Some of us wield our hairbrush and become rock gods. Others waste hours of their youth perfecting the the art of the air guitar. But growing in number every day is the army of future musicians with the dream of becoming the world’s greatest DJ: the type who mix in their mind, look at a car heating system and see only a CDJ, and visualise a future floorfiller in every sound that enters their ears.
In some ways, we’re just like every other fanbase in music: passionate, persistent and desperate to see ourselves in charge of the show. And for many of us this will remain just a dream; but if you’ve ever thought that a life behind the decks could be your calling, these are the characteristics you need to eat, sleep and breathe in order to cut it in the world of late nights and long sets.
The DJ lifes involves physically and mentally intense schedules, dense with travel, irregular sleep patterns and a working environment characterised by chaos. And while travelling and partying around the world sounds like fun (and it is), the never-ending cycle can cause plenty of young selectors to burnout before they’ve even truly begun. If you can put in the hours, go the distance and do it with a smile on your face, you’ve taken the first steps on the path to greatness.
Trial and error is all part of the learning process. You have to trust your ability to make a mistake and rebound. Admittedly this becomes far easier to accept the more time you spend behind the decks, but you’ll never establish yourself in the club scene if you’re too reserved and unadventurous.
You can’t fear the outcome of a bad set, or even a slightly dodgy mix in the graveyard shift. If you’re the sort of person that has the confidence to fail, learn and stay strong throughout, you could have what it takes.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
It’s not difficult to be a decent DJ, but almost impossible to become one of the greats. And whilst it’s not all about having flawless technique, and it’s perfectly acceptable to make mistakes as an up and coming DJ; with thousands of adoring eyes paying big sums of cash to watch your every move, you’ll need a keen eye for detail and a willing enthusiasm to tune your craft to the finest detail and take your career to the next level.
There’s no progress without experience, practice and an ability to be honestly self-critical.
To reach your creative and artistic peak, you must have an innate desire to push music in a new direction. We’ve all dreamt of being our favourite artists – playing their sets, having their schedules and making their music – but the majority of the professional industry has reached where they have by actively seeking to escape repetition and the recycling of styles and sounds already explored.
You can’t base your career off plagiarism – you’ll need to understand from the beginning the importance, influence and integrity behind being a creative in the truest sense. If you feel more comfortable copying than rolling the dice (perhaps pulling a snake eyes before a double-six) then you’re unlikely to have your name at the top of the bill.
SO IS THE DJ LIFE FOR YOU?
It’s difficult for the DJ lifestyle to not draw in any fan of electronic music, but thinking and doing are two different ball games. We all know plenty of solid selectors and modest mixers, but the characteristics that define those at the top of the creative food chain are broadly universal. If you meet the criteria above, or are at the very least willing to challenge yourself to evolve, adapt and reach levels beyond the status quo then the DJ life may well be for you.