buy it anyway!” – OK, then you can’t care that much about it, so I’m sure you can live without it. Etc, repeat to fade. Then there was the time that I young guy I know who works in PR and also DJs sent me a link to a site full of illegal downloads of the latest promos. I told him he was a complete dick if he was trying to make his living from the dance music industry while simultaneously devaluing its product and helping destroy it in the process, and he felt chastised enough to change his ways (or so he said anyway). Then there are those who think that if they have bought a track, it gives them the right to share it with mates and vice versa, like some sort of Panini swapshop for MP3s and WAVs. It’s fucking depressing. We are the ones who are supposed to keep sales alive in this industry. A bit of integrity wouldn’t go amiss.
9. I think that’s enough whinging for one day, don’t you? Here’s a picture of a cat DJing to redress the balance: