Being a DJ, is it really a skill?

buster poser

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Or youth code.
Saw them open for Chelsea Wolfe a few years ago in Baltimore. What a show.

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Texicaster

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It Varies.....
I'm late to this picnic but I have some younger "hippie" friends who are into the Dead etc...

Some go absolutely NUTS for Tipper! Seems like DJ to me. He sells out 3 days at joints like Red Rocks. Each show takes on a theme.

Real atmospheric Brian Eno influenced but that can change show to show. I assume an awesome light show and LOTS of mysterious powers and potions involved in the "experience".

Not for me so far but the little bit I've poked my nose into I'd have to say there is definitely skill involved.

But it may not even be DJ.....Disregard if not...

 

cyclopean

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Saw them open for Chelsea Wolfe a few years ago in Baltimore. What a show.

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Do they ever headline? Every time I see them they’re opening for another touring act.

I should actually sit down and listen to some Chelsea Wolfe. I have a few of her albums on my iPod but never wind up putting them on. I like her collaborations with King Dude and her Rudimentary Peni cover ep.
 

cyclopean

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Back in the eighties, when the new romantic movement was taking a grip. I foolishly asked a DJ if he had anything by a specific rock band. As soon as the song he was playing finished, he picked up his mic and sneered: 'There's a guy here asking for some Status Quo!'
I slunk away to the sound of jeers and scathing laughter. :oops:
 

buster poser

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Do they ever headline? Every time I see them they’re opening for another touring act.

I should actually sit down and listen to some Chelsea Wolfe. I have a few of her albums on my iPod but never wind up putting them on. I like her collaborations with King Dude and her Rudimentary Peni cover ep.
Chelsea was good if a bit of a party killer after YC. We were up next to the stage, but it didn't really help... she was touring for Hiss Spun, so I guess Youth Code makes sense if you're trying to pair with doom/sludge. Youth Code was almost uncontrolled though, and followed by the gothy stuff from Chelsea, just too much contrast.
 

Guithartic

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Sure, there’s a skill set in anything from gardening, doing hair and make up, trimming trees, cooking, selling encyclopedias, planning parties, etc. Same for being a DJ. DJ-ing is a form of entertainment. At the same time, I think 99% of the time, if you’re supplying music at an event like those mentioned, you could just set up an iPhone, connected to speakers or have Alexa there and let people tell her what to play like a giant juke box. I bet if you did a study to see what people are playing, you would see the same 30 songs at every event.
 

Alamo

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I'm probably not the audience for any DJ, but it's art just like Rembrandt and Mondrian and Rauschenberg and Nan Goldin are all art.

Some of it's skilled and artisanal, some of it found, overwrought, slapped together, whatever. All assembled by someone who intended to evoke something.

Beyond that, I think I'm probably on the wrong side of history to call anything "not art." :)

Edit: The question was "skill," not "art," but I mean to suggest that the output is probably valued as art one way or the other. If that's true, whether it's hard to produce or not is probably irrelevant. I'm sure some aesthetic sense is required, else we'd just dance to playlists.

As above, it's not either/or. Many if not most of the people you may think of as mere "DJs" have produced a good chunk of the music they perform during a set.

I disagree, musicians that want to impress other musicians seem to be overly concerned about defending their version of 'true art' from 'mindless masses'. IMO, the definition of musician is met by certain types of DJing: "a person who plays a musical instrument (fader, samples/turntables), especially as a profession (plenty of examples), or is musically talented (plenty of examples)." I can't believe that in free societies, music 'trends' are only directives from 'slick and crafty' profiteers. There's way too many cogs to generalize.




Yes, collage and cut-up is a bonafide artistic method. That and musique concrete has been around for some time now. Andy Warhol is a popular graphic example. As for the dancing thing, I mean that's fine, not all DJ'ing is about dancing. Could be vibe or atmosphere. I don't always do any dancing at a 'analog' 4-piece show either, but if I do, that wasn't no byproduct!

There are several kinds of "DJs" out there. The most basic kind just plays other artists' songs, smoothly moving from one song to the next, reading the crowd and creating a pleasing set that keeps everyone dancing. The next kind adds various effects such as filtering, scratching, etc. But the really big money DJs actually create their own electronic music. People like Avicii, Skrillex, Martin Garrix, etc. The ones that make way more money than any other musicians. This third type of DJ is definitely a musician. But rather than perform their music live, they show up with a USB stick and press play. They sort of act up there, waving their hands, pretending like they are doing stuff, getting the crowd going.




DJ’s have replaced bands at bar mitzvahs and sweet sixteens where I live. It’s not just a DJ though. It’s a show, including dancers who teach the kids dance moves and get the geezers and their wives out of their chairs. They’re the entertainment for five hours and the best of them are really great. It’s so much more than spinning vinyl. And what’s it worth to see grandpa trying to hide his poker in his pants for the first time in 20 years?

DJ's get reps that attracts customers, a good DJ "reads the room" and chooses wisely what to play.
There's talent in spinning and how they mix (continuity etc) so yeah, it's a skill.

Someone who shows up to a wedding with 2 Pioneer decks and a couple Ipods or a laptop is just a public broadcaster. DJs, however, are absolutely musicians...they may be re-mixing other music, but they are often changing the arrangement, the instrumentation, and do add parts with synth and midi sample controllers...If someone sits down and plays a Wes Montgomery standard, they are still playing and interpreting someone else's song, which is what makes it interesting to hear the same song again and again. Someone without inherent musicality, something to express, and actual technical skills cannot be a DJ. Going all the way back to Djs marking vinyl to get the breakdown, there have been prerequisite skills to be an expressive dj; they have bags of tricks just like a blues player. There are tons of awful and untalented djs...When I have been a dj in a club, I do little more than try to have fun arrangements of songs that keep the mood going; I am doing almost nothing beyond pressing play. I have seen amazing djs, however, who deploy a huge range of tools to make a performance...they arrange, improvise, and create performances that are often unique from every other time they have approached the piece. I may not love everything by Skrillex or Deadmau5, but they create something new and obviously have huge, paying, fanbases who pay a premium for something well beyond simply playing the song again on pandora.

Yes!
 

buster poser

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My son has informed me they've elevated themselves. They're now producers.
That’s accurate for many of them and has been going back to the Belleville Three and beyond. Clozee, REZZ, Deadmau5, Armin, Kalkbrenner, Prydz and many many others with defensibly dense composition skills write and perform/record every second of their own songs. ‘Producer’ is almost an insult.
 

loopfinding

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At the same time, I think 99% of the time, if you’re supplying music at an event like those mentioned, you could just set up an iPhone, connected to speakers or have Alexa there and let people tell her what to play like a giant juke box. I bet if you did a study to see what people are playing, you would see the same 30 songs at every event.

not to be too much of a techno/house snob, but this is why a lot of DJ stuff is dumb, and probably why a lot of the general population rightfully doesn't get it. the experience of going to a club/rave explicitly to see a selector is very different from going to a rock concert and very different from a wedding or bar DJ just playing the hits. it's a sort of "happening." but unfortunately it's something that has been subsequently gripped for popular consumption in a way that makes no sense in the original context.
 
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