New on the club scene: hard disk DJs ‘spinning’ MP3s

SilliconValley:

"New York ad salesman Michael Parrish, who noticed the BQE’s DJ was turntables-free when he requested a song, says anyone can be a DJ now. "When I was younger I felt like there was a talent to it because they were spinning records backwards and forwards and really cutting it in and overlapping songs," Parrish says. "It doesn’t take much talent to be a DJ anymore. You just have to have a good flow of songs." Kirkendoll, by day an artist at a New York advertising agency, acknowledges that plugging an iPod into a sound system and cueing up tracks doesn’t require even a fraction of the skill needed to spin records."

Guys, you’re not going to put Carl Cox out of work anytime soon. Here we are again with the usual clueless story that equates easy-to-use with easy-to-master. DJing requires a lot more than just dexterity with vinyls. Good DJs have:

  • A broad musical culture, and the ability to tap it in real time to mix, match and transition records.
  • A feeling to what people like, and empathy to how they respond to what you play.
  • The talent to heat up the atmosphere and sustain attention. It’s a lot easier to empty a dance floor than to fill it (even with good records.)
    I’m not a DJ nor a nightclubber (I hope the Rex Club in Paris is still as good as I remember it though), but I like to watch how good DJs succeed in turning a bunch of people who don’t know each other into an wild crowd. The article touches that a little bit, which makes it in itself contradictory. And DJing is above all a club culture, not just a nice trick to set a background mood in bars.
    Overall, technical skills are just a small part of what makes a great DJ. This is desktop publishing or web design revisited. Digital tools don’t lower the "talent and sweat" bar. I’m just getting into digital film with our new camcorder, and I plan to set up a home studio sometime in the future, and boy, that’s a lot of homework! Don’t make it sound otherwise because people will just output the usual 99% of crap and feel disappointed. Just drop the empty promise of one-click talent.

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