It’s festive time! Time to put your turntables, controllers, cds, your music and your skills to the test. How to make a great Dj mix? How to appeal your audience? Here are 5 reliable tips for your DJ career!
1. Know your music you play
First, you need to listen to your tracks regularly. Know their structure and remember which one can lead to another ones. It’s good to have in mind few tunes ahead. Also it’s good to have many alternatives. This is the most important thing in a good dj mix.
Mix in the key, match beats and match phrases. Learning the basics of music theory will be a great help. Many Dj’s wonder why their transition lose the energy or leave people confused.
Knowing about the keys, phrases and track structure should be one of the first things for a DJ. Using this knowledge gives you powerful tools to create better dj mix and smooth transitions between tunes. If you’re really good at it, you will be able to mix tunes that don’t appear to fit at first look.
2. Be friend with your console
Before you surround yourself with latest gadgets be sure to use good old mixer correctly. Not every club has decent sound equipment and in many cases playing too loud spoils the tune quality. Your mix starts to sound flat and muddy. People might even think that you use an mp3 player.
Use gain and balance to take control over your sound. It is better to play less loud than having less quality sound.
Remember that a well set equalizer points North. Rather than adding more bass, take off mid and high tones. Keep gain at reasonable level and avoid red lights in the master channel. Avoid duplicating basslines. It is better to cut down bass from one track and leave the other playing.
3. Arrangement and transitions in your mix
Use sound effects, different transitions. Plan your mix and arrange as it was one track.
This is a common song arrangement in a dj mix:
Build up your mix – play more atmospheric tunes, add some nostalgic, sentimental flavour and slowly build up the tempo or the atmosphere. Around the middle of your set you are ready for the phase two.
… Which is the peak of your mix. This is the place where your crowd is excited and the dancefloor is full. This should happen around the middle of your mix but depending on the audience you may want to end the 1st phase earlier or later. It’s like the punchline of a good joke: it should come in the right time.
Last phase of the mix might be called “the waves”. It’s all about building up and releasing smaller waves of energy to keep your audience excited and don’t let them get away from you.
If you use a controller it is good to change your sounds from time to time. Use different sets of dj samples ,even flute or mpc samples to explore new possibilities. Your performances are also your playground. You should never lose the joy of playing music.
4. Watch your audience interact with your dj mix
A good DJ plays along with the audience. They give you hints what to play next just with their behaviour. Look at the dancefloor, see how many people are joining the crowd, how many are leaving. Remember how they react on your tracks and play what they appear to like.
Each time the audience is different. What worked last time might not work tonight. You should also pay close attention to some people who seem to be watched by the rest of the audience. The crowd is not a shapeless mass and laws of sociology apply here well. Each person has a different character and there are the ones with more charisma than others. Watch out for them as they can help you or spoil your performance if they don’t like what or how do you play.
But watch out for people trying to make you play whatever you want. If they want you to become their YouTube player, they are obviously in the wrong club.
It’s easy to get carried away with the mood. Friends buy you drinks and want to celebrate your gig with you. But remember that playing a gig is like driving your car – most of mistakes you can do only once. The consequences of your failure might not be as hard as those of car accident but still…
Make an experiment: Get drunk at your home and play a whole set as if it was your gig. Record it. You will love the transitions and you will enjoy playing. But after listening to this mix you will find many rough edges.
Respect the music and respect the audience. They will remember a drunk dj and will not want to give you a second chance.