Sooner or later you’ll want to commit your peerless mixing skills and mega tune selection to tape, so to speak, and record a DJ mix. The DJ mix is a vital tool in a DJs promotional arsenal as it showcases your selections and ability and online, it will often be the first way people interact with you. A good DJ mix is like an interactive business card that people will share with their friends if it’s good enough, so it’s always worth making your promotional mixes as good and as memorable as you can get them.
You might record it live in the club at one of your gigs, but it often turns out that you need to record a set at home. Recording a DJ mix out of the club environment is one of the odder things that a DJ has to do – because DJing is an activity that uniquely relies on the interactions between you and the crowd and on their reactions to what you do. Many of the decisions that you make when programming and mixing will be based on what the audience are saying to you – and without them, the whole undertaking can feel as though it is lacking its central motivation.
When you have to record a DJ mix at home, a vital part of the process is missing. DJing at home can feel a little like the age old philosophical question – if a tree falls in a forest unobserved does it make a sound? It can be a real challenge to bust out a mix that captures you in full effect without a screaming horde of up for it dancers in front of you. Live streams like Facebook Live could potentially address this, although to keep perspective, it’s probably worth asking yourself what’s the longest you’ve ever watched a DJ via Facebook Live.
However, all his also means that the home created DJ mix can be a slightly different beast to your live shows. It’s a chance to get every single mix completely and utterly perfect, a chance to go back to re-edit the order or individual tunes, to finesse your mix into a true thing of beauty, the kind of DJ mix that you and your mates will return to again and again. You don’t get to pay this much attention to the craft and techniques of DJing when you’re playing live – you’ve got a job to do and you have to keep that floor moving.
It’s hot, it’s loud, it’s disorientating, time seems to fly by and there’s little time to stop and consider, you move on instinct. At home, you can programme your mix to the nth degree, include loads of complimentary key matches and precisely synced acapellas and FX, pile on layers of heavily EQed percussion, re-edit half the tunes, and synchronise the whole thing to perfection.
Maybe the best way is to get a few mates round, have a few drinks and get a bit of vibe going. Work out a few cool things you’re going to do in the mix, run through the whole thing, have a bunch of backup tunes for if you change your mind halfway through and then hit record. You get the best of both worlds – a bit of audience feedback as well as the chance to plan the thing so that all the little tricks that sometimes work and sometimes don’t fall perfectly into place. You might even end up producing a classic DJ mix – just don’t forget to hit record.