Experienced DJ in changing times

People are fully aware to be one of the best DJ’s you need to be adaptable, reliable and up for a party! With the climate as it is with the Coronavirus¬†keeping bars, clubs and wedding venues currently closed for the foreseeable future it really is quite hard to show you are one of the best DJ’s to book! Not only is there no where for people to come and see you work, there is an unspoken, hard part to the job. That is the big learning curve all us DJ’s have had to go through right now – playing in your kitchen/lounge/garage/garden to no dancers and usually in broad daylight. Until now I never realised just how much I rely on at least a good team of staff to keep an atmosphere high while you’re setting up and starting your set. To say I play to a crowd has proven to be an understatement!

For the first few ‘live streams’ during this time while stood in my very bright and uninspiring kitchen I found it so hard to even blend 2 songs together. I honestly felt like I sounded like an amateur. Listening back, it was more than a thought – I definitely did sound like an amateur! After a few attempts at this I gave it some actual thought and wondered what I could do differently. Cue my eldest daughter and I dressed up ready for a party, and the big switch on of a disco light. It helped, marginally. I still couldn’t mix, or select songs, which are up to my ‘usual’ standard. I’m in no way saying I’m the best DJ ever, that’s not the case. However I knew I was better than my live streams were showing! Not only this, I was also not impressed at the sound being forced down the listeners ears! It was dreadful as it was simply my smartphone streaming from my monitor speakers in my kitchen.

So after this I gave it yet more thought. Firstly, how could I improve the sound quality. Secondly, how could I improve my mixing and song choices without a crowd. After all, I’m used to DJing for 4 – 5 hours a night, with no problem and usually lots of compliments about my song choices and DJ ability.

Solution to problem 1. It was an easy and cost effective fix. From one of the outputs on my Pioneer XDJ-XZ, into an attenuator, to a small wire called a Rode, and straight into my smartphone input. These pieces of equipment basically tricked my phone into thinking I had an external microphone. The purpose of the attenuator was to decrease the gain of the sound being sent out by the XZ.

Solution to problem 2. Took a fair bit of thought, as I was overthinking the whole process. The solution was actually pretty straight forward. And this was to have a structure to my playlists. For example I was asked to provide a set of approximately 45 – 60 minutes of newer music. Off I went with a piece of paper and a pen. I decided to split the set into 3 – starting with well known upbeat, sing along tunes everyone would know (think Ed Sheeran/Whitney Houston), transitioning to more of a disco feel (think Sylvester/Purple Disco Machine) and ending with house tunes (think Gorgon City/Camelphat). In all my years DJing I have never had to write a plan of what to play and in what order. It felt completely unnatural. However, I’m pleased to say in doing this it actually allowed for an almost perfect set of tune choices and mixing. Thank goodness…!

After I got the hang of all of this Facebook then turned into the music police and have muted or stopped the stream of live DJ sets cue to copyright laws. Completely understandable, but very frustrating for all DJ’s! Because of this I then uploaded my sets to my Mixcloud page, which can be found here.

There was also a new wave of technology coming to the forefront of everyones lives. These are video meetings and calls, on phones, laptops and tablets – thanks to apps such as Houseparty, Zoom and Team Meeting. These apps have been around for a while, but I’ve never had a need for them before the lockdown as I occasionally used FaceTime to speak with my friends and family, if I couldn’t get out to see them. One amazing feature which blew my tiny mind was on Zoom (which is a video meeting platform, allowing up to 100 participants). It could allow my decks to be played as if it was a microphone input. This allowed for an amazing after party on a number of occasions for virtual gatherings and parties. The only downside was for me to be heard by my friends and party goers I had to speak in to my microphone attached to my decks!

I’m pleased to say I have now found my ‘at home best DJ groove’ which is very different to my ‘at work best DJ groove’! If you’ve enjoyed a bit of an insight of me being a DJ you may enjoy this blog about being at a wedding reception with me in charge of the decks!

Thanks for reading, hope to see you on a dance floor very soon! x

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