Thursday, 14 July 2011

Personal DJ History

My first proper gig I idiotically roped in a friend (who introduced me to the ways of the technoes) to warm up.
Had I done the gig alone (and possibly not pissed him off by telling him what not to play) and not ended a decent enough set on a fucking awful selection with shockingly bad production, I may have got the regular spot instead of him.
Use your brains.

My next stint was via a bouncer I knew at a trendy bar. Fucking disaster - the place was always empty except for the VIP room which was NEXT DOOR to the bar I was 'spinning' in. (Not my fault, but that set up just never fucking works - piped music is piped and if you can only 'read the crowd' by intermittently running back and forth to another room then, well, you can't read your fucking crowd can ya?)
One night, no word of a lie, I dropped a tune off a U2 album that wasn't actually U2. As coincidence would have it, after I packed up and was waiting downstairs fucking Bo-no swans in for a late-night tipple.
Maybe if I'd had an audience to bounce off I mightn't have been so bored after playing four hours of music to a solitary barman and still been playing tunes for the arrival of His Highness and consequently not been dropped like a hot snot.
Play until you're told to stop.

In film school I made a short documentary about DJ-ing. Used a local pro to to demonstrate the 'ins and outs' in a 'day in the life' kind of thing.
After wrapping he invited me to dj at a house party.
I wanted to cater for the drunk guests as well as the ecstasy riddled hosts. Bad idea.
Much like men will follow women to the floor no matter what, drunks will dance to anything as long as ANYONE is dancing.
I was playing out the boom boom and decided to switch it up and throw in some Prince and shite. The wrecked buzz was palpable. That decision brought everyone (except the three drunk fuckers) down 10 notches and the messy drunks finished off the buzz-wreck as I tried to get the techno-train rolling again. But it was too late. That 5% again. Never be 'clever'.

Next up was the 'party scene' proper. I just about had the stamina, and did get away with playing sets for the drunks and then for the rockers and then pillheads, but as dawn rolled in through the windows and bathed the place in a peachy glow, I denied the druggies their banging tunes and played out 'Les Fluers'. It was fucking beautiful but only one other person (also a dj) really appreciated it.
Then, in disgust I popped a Joey Beltram banger on the table and played it over and over. They ate it up. I sneered down my nose and forgot to play the reserve techno mix-CD I'd had, just grabbed all my shit and stormed off.
I was not invited back to play. You are not 'better' than your crowd.

I did a number of after-party sets for a very popular '80's cover band. They'd pull about a thousand proper fans in a few times a year. They paired me up with another cunt. (The only time that has ever worked for me was at my own party one time - playing one-for-one with a good buddy. Great fun, but a once off).
First few nights were successful enough, particularly because he'd fuck off and leave me to play Madonna 'Like a Prayer' and New Order 'Blue Monday' and rock the fucking place by the end.
But then he ditched the cd's and brought in a laptop.
I'd peer over his shoulder at the playlist and ask him not to play certain tracks I'd hauled all the way across town.
Not cool. Either way.
He ended up playing very lukewarm New Jack bullshit and emptying the room.
I'd pick it back up but the energy would drop again on his next set.
No consistency and I no doubt ticked him off considerably. That last night I ended up playing pure rubbish to a room a third full of disinterested piss heads.
Don't be a dick.
If possible I will only ever play out solo again. Only trouble is smoke breaks.

And my last stint (in a '70's styled bar) was killed by a badly chosen smoke-break record.
I didn't even really need that smoke, but I threw on an extended spiraling funk record with ridiculous sprawling sax solos going nowhere.
When I got in from the cig, maybe four minutes into the worst of the tune I realised I'd have to pull it.
As I flicked the fader to a Doobie Brothers track, the head barman was at my shoulder already complaining.
"Yeah, I realise that tune was rubbish, that's why I flicked to this one" didn't save me. Neither did "I don't tell you how shit a barman you are you cunt" oddly enough.
And they cancelled my NYE gig without notice. Nice.
Don't be a lazy selfish cunt.

Perhaps one day I will play a successful gig or six.
Or perhaps you shall, if we all bear in mind these failures.


  1. dang son, stop dropping prince when people are high on extacy. from whati can tell they just want bass and speed!

    anyways haha, good read! now wheres the techniques i don't know yet!?!!??

  2. *shakes head*
    I still cringe at myself.

  3. Interesting story bro! Gotta be life changing being a dj ") +1

  4. I enjoyed reading your post, sounds like it's all very troublesome to me =3

    Good luck with your future gigs, maybe you'll get lucky!

    Great blog, followed.

  5. See, that's why I no longer pick music at parties. Because I am always guilty. Guilty of breaking the mood, guilty of not having terrible taste in music, and guilty of playing things no one else knows. Then again, all the people I party with want either rap or shitty radio rock. I couldn't DJ. Because I would just be terrible. 100% pure fucking terrible in the minds of the people I'm DJing to. The closest I came to Djing was throwing on albums in between band sets at the band I was playing ins last show ever.

  6. hard to succeed without failing first. at least you've taking a moment to realize what you did wrong in each instance. great of you to share so a newbie like myself will try to avoid the same mistakes :)

  7. I have always wanted to be a DJ. I just never got around to doing it... :(

  8. Hehehe, some of these sound like common sense.. others seem more like discipline. With each mistake you learn, that's what matters, right?

  9. I really enjoyed reading this. I appreciate you taking the time to write all of this out.

    Hopefully the lessons learned will translate into successful paying gigs in the future!

  10. sounds like crappy experiences, best of luck if you decide to play again