Archive for the ‘ DJ Grab Bag ’ Category

KNOW WHERE TO (JUMP)START

Endless Flight “I’m Starting To Feel Ok”

Again one of those DJ inspirations from the strangest places.  Or more explicitly, traditional artists informing DJs – the creative process is really the same for both.

Sometimes you just need a jolt, shot in the arm, some old timey “get off your arse and get going” kind of advice.

Jack London, author of Call of the Wild (you probably had to read this in grade school) – iconic American author has the following to say (taken from excerpts in his memoir) which I suggest you apply to your DJing.

1. Be decisive, choose something, then attack it.

Writing wasn’t London’s first career choice. When he was forced to leave college early after his finances dried up, he needed to do something:

I decided immediately to embark on my career. I had four preferences: first, music; second, poetry; third, the writing of philosophic, economic and political essays, and, fourth, and last, and least, fiction writing. I resolutely cut out music as impossible, settled down in my bedroom, and tackled my second third and fourth choices simultaneously. Heavens, how I wrote! Never was there a creative fever such as mine from which the patient escaped fatal results. The way I worked was enough to soften my brain and send me to a mad-house.

The early days for London were a period of restless exploration. He tried everything. But most tellingly, he wrote a lot.

2. Be persistent, endure struggle, and hone your craft.

We all have to toil away in our creative pursuits. But harder than the work itself can be the long period of gestation when it feels like nothing is happening.

The trouble with the beginner at the writing game is the long dry spells, when there is never an editor’s check and everything pawnable is pawned.

Success, though, is a stacking of the bricks. Each one leads to the next, and along the way the technique gets more effortless.


3. Develop a routine and be relentless about it.

One key is figuring out what works for you and developing a steady routine. A common denominator of successful creative people is simply pulling the reps.

As I succeeded with my writing, my standard of living rose and my horizon broadened. I confined myself to writing and typing a thousand words a day, including Sundays and holidays; and I still studied hard, but not so hard as formerly… There was so much to learn so much to be done, that I felt wicked when I slept seven hours. And I blessed the man who invented alarm clocks.


4. Settle into a groove and make the act of creating part of your life.

At some point the routine becomes a livelihood. What you do is not separate from who you are. Your day is in service to your craft.

The program of my ranch life was as follows: Each morning, at eight-thirty, having been reading or correcting proofs since four or five, I went to my desk. Odds and ends of correspondence and notes occupied me till nine, and at nine sharp invariably, I began my writing. By eleven, sometimes a few minutes earlier or later, my thousand words were finished. Another half hour cleaning up my desk, and my day’s work was done, so that at eleven-thirty I got into a hammock under the trees with my mail bag and the morning newspaper. At twelve-thirty I ate dinner and in the afternoon I swam and rode.

Source: Call of The Wild’s Jack London On Honing Your Creative Craft

A DJ’s Booth Is Their Castle

Music DNA

An artists space is a really personal thing.  It’s a place of comfort, safety, chaos and most importantly creativity!  DJ’s love looking at pictures of DJ booths to see how the gear is set up, not to mention to get a peep of what kind of gear they’re using am-I-right?  One thing I notice sometimes is the lack of visual aesthetic on the walls though.  You know it’s not just about how pretty the gear looks or the table it’s on.  You need more beauty than that if you’re going to tap into the artistic side of your brain.

Why not put art on your walls that actually represent music!

I found this great article on various data visualization projects that turn music into art.

Now get those drab walls singing!

http://www.cassandradaily.com/media/visualizing-music/

The Music Marketing Manifesto. Ten Principles For Success

These are some pretty smart principles and are relevant for DJs and producers.  I’m a big fan of Music Think Tank as they have in depth articles about the music industry that are really helpful and actionable.  For a description of each of these principles click on the article link below.

1. Write, record and play high quality music

2. Continue to only deal in high quality

3. Be your own biggest critic and biggest promoter

4. Register with the PRS For Music

5. Plan to release music – never just release it

6. Promote before the release

7. Don’t create fake hype – be honest and humble

8. Understand the rules and the realities

9. Remember relationships aren’t built with a Like or a Follow

10. Think in stories and cycles

http://www.musicthinktank.com/blog/the-music-marketing-manifesto-ten-principles-for-success.html

Producers and DJs looking depressed!

Illum Sphere

Illum Sphere

I understand that looking serious is very important in a DJ/Producer headshot.  No one wants to look like the ridiculous clown the media constantly portrays them as and everyone wants to be recognized as an artist.

HOWEVER, I found this new Tumblr of a series of photos of DJs and Producers looking depressed to be absolutely hilarious.  It’s all about context and in this context it’s let’s have a good laugh about it all. Sometimes we take ourselves TOO seriously (which I love you for no matter what).

Producers and DJs looking depressed.

Need DJ Inspiration? Go To The Movies!

 

Photo Credit: Stereo Club of Southern Californa

I’m a firm believer that you need to know your history to get a sense of your present and see the patterns that can help define your future.  I do want to comment though that the idea that things will be the same again, like the way we used to do it, is already a closed chapter.  The conditions and environment and tastes and music are just not the same to completely recreate the vibe of the past – enjoy the nostalgia for what it is.  Innovation is taking the best from the past and bringing into the present as a fresh perspective.  Which is why I think you should schedule yourself some DJ inspiration movie marathon time.  Beatport has come out with a list of the best Detroit Techno documentaries ever made.  This doesn’t have to be about techno, there are a ton of hip-hop, house, and rave documentaries to mine for inspiration. DJ Tech Tools has a regular column devoted to DJ/Producer documentaries.  The point is to get to know the heroes that made it happen and if you were one of the lucky ones to go through the experience while it was happening, see what you can do to honor it.

The 10 best Detroit techno documentaries ever – Beatport News.

Even More Documentaries for Producers and DJs – DJ Tech Tools

DJs OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM

Greetings everyone!  I am happy to announce my partnership with the Dope Underground Beats project.   See me put DJs in the hot seat where I ask them questions about their inspirations and creativity (and they have no choice to answer my questions, because I’m so charming).   After that you get to enjoy watching and listening to an exclusive set, recorded in HD, of each DJ in their element.  If you need new influences, new music, a breath of fresh air if you will, tune in.

Here is more info for you.

Based on two premises, giving back to the DJ community and allowing for safe uninterrupted creative space, the Dope Underground Beats project is dedicated to profiling up and coming DJs and encouraging them to be in their element. The DJs are given one task, play what they want as if no one is watching. Freed of expectations, the DJ is allowed to express their true creative side and let their point of view shine through unencumbered. Mustapha Louafi, the brains behind the DUB project, has been a lifelong DJ and DJ community supporter. He carefully selects each DJ based on their individuality and musical sentience.

Each set is paired with an interview by Behind The Decks founder and DJ coach Cristina DiGiacomo that illuminates each DJs background, goals, influences and intentions for their set. In addition, sets are recorded and filmed in HD quality audio and video so the viewer gets the most immersive experience possible – throw a set onto your TV and you’ve got your own personal DJ in the room. As you explore each set one thing will become apparent, each set is like a fingerprint, no one set sounds or looks like the other allowing for diversity and the sense that you will find something truly unique.
www.dopeundergroundbeats.com

THE WHAT’S MY SOUND DJ CHALLENGE

The What’s My Sound DJ Challenge is meant for you to look closely at the elements of music that inspire you.  Perhaps you feel too influenced by the market or are stuck and need some grounding.  This is also a good exercise to help you identify your sound or style.  The big eye opener for me was at one time I thought my sound was “dark” (or that’s what I thought I should be or was told that’s what I should be), and really I was just fooling myself, because what I came to realize was that I was more “light” and “romantic”.  Give this a try – you may just learn something about yourself.

THE WHAT’S MY SOUND DJ CHALLENGE

Look at your track collection and pick 10 songs that you cannot live without.  Don’t just pick songs you got recently, really dig into your “crate” and pick ten songs.  Songs that if you were stranded on a desert island you could listen to for the rest of your life.   Don’t evaluate them yet, just pick them out.   Now, pretend those are the only tracks you have – forget about your collection.  Listen to every track. Don’t think you just know them because they’re your favorites.  Listen to them, really listen.   Now evaluate them – but evaluate them in terms of what they signify about YOU.   What are the elements of these tracks that are similar?  What sounds are you hearing that may be consistent through all of them?  Is there one theme or word that describes all ten?  These are your passion tracks.   If you have identified what makes these songs resonate with you, then you have identified your passion sound.  Moving forward, when you listen to new tracks you will evaluate new tracks in relation to what your passion sounds are.  This will help you continue to build a strong discography based on authenticity and individuality.

NO EXCUSES

I don’t have time

I’m not feeling it today

That DJ doesn’t deserve that gig

I can’t play what I want

It’s hard in this city

I’m broke

I have no style

People/The industry sucks

The above statements are just a few of the excuses I hear from DJs from time to time.  If any of the above apply to you, that’s ok! It’s totally normal – BUT I’m not having it and neither should you.  The purpose of this post is to help you reframe the negative thoughts in your head that are keeping you from being creative and getting better as a DJ.  If you are happy pointing the finger at someone or something else stop reading and don’t expect progress any time soon.  But there’s another way – the NO EXCUSES way.  There are so many distractions these days that keep you from establishing or maintaining a consistent DJ creative process.  I’m here to tell you that excuses and blaming get you NOWHERE.

Now let’s revisit these excuses with some more positive statements.

I don’t have time —-> I can dedicate an hour a day to DJing.

I’m not feeling it today —-> I don’t have to be perfect all the time, I just need to touch DJing in some way.

That DJ doesn’t deserve that gig —-> If that person can get a gig, I know I’m going to make it.

I can’t play what I want —-> I can figure out a way to play what I want.

It’s hard in this city —-> I can make my own opportunity, I just need to brainstorm some ideas.

I’m broke —-> I can start small, I can just listen to music – that’s free.

I have no style —-> I haven’t found my style yet that’s all. I just need to keep working at it and listen to myself.

People/The industry sucks —-> I need to find people and do things that are meaningful to me. I do not have to be a slave or compromise.

I will be posting more in depth pieces on how to deal with these gremlins but in the meantime start thinking about what you are saying to yourself that is holding you back!

QUOTES FROM MUSIC LEGENDS

I’m taking a break from my in-depth musings (rants?) about DJ’ing and thought you needed inspirational quotes from music legends.  Their words apply to what you do – or else I wouldn’t be sharing them.  Bonus: nice little images you can post near your decks to keep you going.

Dualities – The DJ Conundrum

Wow.  It has been almost one month since my last post.  The time has just gone by so fast and furiously, that I didn’t even realize how far behind schedule I was on BTD.  Between work, holidays and other projects I have not done my due diligence in keeping up with my creative habit.

Which is exactly what this post is about.

I talk a lot about the creative habit – how you have to make time for being creative, being mindful of your process, making the right choices for yourself as an artist.  Here I am now faced with one of the biggest challenges – making time to be creative.  I’m sure you experience the same issue – as a matter of fact I know you are.  I’ve had a lot of DJs tell me how it’s really hard to commit to DJ’ing because they have a job and other responsibilities.   I have witnessed how difficult it is to come home from a grueling day job and have to prepare for your party, get psyched, get everyone else psyched, and then not sleeping until the next morning.   It almost can put a damper on the whole endeavor and there comes a time where you need to face the duality of your situation – Job vs. DJ’ing.  Hopefully you have thought this through and have found balance and worked creative time into your schedule ( if you are struggling with this – write to me! )

Job vs. DJ’ing is just one of many dualities you will encounter.  See below an excerpt from Behind The Decks: Establishing the DJ’s Creative Understanding:

There are conflicts that you encounter sometimes during your creative process. “One of the most important things you must do is refuse to take sides with dualities like process and product, simplicity and complexity, discipline and flexibility, and so on, dualities that are integral parts of the creative process.” (Eric Maisel, Coaching the Artist Within ) There’s a  push/pull when playing out for an audience, between what you want to do and what’s expected of you.

While the temptation is to choose one over the other, you need to embrace the fact that there are dualities with what you do. The important thing is to recognize when you are arguing with yourself over these dualities. How you handle those dualities is what frees you to do your work. “We make our own grief by choosing to align with one side or another of these dualities. We say, “I must do commercial work!” or “I must do personal work!” and miss the possibility of doing integrative work that satisfies both masters. We say, “It’s only good if it’s simple!” or, “It’s only worthy if it’s complex!”and ignore the obvious truth that a single brushstroke carries the complexity of a human life and a complex idea can wow us with its elegant simplicity.” (Maisel) There are a few major dualities that DJs talked to me about. How much do you manipulate the music, self vs. the audience, and ART vs. COMMERCE. Depending on your DJ philosophy, chopping up a track or layering effects so that only the essence of the original can be detected may be what you’re comfortable with – but if you are conflicted about that, because maybe you feel pressure that’s what you must do, you must decide how you feel you can comfortably execute and still maintain your sense of self, and your philosophy, in the process. Self vs. the audience is simple – do you DJ for yourself or do you DJ for the audience, or a little of both? ART vs. COMMERCE is a huge issue. DJ’ing is such a new art and all you want to do is share the joy and the passion that comes with it to the world, and yet, there are a lot of challenges you face in getting the outside world to recognize you. So you have to deal with requests, or a dance floor that only responds to a genre you are not prepared or specialized in, or venue owners that refuse to have a genre set one note through the door. So do you give in to ART purely, or do you give into COMMERCE purely – that’s the push/pull and that is a duality you must acknowledge.

DJ Homework:  Sit down and think about the dualities of DJ’ing and what you are personally dealing with.  Figure out what side you’re on with your duality and see how your perspective as a DJ is affected by that stance.  If you feel you have been leaning to one side a little too much, try the other side and see how that feels.  If you feel really strong one way – then just own it!