Posts Tagged ‘ influence ’

What Does It Take To Be An Amazing DJ?

Take a look at this photograph.

Thousands of adoring fans worshiping every move you make and you don’t have to share that moment with anyone other than the crowd.  It’s pretty powerful.  These images get served to DJs and non DJs alike all the time.  If you are a DJ, and you play out enough for long enough, this is what you get to experience.   What no one really tells you is that in order to be like this guy, you have to be amazing.  I know I’m stating the obvious but it’s really important to remind ourselves that to get to this level of achievement requires exceptional qualities. There are DJs whom I don’t particularly care for their genre of choice, however I would never discredit what they did in order to get to where they are.  I respect any DJ that achieves the moment the DJ in this picture does because I bet that it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work, sacrifice, and soul searching.  That’s not all though . . .

What does it take to be amazing?  Believe it or not it takes three things to be truly amazing.  I’m going to use the word amazing a lot because it’s not good, or great, it’s nothing short of amazing or beyond that – mindblowing.  So now that we have our spectrum of greatness down let’s talk about being amazing and how to do that.  We actually can take a note from the master painters on this one.  Picasso, Braque and the art of Cubism.  “Creativity happens when someone does something new that is also useful or generative or influential.  Useful means that the new thing solves a problem.  Generative means that the new thing leads to other ideas or things.  Influential means that the new thing changes the way people look at, or listen to, or think about, or do, things like it.” (Stokes, 2006, 1) Picasso and Braque changed the entire landscape of painting by introducing a new way of looking at the world and interpreting it through Cubism.   “Their new thing, called Cubism, changed how some people (critics, dealers, collectors) looked at and thought about representational painting, and it changed how some other people (artists) painted.” (Stokes, 2006, 1)

In other words if you are useful and serve a purpose, lead DJs to other ideas, and change how people look at their life or listen to music – you are on your way to being amazing.  Now there are plenty of other things that make a DJ amazing but in my opinion these are the three essential things that contribute to a DJ’s amazingness. Let’s break it down a little further.

Being Useful

Most people, if not all, have issues in their lives.   The need to let go is central to the whole point of going out and having an experience.   The DJ is the maestro, the architect – of escape and meditation.   Based on your purpose, being useful, you are there to help people work through their problems.  You are the therapist and music is your mode of therapy.   Your purpose is to help someone deal with the fact they got fired, a lover left them, and to celebrate the beauty in their lives.  That is your job.   Once you understand this purpose you are on your way to being amazing.

Being Generative

Amazing DJs bring something new to the table.   A different way of interpreting music, engaging with it, and participating in the expression of it.  Amazing DJs generate new ways of looking at the craft.  It’s not necessarily just technique or exploiting the latest technology though.  It’s also about voice.  Picasso and Braque presented a new voice in painting.  They abandoned all notions of literal representation of the real world and truly experimented with a different way of looking at things.  Amazing DJs push the boundaries of the craft, and of themselves, and take the art to the next level.

Being Influential

There’s such a thing as a bridge DJ.  A bridge DJ is someone who is able to reach out and induct the uninitiated into their world.  The interesting thing about bridge DJs is that they don’t necessarily cater to mainstream or certainly that is not their aim.  Whatever it is they are doing enables others to truly see their point of view and create a bridge between themselves and their audience.  To the extent that it is futile to resist that DJs effect on you.   An influential DJ refuses to give up on the fact that they are trying to teach and educate as well as facilitate an experience.  Influential means breaking boundaries AND being able communicate them in a way that hits people right in the gut.  I’ll admit, for a long time I did not get techno.  I had heard enough techno ( probably bad techno ) from my early raving days and if I never heard it again I was fine with it.  Then through the insistence of a friend, I listened to a Carl Cox live set and then I got it.  I got techno.  From there I branched out to other related artists and realized there was a whole world of techno that I had never been exposed to.  Carl Cox was my bridge DJ for really good techno.  Now I don’t spin techno predominantly but Carl Cox did affect my discography in some way as I settled on mininal techno as an important supplement to my deep house, electro and breaks genre choices.  That’s influence.

I can’t tell you how to be useful, or generative, or influential – I can only tell you that I truly believe these are the qualities you must possess to be amazing.  It’s up to you to define those things for yourself and work hard to get to the level you set for yourself.   I encourage you to ask yourself these questions as your go through your creative process: is what I’m doing purposeful, is what I’m doing unique, is what I’m doing changing mindsets?  Once you can confidently say yes to all of those questions – you have tapped into amazingness.

Now go with your amazing self – you can do it!

Recap: Amazingness is not just about hard work.  Be useful – help people work through their stuff.  Be generative – bring new thoughts and ideas to the craft.  Be influential – create a bridge to your world, inspire to look at music in a whole new way.

Source: Stokes, Patricia D, Creativity From Constraints: The Psychology of Breakthrough, Springer Publishing Company, Inc. 2006.