Posts Tagged ‘ evolution of the dj ’

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

Open Question: What’s Next for DJing?

I firmly believe that DJ’ing and DJ culture as a whole has evolved so beautifully and elegantly. It continues to be an artistic pursuit that provides transformational experiences for many people (good job everyone!).  I was thinking – what’s next for us?   I’m musing on the stages of evolution for an art form and trying to frame it in terms of DJ culture.  I brainstormed a list of phases below.  I’m trying to work out what’s next for us and how we can keep evolving.  I can honestly say, I think our future is strong but also delicate.

I’ve kept the descriptions of each phase very general ( and somewhat cryptic ) because I want you to have some reference to what I mean – I’m sure I missed other ways to describe these phases.  Ask yourself these questions too: Where are we exactly in this spectrum in relation to DJ culture and in relation to music performance at large ( bands for example )?  Is a particular phase a function of location?  What important events have occurred or need to occur in music or technology that ushers in one phase from another?

Phases of evolution of the art of DJ’ing:

  • Pioneering – the first DJs.
  • Foundation – Small group of DJs working out the mechanics and method, the art form is being established.
  • Exclusiveness – Underground only for the select few.
  • Momentum – Forums for public performance, complete support.
  • Exponential Growth – DJs and market is fully immersed and mass audience are knowledgeable that DJs exist.  Variety of tool sets available.
  • Peak  –  Market saturation. Expectations and pressures at all time high.  Full understanding of tool sets. Potential for backlash.
  • Plateau – Technique/musicality is in stasis, longer periods of time between innovation which occur as blips not milestones.  DJs creatively regrouping. Backlash and commercialization evident.
  • Resurgence – Time has passed, less faithful and creative weeded out (although this can occur in any phase), core remaining group building foundations for next level.   Audience returns/new audience injects fresh energy and ideas.
  • Climb – Lessons from previous phases are applied.  Respect of art form re-established.  Fresh perspectives become norm.  Next phase in evolution is in full swing.

Another way to look at this list is as a cycle.  It’s quite possible you can apply the first phases to something that is happening right now in a particular technique, performance or genre.  That’s great – go for it.  The point is to find your center of understanding and take it from there.

I ran this by a trusted DJ.  We talked about when looking at it from music and performance history as a whole, DJs have only just begun (Exclusiveness/Momentum).  Looking at it from the inside, from the NYC DJ perspective, we are just cresting Exponential Growth and into Peak (again, debatable).  My gut feeling is we’ve got a potential bump in the road no matter what.  That’s Plateau. We need to think seriously about Plateau.  In my opinion, it could be the longest lasting and sedentary stage – triggering the next phase will be tough.  However, we could look at this way: Plateau might be what we need in order to take a breather and regroup from Peak.  I’d like to think that’s what Plateau can do for us, the questions still come however – are we there yet to even think about it, do we fight it or let it happen, is the concept even relevant for our culture?  I wish I had the answers.

Recap: We are evolving.  Where are we? What do we do about the possibility of Plateau? If you feel we are in a certain phase, think about what you can do as an artist to deal with the current situation and adapt/change/set yourself apart.

I’ve created a poll below.  I am curious as to where you think we are. Unfortunately, the poll doesn’t allow me to finesse location or your criteria for your answer so write to me if you want to explain or discuss this post further (BIO).