Let’s face the music, folks: DJs love being the center of attention. Throughout the course of the night they are always looking for ways to remind people: “Hey, I’m not an over-paid iPod!” Mainly though, we love any kind of positive reaction from the crowd – the ultimate form of DJ crack. Many of these techniques are tired, overdone, and simply put, “easy pops”. Here are five of the worst offenders, and their more creative alternatives.
PLAYING THE BIGGEST HIT
The easiest pop of all – just play the big one song everyone knows or is expecting to hear. It’s a sure-fire way to get a crowd on the floor quickly and reliably. Unfortunately, you just performed the musical equivalent to eating dessert first – nothing really tastes quite as good after that.
The Creative Alternative: Pick a recognizable (but not overt) loop from the most popular tune and mix it in under a lesser-known track with the same key. You will get that “this DJ is amazing!” response your under-appreciated ego craves without completely giving it all away. Here’s a great example of the concept in action.
DROP THE BASS
You all know the drill: count it out with me:
1. Drop out the bass
2. Raise up your hands
3. Drop the bass back in!
Wow, now go take a siesta – because you just pulled off one of the most musically difficult feats known to man. In fact – take the rest of the night off, you earned it.
The Creative Alternative: Use a filter and reverb sweep to gradually carve out the bass and drop a beatmasher in for a subtle fill. It’s harder, less generic, and generally works better anyway. Here is a full tutorial on this technique.
OVER-HYPING ON THE MIC
Is it just me, or do some DJs seem have authoritarian complexes, ordering the crowd to do strange things every 10 minutes? “Everyone go to the bar and buy 4 drinks, then come back and dance harder! ” In all seriousness, there is nothing more cringeworthy than the typical crowd rousing rally calls:
“Everyone put your hands upppppp!” or “How’s everyone feeling tonight?”
The Creative Alternative: If you want to confound and confuse, try telling everyone “don’t put your hands up!” and then watch blissfully as their left and right brains collide under the sheer weight of your confounding demand. If you really must say something to the crowd, drop a creative sample over the mix to send an original message.
CUTTING THE MUSIC OUT SO PEOPLE CAN SIGN THE CHORUS
Ok, I admit it, this one is pretty fun. Matter of fact, if you are playing sing-along music then none of these rules really apply anyway. Throw those cakes, spray the champagne and fulfill every DJ cliche ever invented. Extra points if you manage to include all 127.
Looping the downbeat, the one, the kick, the bass, the thump, the bump – or whatever you want to call it and then speeding it up so it get’s f f f f f f f fffffaster is the newest oldest trick in the book. Although technically more difficult to pull off perfectly, it’s still an easy pop and fairly tired at this point.
The Creative Alternative: Most people build up the kick drum, turning the entire song into a stuttering mess. Perhaps loop a sample OVER the main song (an acapella works great) and shorten that loop to create the same build but slightly less reminiscent of Swedish House Mafia. Here are some very creative build techniques for Serato.
What is the one eye-roll inducing dj cliche you love to hate? tell us in the comments!