I have been DJing now for over 22 years and i’m starting to turn into a grumpy old man so this is my vent.
To put it into perspective I have not ripped up tree’s but I have had some recognition and I think I regularly play out at a decent standard on the London Soul Scene and on a respected internet radio station (over 4 million listeners to the station a month).
I play generally with CD’s but occasionally with Vinyl
I have been away from blogging for a little while and this is as good a place as any to start back again, This particular type of blog takes a certain type of mood to write and after a heated argument with my partner it seems a good place to start. Although I’ve probably shelved it for a week to self edit, well i hope i have.
This isn’t aimed at anyone or night in particular just my feelings..
I HEAR THE WORD EGO BANDED ABOUT A LOT.. any DJ who tells you ” I have no EGO!” is a liar. The very nature of what a DJ does falls into the definition of ego “a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance.” A DJ’s stands in front of a crowd of people or present on a radio show, you are effectively saying “your going to like this or I’m going to make you dance to what I am going to play you”.
Some DJ’s have an unnerving arrogance which is different. That is those who fight for a higher up the flyer billing or who walk round with their chests puffed out waiting for a “when are you on?”. Trouble is most of the time their in it for the wrong reason.
I have seen some of the best DJ’s in the world play there is something amazing about those select few do. I watched Joe Clausell play from behind and i thought to myself ” i know my place in this world” it was a combination of style, tricks, flow and selection that I don’t see other DJ’s do . I see others who perceive they are at that level strut around around with old hat music regurgitating the same set over and over again and slagging people off, as if making themselves look better would detract from an up and coming new boy.
I see people sucking up looking for an in, I twice promoted a night for a famous weekender in London with a genuine friend for life (my only foray i didn’t have the skills required to do it and make money). I had DJ’s I’ve never met before come up, say hello give me their numbers. I had people who i thought were friends who now limit their spoken word to “hello ” . Someone who i respect, once said “When you stop promoting you will see your real friends because the superficial ones will disappear” how right was he. I try to keep in touch with those who have always seen me right as a result not always on a weekly basis my work shift patterns are sporadic.
I have learned to differentiate between genuine friend and acquaintance.
I once was introduced to a DJ who looked down his nose at me. A minute later it was explained to him I was promoting the night he was meeting with my business partner for …. Guess what happened next, oh yes his tune changed. I wonder if he played for us ….
I learned a great tip which i will share with wanna be promoters. I met a guy who i didn’t really know at a party we chatted about most things music, football. I found out the club I had booked was a venue he wanted to use (it was stunning), so I phoned him and explained., I had booked the venue he had been inquiring (his name came up in the booking conversation) about. I explained what i was going to do. Initially he was annoyed but rang me back 24 hours later and we exchanged ideas. I see him as a mate now and i work for him on merit i might add.
IT DOESN’T PAY TO BE AN ARROGANT CUNT.
I have met a few respected and lauded DJ’s, one thing I noticed they were all guarded, scared to let themselves go a real sense of holding back that IMHO is due to the sycophantic actions of others . One particular person changed his attitude when my partner told him in no uncertain terms he had sat on our table not the other way round and there was no excuse for his arrogance and another one who i became a good friends with i threatened with violence before his original position changed and he proclaimed “I Like you”.
A DJ that genuinely has no ego it would be like listening to Piers Morgan performing 10 green bottles on repeat.
95% of the time it’s someone else’s creation your playing get over fucking yourself.
Warm up set Lots of stuff have been written about this by people who are better than me so i’ll keep it brief
Its nice to make a mark to make an impression but don’t do it at the expense of the night, those who play later who have generally have earned the right.
The warm up set is important it sets the marker for the rest of the evening. if I hear a “days like this” or any other big hitter around at that time in an opening set I wince and mutter the immortal words “TWWWWWAAAATTT” under my breath.
Use the warm up set to show your diversity those tunes you have saved from your foray into the band camps of this world, trust me it feels so much better when someone asks you for the name of a track they can’t shazam.
Always play to your best ability even if there is only 4 people in the room. 1. They have paid money in most cases 2. You don’t know who’s listening. I got a two week gig playing in Tobago playing to 25 people
If you get a warm up spot the promoter pays your wages and puts you there for a reason. I have had it where people ring me saying i’m gonna be late swap with me. ” No Fuck Off leave earlier” is the thought in my head. I generally say ” sorry mate i can’t do that”
Last but not least for this installment LOYALTY
My biggest bug bear THE ONLY THING YOU CAN’T BUY
When I started out I was spotted by accident (someone went to see a bloke for a new club night but was impressed with me and my mate) i was put on quite a big stage on my first gig I did two things that night. I upset the headliner by playing bangers in the warm up spot his answer to that was “know your place, you played half my set” my young arrogant reply was “fuck off there been lots of music about since you started” ( I have never worked for that particular person and I don’t blame him , but to be fair i was right).
The second thing I did was go to the promoter and say if you let me go on after him you don’t have to pay me (I’ll fucking show you said my arrogant self). I then went on again and played new funkier more cutting edge stuff. Up walks a promoter do you want to play for me on a Friday night up in London. My loyalty reactor kicks in ” This is a Friday night mate I’ve just started out” “no worries hears my number and a flyer, your making a big mistake though he says. ” Two months later I read about a night that’s getting lauded everywhere it rings a bell. I look at the flyer “Starsky and Hutch” but that’s loyalty.
I worked for a promoter for nearly 4 years it wasn’t a cutting edge gig but it paid. During that time I refused better work “Loyalty” but how did Loyalty pay me back, The greedy person found that the other greedy talent-less Radio style not club style mike using sound of his own voice knob lowered his price. how was my loyalty repaid a text saying we can’t work together on that basis. 4 years of loyalty ended in one text not phone call.
5 years on a radio station paying expensive subs with one of my good friends finished in one text someone else wanted our slot and was prepared to add advertising. The salt in the wound was the following day one director posting him sponsoring a Charlton athletic game with our subs. A life long Charlton fan got his wish and was photographed in the boardroom what for a bit of silver. Saying that I learned quickly about loyalty I work for a Station who had been courting me for a long time who has my ultimate loyalty and friendship.
A good friend of mine lost a friend unexpectedly coming up to weekender season Southport Weekender not only refunded their money without quibble they sent the photo pass back to them saying you may want this to. Another less unscrupulous one refused a refund altogether stating its non refundable. one got my loyalty the other is a distant memory for that and other reasons.
I’m not sure if loyalty works but i do know I feel better for it. Lots of people I have worked for have used other people for gigs i helped build on its way. It might be because i’m not as good as i see myself, maybe its my ego