DJs often discuss other DJs in terms of their mixing ability, how many decks they can mix on, how many FX they can utilise at once and so on, but the real issue at the very heart of DJing is one that completely transcends any technical consideration. Whether a club DJ uses six CDJs at once and never once leaves the mixer alone, or simply plays one good tune after another, the single most important thing for every DJ in the world is selection.
There is no other single factor that is more important than which music you select to play. It’s more important than how you mix your tunes and it’s way more important than what format you play on. A DJ may be a master of the loop section of the CDJs, and may excel at perfectly timed delay effects on the mixer, they might be layering up acapellas, scratching and cutting in perfect time, but none of this can possibly matter one iota, if the music selection isn’t up to scratch.
No audience ever wanted to hear a set of average music mixed perfectly. Better to play brilliant music, with no mixing at all, than to subject a paying crowd to bad music.
A good DJ will know their particular chosen genre well and know their tunes well enough to be able to make informed decisions about what to play and when to play it – selections – based on a combination of experience, knowledge and gut instinct. It is this, not how well you can beat match or blend tunes, that really give you your unique sound as a DJ.
When you’re in the heat of a gig, under pressure because the last tune is going to run out in a minute, there is often the temptation to reach for the ‘easy mix’ – a tune which has a nice, basic 16 bars of 4/4 beats at the intro which makes it a breeze to mix. And perhaps deep down you know that there’s another tune that would suit this moment so much better, but it’s got a weird intro and is difficult to mix… Whenever a DJ is first faced with this dilemma, it is a career defining moment.
Are you going to be the kind of DJ who plays tunes because they’re easy to mix? Or are you going to be the kind of DJ who plays tunes because you know that this particular track is just perfect for this particular room, at this particular moment – even if you’re not confident that the transition will be smooth? How you react to this situation will be the making or the breaking of you as a DJ. Our advice? Take that risk, always.