Friday, October 22, 2010


Please take this for inspiration though it may come off harsh.

I am not the perfect dj, and yes art is subjective! Just this afternoon, I decided instead of roaming through the radio stations (educating myself on random tunes), while driving to Evanston (which is beautiful this time of year) I would listen to mixes that other “dj’s” had given me recently. Though I will not name names (I could LOL), I was utterly disappointed to find that these individuals either are not mixing at ALL or doing it poorly.

Having come from being awed on the dance floor and wanting to convey the feelings that one LIL LOUIS happened to evoke in me (as a kid), I became obsessed with listening to and figuring out how dj’s transitioned from one song to another. I was slow about calling myself a dj because I knew that Chicago was (and still is) a breeding ground for dj’s AND of course harsh critics. When one comes from vinyl; straight arm pitched dial tables, to standard technic 1200′s, to cdjs, up to mixing software (serato), you learn the ropes. The entire trip is MOSTLY based on tuning ones ear, translating through the equipment to the crowd.

Of course there has been many debates about technologies influence and the trend of djing, with everyone from random celebrities, to little kids playing dj hero, assuming that they can rock a party. My issue is TITLE. In my opinion if you aren’t even attempting to MIX 2 mp3s, vinyl or cds TOGETHER seamlessly (or close), you are not “MIXING” and I’d almost go as far as to say NOT DJING. Scratching, transitioning, even dropping tracks, ON BEAT is a part of the art. I even respect cats hollering (though I hate the air horn) over tracks when transitioning from song to song.

Titling yourself as a “dj” and getting gigs to play out and simply playing one song after the other without honing and using the skill as stated above is NOT DJING (in my opinion). Call it selecting, call it hosting or toasting. When i think mix cd’s i think MIXING. A cd with spaces (dead air) between each song is not a mix it’s a compilation. I don’t care if you have the hottest music taste, find the rarest grooves, unearth every bob marley and michael jackson tune never heard.

People need to know that mixing and djing is an art and learn the true fundamentals. You only add to why ipods can easily be used to replace dj’s doing otherwise.

Listen to your tunes and find out what sounds similar and work on mixing and transitioning. No one is perfect at it and yes some rely heavily on editing or djing software instead training their ears.

I am applying this way of thinking to my next endeavor (production) as well stay tuned!

Even the best of the best can learn new and different things, I love this cat and his videos! Peep and be inspired!

If you want it to be real work at it. There are far too many ways to learn.

Originally posted at Phatoms blog:


JDLP said...

Good stuff DJ FATHOM!

When I saw this I smiled because it is very true & needs to be said, also because this the kind of stuff I envisioned DJs talking about on here when I started the blog.

Like it was stated .. none of us are perfect as DJs or just as humans.. but if you call yourself a "DJ" then there are certain things that you need to do & be good at.
It's more than looking the part.

Keep up the good work! JDLP

MassT said...

True Dat!
But sadly, I see more and more people calling themselves deejays that are not mixing at large, popular bars.
Not to call any bars out BUT I had 2 horrible experiences at Debonair (downstairs) where the deejay had no idea how to mix and yet was somehow booked to play a crowded weekend night.... needless to say people trying to dance were disappointed. Deejaying takes practice so folks need to realize they need 6-12 months working at home before they even think about trying to deejay a professional event!

algoriddim said...

I remember when I first got on the radio in Chicago 15 years ago, I'd have people calling in the station saying "MIX"!! Since then, you'll pretty much never hear the crackly end of a tune coming from me. Some folks I've talked with grumbled about me juggling from tune to tune, but that's part of the energy, or the pace of the mix.

I don't think I'd mix reggae the way I do if I hadn't heard Chicago house DJs all those years ago blending til your head spun.