DJs: It’s Okay to Let it Play
As I write this article, I'm sitting at a local bar and grill which I often frequent. I'm preparing to destroy this delicious late lunch and wash it down with a cold beer. This place serves very simple, tasty Greek dishes… and I'm looking forward to eating my order of “Feta Steak”, which is basically a type of gyro.
I've eaten here many times, and as I think about the dishes that they serve and what I like, I notice that there is nothing super fancy about them. The ingredients to my order are fairly simple: some meat, some feta cheese, a little sauce, and a pita wrap. That's pretty much it. I find myself appreciating the simplicity of this dish.
Though there are only a few ingredients, you can tell that a lot of thought went into selecting those few. Each ingredient stands on its own, and you can taste each one independently. There's no filler in there to distract you from what really matters.
I wish more folks would take a similar approach to DJing. Of course, I don't at all mean that there is no place for fun tricks (or even filler), but too many DJs try too hard to add something for its own sake… when no addition is necessary.
This seems to be an increasingly common phenomenon, and it kinda makes sense. When you consider the fact that digital gear and software easily handles all the DJing “basics”, it's not a stretch to think that some DJs feel obligated to stay busy. This is also the same reason you see a lot of DJs frantically tweaking and flipping the EQ knobs as if they are on fire.
Let me be very clear about this, because I don't want there to be a misconception (I can see the comments now!). I'm not anti-exhibition when it comes to DJing. When done with precision and tact, DJing tricks can be a lot of fun to watch and listen to in a club, bar, or house party type of setting. I personally know some great scratch DJs that I could watch all day long, as well as some people who like to explore the ideas of “controllerism”, live remixing, mashups, and that sort of thing.
The only point I'm really trying to get across here is that, sometimes, it's just flat out annoying when you hear a fantastic track that gets smashed/cut/looped/effected to bits. It is, of course, your call as the DJ to determine when this is going to ruin the immersion for your listeners. This is simply another part of crowd-reading. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again. Don't put ketchup on a steak… make a better steak.
At the same time, sometimes we just love our extra condiments.
All I'm saying is, sometimes it's okay to kick back, close your eyes, and let your music do the talking… and you shouldn't feel guilty for that.
Comment below, and tell me what YOU think!