Analog and digital instruments, may they be turntables or electronic drum sets, have paved the way for disc jockeys (DJs) to craft their own style of music. And now with the ever expanding realm of new techniques and technology, DJs have a wider selection of tools to choose from, each one an efficient aid in their efforts to wow their audience through music.
However, even with the recent surge of DJs doing remixes digitally (thanks to software and computers), and with the likes of The Diegos (Diego Castillo and Diego Mapa) who perform using vinyl records and turntables, vit is still all about the love for music. Whether during Electronic Dance Music (EDM) festivals, street festivals, or jazz events in underground clubs, every DJ’s goal is to make music that can get the crowd pumped up for a whole day (or night) of partying.
Diego Castillo of The Diegos showcasing his DJ skills using turntables and vinyl records.
So how is DJ culture different in the 1980s compared to DJ culture today? DJ Jazzy Jeff, one of the more veteran DJs in the scene, recounts that during their time, there was no such thing as equipment dedicated for DJ-ing. “You figure out how to make it work,” Jazzy Jeff recounts on DJ-ing in the '80s. “It was so many things you have to do to make it work”.
Fast forward to today, and DJs have access to DJ-specific equipment, making their work easier. Yet for veterans like Jazzy Jeff, he considers these technological advancements, from DJ-specific equipment to mixing software, both a gift and a curse.
While many would criticize newer DJs for being “lazy”, as they would simply push a button in their laptops to showcase their remixes to the crowd, Jazzy Jeff sees this in a different light. Being a gadget fan, Jazzy Jeff considers these technological advancements in DJ-ing as a means of improving his craft further. “I’d like a mixture of both [old school and new school],” he said. What’s important for him, however, is that he still gets to manipulate music the way he wants it.
DJ Tom Taus makes use of an electronic drum set to supplement his DJ set.
His advice to DJs, budding and experienced ones alike? For the younger DJs, investigate and explore older techniques to expand their craft, and for the established ones, don't be afraid to embrace technological advancements to improve and streamline your skills.
Whether DJs would play electronic dance music (EDM) or hip-hop, or soul, all DJs should always remember their main goal. “To me, the concept of DJ-ing is the simplest thing in the world: to play music to make you [the audience] happy,” Jazzy Jeff says of his success secret as a music producer.
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