Sunday, January 31, 2010

Go (that way) DJ!

There are times when very interesting, sincere and valid questions arise from a conversation. I embrace those moments. I sat down in a round table of sorts with a few DJ friends of mine and listened to years of turntable experience at work. It boiled down to something that I had not considered before: What is a DJ's responsibility?

This past weekend, I went to my dude's party at a small Jersey lounge. With the exception of a quick guest spot by yours truly, he was the man on the wheels for the night. The place was packed with early 20-somethings celebrating birthdays- mostly girls in short skirts with their boyfriends thirsty for champagne, a chance to be noticed and a flashy night out. I must say that my friend is a DJ for the people, meaning he assesses the crowd and spins accordingly. Although the song selection of hardcore fist pumping, monotonous, synthetic drum sounds and radio fluff made me sea sick, it was clearly what the crowd craved. He did what he had to do. I respected that and swiftly made my exit.

We debriefed the next day at the "roundtable".

My argument: Something for everybody usually means nothing for anybody. I follow DJ's and go to venues that play what I want to hear. I seek them out, therefore I don't want the sounds to veer towards the Jersey Shore soundtrack just because there are a few greasy cats with glitter on their chests that want their horrid musical taste buds appeased. Regardless of the TYPE of music played, I want the VIBE consistent and I want to share space with people who desire the same. I stay away from the one-stop shopping clubs and bars that have to appeal to the masses and play whatever pop fodder that's considered safe and generic. I don't invade and criticize; I go where I call home and play my position. As I begin to delve into the world of DJing, I promote and reach out to like-minded heads that feel what I feel and can relate to the mood I'm creating. I know my audience and go after them. Hopefully others will join in the movement and help it to grow, but I maintain my direction. As far as I'm concerned, a city bus's route is clear. If it doesn't go where you want it to, wait for the next one. I feel the same way about the parties we attend.

So I ask: Overall, is the responsibility of the DJ to adapt to the flavor of the spot at all costs and be a virtual jukebox, or is his job to set the tone and convince the crowd to see it his way at the risk of clearing the floor at any moment?
Obviously there are a million variables to this question that prompt more than a few non black and white answers, but I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.



  1. I just wana dance and blame it on the alcohol. But I think the DJ should share both those options. I think it's smart to please the crowd but DJs that don't take risks bore me personally.

  2. Did Kool Herc and Bambaat cater to the people? No, and the music didn't suck back then either. They created the sound, the sound didn't create them. I refuse to play the commercial shit and that's why I don't get many gigs and hear shit from the club owners. Can't I bring something different to a diverse crowd? Musical education is the answer. I'll take one two request but as a whole, I want to play an eclectic set. All I need is a club owner to give me 6 months and I will build up a crowd with a movement of dreads and baldheads moving to One Nation Under a Groove. I hear you bredren. With all that said- stay tuned for the Juggla aka DJ Juggwise coming back in full effect with a monthly party.

  3. DJs should be able to read the crowd and play accordingly. If she is real good, she can slip in an unknown and keep the crowd up, IMHO.

  4. My favorite DJs are like the cool kids in high school who made the best mix tapes. There's a little bit of what you know and expect, because it's timely and already well-respected by your peers, but then there are those 2 or 3 tracks that make you ask "Who IS THIS?? I need to hear everything else they've ever done." And then a whole new corner of the world opens up.