Timmy Johnston (the_untitled) wrote,
Timmy Johnston

DJs - Think before you push the button

Before I start, I am not a DJ, am not aspiring to be one, my beat mixing sounds like train tracks before a pile up. My opinion comes from a fan, an appreciator of all things electronic music.
However I respect DJs, and have been shuffling on dance floors since I was old enough to go to bush raves, and snuck into nightclubs in the mid 90s. While I don't want to come off like a condescending old fart, I do believe I've been around, heard a few tracks (sometimes 3 or 4 rehashes over time), and have a small authority on the subject.

I don't get excited about the latest MoS release any more, however I still obtain a copy of the Annual every year .. eventually. See I'm not an elitist, I actually happen to think that the multi national conglomerate that is now Ministry of Sound, has been and continues to be relevant to dance floors over the last 20 years. DJs wouldn't have the recognition for their mixing and production abilities, had it not been for them.

So anyway, I cycle through the twists and turns of the three disc set (I liked it better when it was two - too long!), and something is missing when I listen to it. Could it be me? Have I reached my thirties, and lost the love for the beat? Is it because I don't like going to festivals anymore? These days it feels like there's more festivals than marquee club events, and therefore lost their impact. It's not enough to jump around with your friends all night, you've got to do it all day as well? Ask any old school raver - daytime is for work and sleeping.
It could be part of the problem, but that wasn't quite it. As I progressed into the third disc several hours later, it finally hit me...

The uplifting feeling of these U2-esque chords, the soothing voice of a soul diva telling us that 'everything is going to be alright', the lyrics - chant worthy of a winning football team, as you hug your new best friend and belt it out loud together ... had no effect whatsoever.
I found myself feeling the need to find the 'next track' button, something I NEVER do (I am a firm believer in listening to a whole section of music - as it was meant to be appreciated).

Why? Because I already did the same thing to Track 1, and 2, and 3, and every other fucking track thereafter! I was over it.

See the thing about festivals, is the set that you play is meant to suit a variety of different people, in a shorter space of time. Festival sets last about an hour, two at the most. You play the hits in the same way a rock band plays all their well known stuff, but rock bands also play their extended sets during their own shows, and the die hard fans see their show, and buy their studio albums, a much different experience.

The art of crafting a club set is dying, because the unwritten rules of etiquette among DJs are being largely ignored. This means DJ's are not warming up the crowd anymore, the first DJ of the night is playing their festival or podcast set, still drunk on the fact they were probably playing to a 50,000 strong crowd the night before. And I can sympathise to a degree, it's hard to read the crowd when they're small paint blobs on a mural, separated by about 3 lines of metal, fluro shirted security, and the click of a thousand photographers.

Still. You're probably thinking what the fuck has this got to do with a mix CD?

Well this mix CD feels like... Radio, Channel [V], VH1, MTV, and all the things I used to go to a club to escape. DJs used to rebel against these machines, finding new and unique ways to produce beats, hooks and grooves, now it feels like every track produced is just a copy of a remix of a copy of a copy. I'm watching the homogenisation of dance music happening in front of my eyes, and it's really sad to think where we might end up.

So DJ's, before you push the button, think about the big picture here. The thousands of button pushers before you, had no aspirations of rock style stardom, they just wanted to spend several hours taking a precious few hardcore fans on a musical journey, actually seeing the twinkle in they're eye as they get excited about a frequency turn, or the subtle drop of a high hat, the likes of which they have never heard before. Because if they wanted chart toppers and karaoke, they could have just gotten up early and gone to work.
Don't shit in the bed, and fuck it up for those who have worked so hard to get it to where it was when you first started.
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