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The Art of Electronic Music DJs

By Vineet Verma Subscribe to RSS | April 3rd 2012 | Views:

An old friend of mine used to complain that electronic music DJs have no talent. “It’s just playing records,” she said. “I can play records.”

It isn’t, of course. And she couldn’t – not like they can. DJing electronic music is about creation – taking other people’s music and turning it into a journey. It’s not a journey everyone likes and it isn’t always arriving at the destination you thought it would. But one thing you can’t call it is “just playing records”.

The reason not everyone likes all electronic music DJs is because there are so many different kinds of electronic music. And there seem to be more spawning every day. I’ve only been on the back burner for a couple of years and I already haven’t heard of half the new stuff.

In my time it was a choice of houses – hard house; deep house; techie house; minimal house; cheesy house. Or perhaps some breakbeat or a little bit of drum n bass. And all the electronic music DJs doing their thing in all of those different arenas were masters of their craft – able to take a theme and a seam and run it through their whole set like a gold thread. So you’d come out at the end knowing you’d been travelling, and that you’d returned bigger and wiser – and lost most of a night in the process!

These days the art of the electronic music DJs is even more complex than it used to be. Since Ableton Live hit the scene, there’s been a sea change in the way that DJs work, using live sampling and complex music programming technology on the spot to make whole studio-ready sets in clubs and underground bars.

The skill set needed to be an electronic music DJ hasn’t changed dramatically, though I have heard some modern electronic music DJs say they can’t use decks properly. Not the same the other way around – the old guard made a transition from decks to laptops with ease. Particularly, if memory serves, Sasha, who made Ableton a core part of his sets as soon as he’d mastered the technology.

The point is there’s much more to the art of the electronic music DJs than meets the eye. Their only equal is the hip hop DJ, who, like the original electronic music DJ, has to have an ear for beat matching, an impeccable sense of rhythm and the ability to create a whole new feeling with pre-existing sounds.

So next time you hear someone claiming that electronic music DJs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, get them to listen to Northern Exposure or go check out a Luis Armando set. They’ll soon come round to your way of thinking!

Vineet Verma - About Author:
Vineet Verma is a passionate club kid, DJ and music producer. He’s currently co-running the Now Then Records label, DJ agency and party venue. When he isn’t playing or producing he’s doing the rounds of nightclubs in the UK, doing A and R for new artists and sniffing out hot new electronic music DJs .

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